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What parents did before diapers

Remember the post where I talked about how it drove me crazy not having the Internet because I wonder about things like what did people do before diapers and want to find the answer right away?

Well, I did find out the answer after a short Internet search when I got back online. I was reminded about it when another mom in our building and I were discussing potty training.

The search led me to the diaper entry on Wikipedia (very interesting if you have a non-potty trained child) and then I found “elimination communication“.

Elimination communication begins at birth or within the first six months of life. While reading the article I thought, “Wow! I could have done that. It would have saved me tons of money.” Then, I thought about the piles and piles of my four children’s diapers accumulating over the years and the effect of all those diapers on our environment.

Basically, the child associates a mother’s hissing or clicking noise (or whatever signal the mother uses) with the urge to eliminate. It is important that the mother observes and understands her child’s verbal and physical signals of when he/she needs to ‘go’. There are no rewards or punishments involved.

I was thrilled when, yesterday, I read another article talking about a new movement for diaper free babies in America. I do wonder how working mothers will succeed in this method. The article does state that there are some working mothers involved. I know I couldn’t have done it while working. The article, also, states the obvious problem these mothers run up against. It is difficult to find childcare providers who are willing to participate in keeping a baby diaper free. I can understand that.

I think this will take Western society a long, long time to adjust to. It was and is a method used in countries such as Africa which have extremely warm climates. Western society has for the most part always used some type of diaper whether it was made of leaves or as fine as animal skin.

Mothers who are using the elimination communication method talk about how it is actually easier to teach babies to eliminate on cue from birth than to deal with diapers and then potty training at a later age. I am not even mentioning the positive impact on the environment.

We’ll see if this diaper free method takes hold in Western society or not. It is certainly worth considering if you are a stay at home mother with an abundance of patience. Personally, I would have given it a try.


Resource for those of you that would like to know more or even try a diaper free baby:


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Cathy Y. August 29, 2007, 8:00 pm

    I’ve heard of this, too, but I really wonder if Western Society would ever adapt to it. Even if a Western mother doesn’t have an outside job, most Western parents don’t carry their babies around as much as parents in other parts of the world, and would not be able to communicate with the baby as closely. I see major obstacles to this becoming a major movement, although it does seem to be growing.

  • Pumpkin August 30, 2007, 8:48 am

    I read that it is only successful if the parents are very, very close to the child. I agree that in the Western world we have alot of our own things going on and don’t have that physical closeness with our children that is neccessary for this method to be successful.

    I do carry and hold my children alot. But, that is my personality. So, I would have given it a shot but I am not saying I would have been successful. It would have been hard to do with three little ones at once! That’s for sure. Diapers have been nice to me. :)

    I don’t see this method as becoming a ‘normal’ thing to do but maybe more people will do it and it will still be strange but not unheard of.

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