The rise of nappy-free newborns

Marie Claire Dorking

When any new mum heads out the door with her newborn, her changing bag will likely be laden with baby essentials. Changing mat? Tick. Wipes? Tick. Boob or bottle for feeding? Tick.

And then there’s the nappies – whatever you do, don’t forget the nappies. Unless of course you’re potty training. Because while it is common practice to toilet train a child of toddler-age and above, some parents are choosing to go nappy-free a heck of a lot earlier.

Like Cindy Lever for example. The yoga instructor and freelance journalist from Queensland refuses to put her two-week-old daughter, Chloe, in nappies and instead has been potty training the little one since birth.

This is all part of the practice of Elimination Communication (EC) where parents use timing, signals, cues and intuition to judge when their baby needs to go to the toilet.

“It is fun and addictive and I love that it allows for an even deeper connection with my baby,” she told Kidspot.

Aussie mum Cindy is using the Elimination Communication technique with her daughter, Chloe. Photo: Facebook/cindy.lever.9 describes baby-led potty training (BLPT), or Elimination communication (EC), as a “respectful, natural way to care for a baby”.

The site says the practice can be done with or without nappies and is a method used by parents all around the world. “It is a skill that has been forgotten in the West since the advent of disposable nappies,” the site continues. “Parents who practice BLPT respond to a baby’s needs as and when they occur, rather than waiting until nappy change time.”

Cindy says that when it comes to not wanting to soil themselves babies are no different from adults and argues that using a nappy is something they get used to when their cues for needing to go to the toilet aren’t recognised by grown ups.

The method sees parents relying on cues from their baby on when they need to go to the toilet. Photo: Getty images

“A lot of people think it is too hard or don’t believe a baby can communicate it’s need to do wee or poo,” she writes in Kidspot.

“However, just as they can let us know when they are tired, hungry or when they have wind, if we slow down and tune in it is possible to read their toileting needs too.”

The new mum says she uses a mixture of common sense instinct and listening to her baby to try and pick up on the fact that she needs the toilet.

Cindy holds Chloe over the sink so they can see each other in the mirror and gives her vocal cues such as 'wee, wee' and 'poo, poo'.

Cindy believes babies resort to using nappies when their bathroom cues aren't recognised by their parents. Photo: Getty images

“Using these cues means that I can communicate with her as she gets older and she will know that it is okay to go to the toilet, rather than just eliminate anywhere,” she said.

Over time she believes it is possible to begin to understand your baby’s toilet routine, but admits that the method isn’t always fool-proof.

Cindy’s not alone in potty training her newborn, in fact ditching the nappies is quite the trend in parenting. Want proof? Look no further than parenting site Mumsnet whose forum is awash with posts from mums discussing the benefits of baby-led toilet training.

Critics say EC can have an adverse effect, with the child resisting the urge to go to the bathroom when they're older. Photo: Getty images

But not everyone is in favour of the practice and while parents practicing the method have been accused of "over-achieving", more worryingly some experts have raised concerns that early potty training could encourage dangerous long-term toilet habits.

According to the Daily Mail a recent study published in the scientific journal Urology indicated some children develop a habit of 'chronic holding', in which they resist the urge to go to the toilet, leading to constipation, bladder problems and urinary tract infections. And those most prone to the condition are those who were potty trained early, particularly before the age of two.

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