Elimination communication, also known as Natural Infant Hygiene or simply Nappy Free, is a recent trend in Australia. This very natural, gentle, environmentally-friendly way of dealing with your baby’s waste is based on the theory that babies are aware of their elimination processes from birth and are able to communicate this awareness.
The Nappy Free method initially involves lots of observation, with the child being bare bottomed, or in clothing that allows the carer to see exactly when urination or defecation has taken place, and to identify the signs or body language that the baby gives prior to elimination.
This helps to establish a communication link; the baby gives a sign or signal and is held out in a similar position each time, and is cued with the same sounds. Very quickly the baby begins to respond, and may exaggerate their signs, or may cry when he/she needs to eliminate. Likewise, the carers become more and more confident at reading those signs and responding in time to ‘catch’ the elimination. The baby learns to relax their sphincter muscles on cue, thus gaining an awareness of where the muscles are and what purpose they have, as well as an awareness of control.
When you have become aware of some patterns emerging around their elimination needs and communications —for example, most babies eliminate upon awakening, or after a feed and will often wriggle or show discomfort prior to elimination—you can begin to hold them out over a bucket, potty, toilet or even a garden bed when you suspect it may be time.
Sarah Buckley, author, GP and mother of four notes, ‘Elimination Communication also makes a beautiful contribution to my experience of mindfulness in my mothering. Like breastfeeding it keeps me close to my baby, physically and psychologically, and provides immediate feedback when I am not tuned in.’
By Nicole Moore, mother of two nappy free babies and producer of the Nappy Free! DVD.
For more information see this website for Sarah Buckley’s article, Mothering, Mindfulness and a Baby’s Bottom.