Cloth or Disposable...that is the Question....or is it?
When I was expecting my first, I weighed up this question. It seemed to be a decision about cost, environment and convenience.
Then, one day, a few months into Parenting, I was changing my daughter's nappy and she was mid-poo. So I held her over the toilet to finish. And it occurred to me, I could do that every time she needed to poo...saving on nappies...better for the environment, and let's face it: who wants to shit in their pants! It wasn't a great leap to try to anticipate weeing either.
I had noticed she did a big wee very soon after waking, so began holding her over the toilet after she woke. It wasn't long, and she was dry over night, with her morning wee always in the toilet.
At home she was rarely in a nappy, I rarely got wee'd on. When we were out and about, we carried a little folding seat, to use on public toilets. The summer before she was two, we decided to 'toilet train'. This basically involved being pantless and knowing where the potty was. She didn't skip a beat. When she needed to go, she just toddled down the hall, sat on the potty, and 'ta da!' - toilet trained. She was 21 mths old, and it wasn't long before she could be wearing pants and just ask for some help. She never had an accident.
Of course, I took all the credit.
So when our son was born, I decided to do the same thing. As soon as he had head control, I'd hold him over the toilet in the morning. It wasn't as easy to focus on his toileting needs with a toddler on the loose, but we did ok. He was dry over night by 6 mths, and out of nappies by 2. He was not accident-free, but it certainly wasn't a drama.
So I concluded, that it wasn't me - it was the child. Some get it easily, some not so easily. But they get there in the end. Just like any milestone.
By the time I was expecting my third, I discovered that what I had been doing (half-heartedly) was a Thing. This Thing was called 'Elimination Communication', or 'Natural Infant Hygiene'.
Instead of training our babies to shit in their pants, we anticipate their need, and help them out. The more aware you are, the better you respond, the easier it is. This is not toilet training, more a courtesy. It will save money, and reduce waste (if using disposables) or washing (if using cloth). It still comes down to the child, so think of it as Team Work. By helping your child in this way, there are several benefits.
Benefits of Elimination Communication
For more information see this article by Dr Sarah Buckley , which includes further links.
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