The first annual Go Diaper Free! Week starts today. Spearheaded by Andrea Olson, author of EC Simplified: Infant Potty Training Made Easy, the event is an effort to raise awareness of EC or Elimination Communication, DNAInfo reports.
According to the Times, Elimination Communication, which the newspaper first reported on in 2005, is now "finding an audience in the hipper precincts of New York City." Specifically, both The Times and DNAInfo point to a store in the hipster mecca of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where growing numbers of new parents are attending Diaper Free in NY meetups. These gatherings include information sessions and are B.Y.O.P. (bring your own potty) -- but there is a restroom.
So, what is Elimination Communication and why are parents doing it? EC is "NOT potty training," the homepage of Diaper Free Baby states clearly. "It is a gentle, natural, non-coercive process by which a baby, preferably beginning in early infancy, learns with the loving assistance of parents and caregivers to communicate about and address his or her elimination needs." In other words -- no diapers, some mess and lots of holding baby over the potty, bowls or containers and even the street, as needed. It is, along with breastfeeding, co-sleeping and babywearing, sometimes considered an integral part of attachment parenting.
As Olson details on her website, the goals of EC range from being environmentally friendly -- Go Diaper Free! Week is timed to coincide with all things green that have grown out of Earth Day festivities -- to fostering a stronger connection between parent and baby. "I love that I can tell when he needs to go," Kaitlin McGreyes, a special education teacher from Queens, New York, who started her son Cesar with EC as a newborn, told DNAInfo. “And [I] have an idea of what might be bothering him.”
Proponents of EC, like Olson, point to other cultures around the world that don't wait until age 3 to potty train. And, while it may be a messy endeavor, especially for parents and babies on-the-go in New York City, The Times says that a spokeswoman for the city's health department didn't call EC a health hazard -- just a "general sanitation issue.” Over at Mommyish, blogger Maria Guido takes that sentiment a beat further:
"I’ve often thought about how much it must suck to be sitting in a dirty diaper – so I can understand where these parents are coming from. I’m not knocking 'elimination communication' as a practice. I just think it’s totally gross to have your child urinating in the street. Is that wrong of me?"
Some pediatricians criticize EC for other reasons. The Times spoke to one doctor who is "skeptical" of an infant being able to learn when he or she has to go to the bathroom. And in response to a story about 6-month-old Izabella Oniciuc, whose parents said she was completely toilet trained, pediatric urologist Dr. Steve Hodges wrote in his Huffington Post blog that the practice results in "damaging habits" for baby, namely "chronic holding ... the root cause of virtually all toileting problems, including daytime pee and poop accidents, bedwetting, urinary frequency and urinary tract infections."