Can you even imagine raising a child without nappies? An increasing number of Australia parents are doing just that, joining the US "diaper-free" movement and attempting to toilet train their kids from birth. Confused? Disgusted? So is Zoe Arnold.
I always feel a bit intimidated around hipsters. You know the type: unwashed hair, mismatched clothes, sipping a nut-milk latte while nibbling on goji berries. I never feel cool enough — also I think soap is a really good idea.
However, hipsters inevitably make babies like the rest of us, and give them fabulous names like Juniper and Rainbow. And they also have their own ideas about child-rearing.
Like nappy-free infants.
I'm not talking about babies having nice sun kicks in between nappy wearing. I'm talking about Elimination Communication, a method of toilet training that begins at birth.
The idea behind the method is that our babies make certain gestures or sounds before they need to "eliminate", and it's our job as parents to pick up on those sounds and lift them over a potty/toilet/bowl to do their business.
While I absolutely agree that disposable nappies are terrible for the environment, and arguably, cloth nappies are equally bad, the thought of not using nappies for either of my children almost makes me feel sick.
Just last week my youngest defecated during her swimming lesson. If we were following Elimination Communication I would have seen the signs and rushed her off to a toilet.
But what if I hadn't?
Happily, she was wearing a swimming nappy, so none of the offending matter left her pants. Unhappily, I was still left to clean up the mess in the pool's shower after class. A low point in my parenting experience thus far.
But I digress: back to hipsters who think they can toilet train an infant.
The Elimination Communication movement has received a bit of coverage lately, thanks to a group of parents in Brooklyn, New York.
The New York Times quoted one mother describing parties where people let their children go to the toilet in other people's sinks.
Can imagine a social situation where you asked a friend if your child could poo in their sink? It's beyond disgusting.
It sounds like an "only in America" story, but the nappy-free movement exists in Australia as well.
I have no issue if parents choose to practise this method in their own homes, but I do object when parents say it's okay for their kids to publicly wee and poo in parks, or between parked cars. In an emergency, yes. As a general rule, absolutely not.
At the very least it's a sanitation issue. There are reasons why we have better health outcomes than many other countries, and one of those reasons is that we don't have faeces lying around our streets.
The nappy free movement is gaining momentum though, and last week the first annual "Diaper Free Week" was organised by a group promoting the practice.
Maybe I'm prudish about bowel movements, but I am ever grateful to the inventor of the disposable nappy, who makes motherhood just that tiny bit easier.
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