May 15, 2007 — -- It's the latest thing in child-rearing — dressing your baby diaper-free.
Instead of putting diapers on their children, some parents use natural cues and signals to determine when their little ones need to "go," and react accordingly.
"We do potty parties. You know, 'Mommy go potty,' 'Campbell go potty' — and he usually goes. I go, and he goes," said Nancy Meyer.
Meyer is one of about a dozen women in New Paltz, N.Y., who participate in an infant potty training support group run by Lolli Edinger.
"Keeping a child out of their waste in a diaper keeps them clean, keeps them hygienic, keeps them comfortable," Edinger said.
Erica Chase-Salerno hosts the monthly meeting in her home, and she says that "It's about honoring her body. That's one of the main reasons we do it. When you catch your first pee, you're hooked. I caught my first pee — I thought it was a fluke and I kept thinking it was flukes, but when you keep having a coincidence, you're on track — once you get the first one, you can't look back."
The moms say going diaper-free helps them relate to their children. To get their children to go, the moms use hand signals and the "ssss" sound, and one mom even had a song to get her son to go.
"I realized it's not so much about diapers, it's really about attachment parenting. Just listening to the baby's cues and responding to her cues. I communicate with her better now," said Carla McGarry, the mother of 1-year-old Kristina.
These parents do use diapers sometimes, such as overnight or when they go out, but when they are at home with the child, the babies are bare and the moms try to predict when they need to use the bathroom. If they're right, they call it a catch, and if they fail to predict one, it's a miss.
"I know that she is going to need to pee now," said Chase-Salerno. "She gets in a zone and I feel this is one of them. What I do is I bring in toys with her because sometimes she'll sit a little bit longer and release and relax and pee while she's playing."
According to Diaperfreebaby.com, an online support group for parents, babies usually need to go to the bathroom right after waking up in the morning, after a nap, and right after a feeding. They also say that a good rule of thumb is that whenever mom has to go, baby most likely has to go as well.
Once her daughter goes, Chase-Salerno says all you have to do is dump the contents from the infant toilet, flush and rinse, and then you're ready for the next one.
These parents aren't alone in practicing elimination communication. Yahoo! lists more than 2,000 members of diaper-free baby support groups in the U.S. Edinger says parents can save hundreds of dollars a year by cutting down on diaper use. However, parents say the best part of practicing elimination communication is getting more in tune with their babies.
"Spring is here and we are catching this stuff a little better," said Chase-Salerno.
And it's getting in touch with their babies which matters more to these parents than what the neighbors will say.