As a conscientious person on this beautiful Earth, I had just about had it with disposable diapers. Granted, I was using 7th generation diapers. They are made from recycled material and are chlorine free, but they are still going to hang out in a landfill with their 22 billion other friends that get thrown there every year (in the U.S. alone) for about half a millenium. Not cool. So, I started looking into cloth diapers but this didn't solve my crisis of conscience. Truth be told, I was daunted by the whole cloth diaper and pail maintenance, but I was ready to go. I started doing some research and asking some moms about cloth diapering. I was sad to hear that most moms washed a load of laundry every other day (some even every day). When I called the people at Gdiapers told me they waited up to 3 days maximum to do a cloth diaper load. I understand now that cloth diapers are tedious to maintain and need to be properly cleaned and disinfected with the hot water in the washing machine. And since I could never feel good about washing a load or two or laundry every other day, I began to suspect this was not for me. Each load of laundry uses 70 gallons of water. Add to that the use of hot water and there you have a whole lot of energy and water being used for these "sustainable" cloth diapers. I wash laundry once a week and in as few loads as possible. I concluded this was not an option for me. So, I thought of hand-washing cloths. This was a viable alternative, albeit extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive.
Then it hit me... I'll EC her full time!
EC stands for Elimination Communication. A lot of people think it's about getting your baby out of diapers in X amount of time. But truly, it is what the name says it is- a communication. Babies are not born wanting to wet and soil themselves. It is because people put them in diapers long enough that they become trained to go on themselves and then 2 years later when you want to train them OUT of that training, you have big messes to pick up and possibly a lot of tears and struggles to face. Our little one has been cueing us about her bladder and bowel movements since the beginning. My husband started putting her on the potty as early as 1 month old. Back then it was practiced very occasionally. Now we catch all her bowel movements. We do this several ways: by timing, by intuition or by cueing. It works and it is the natural approach to responding to that particular need as it is towards feeding and any other needs a baby has.
So why not full time if I'm already doing it part time?
I decided it was time to go full-time. I bought two more potties (one for my mom's house and one portable folding one with 100% biodegradable single-use liners), some more fleece throws for the floor or to hold her while she's al fresco and some baby training pants. I'm ready!
I do understand that this isn't for everyone although I will say the world would be better off for it, resulting in fewer diapers in landfills and less water usage. I am not grossed out by things easily so I don't mind getting peed or pooped on. I just clean up quickly and get over it. In the week that we have been practicing full time EC, I've been peed on so many times, I've already lost count. The living room's area rug is suffering for it too... we've had some pee and a couple poo accidents there but it's in very small amounts so it's a quick clean up. There have been plenty of times where I've been getting ready to go out while she's going al fresco on her wool pad on the floor with her toys and when I'm all done and ready I pick her up to get her ready and get going and then feel a rather warm sensation running down my leg or thigh. And then it's time to start the getting ready process all over again. Sometimes I take her to pee with me and in the 2 seconds it takes for me to take off her diaper to put her on her own potty, she has already started on my lap. I do still have disposable diapers on hand, but I am now using less than half of what I was used to thanks to diaper free time and to her training pants which I wash by hand in hot water when they get dirty. EC is funny and annoying and very challenging until you get into the habit of it, but I think it's worth it.
I don't think the "cloth vs. disposable" discussion gives parents a fair and complete view of how to handle babies' elimination. EC is an option just as doable as cloth and disposables but it's one that has been shrouded in mystery and treated like something archaic when really it's how babies were born to eliminate. And to add to its good points, it's really cute to watch babies push and grunt and then smile at their accomplishment! My little one gets so happy, so it makes me happy too!