Happy Earth Day, and Diaperless Babies


Signal“Elimination Communication”.  Carefully observed babies pooping in bowls. The idea is that parents become so in tune with their diaperless child that they anticipate signals in time to rush to a toilet, kitchen sink, tree or bowl. Wow. An article in Sunday’s New York Times on this growing trend among the privileged set made me a little uneasy, and not just because of the bowls …

Today is Earth Day, and I’m all for fewer diapers in the landfill. I also understand the motivation and intention behind wanting to be more attentive and in tune with our babies. But I wonder what the impact will be if this trend really catches on.

I don’t know a lot of parents who have the flexibility in their lives to make Elimination Communication feasible. I can’t imagine how much concentration it takes to focus on a toddler’s every grimace, wink and twitch. Perhaps it would become second nature, but I suspect it could become a fixation that would leave attention for little else. Forget working from home. Forget paying attention to other kids.  Forget invitations to lunch.  Look away for a few minutes to brush your teeth or answer the phone, and you have a mess on your hands.  Or your rug.

The other thing that makes me nervous as I read about the movement around this trend is that it has the potential to become another source of judgement and competition among moms. Will we get to the point where we feel cruel and embarrassed to have our child in a diaper? Will we feel like we are less-than if we don’t have time to sit and watch our child all day? We are already being pressured to teach our babies Mandarin, chess and HTML – must we also be on elimination alert 24/7?

Look. I’m a live and let-live kind of gal, and if you and your child can make the diaperless thing work without making yourselves and everyone around you nuts, I applaud you. I really do. Let’s just be careful to not add unnecessarily to parenting pressure for ourselves and others, and make sure that we are prioritizing the most important things.

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