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Putting poop where it belongs

I’m going to talk about poo now.

Since my baby was born,  I clean an average of one shitty diaper every couple weeks.   We’ve never used plastic diapers, and in eight months, I’ve used up one package of wet wipes. We’ve never needed any rash cream. We use cotton tri-fold inserts and second-hand shells that make up a small load of laundry every 3 days.  It’s not as difficult as you may think.  If you want to learn the not-so-magical ways of “pooping” your baby, and Elimination Communication, read on.

Eight months ago I gave birth to my son, Fox Buckminster. With the support of my close friend, Cora, and the wisdom in a book she loaned me, Fox and I have been successful at habituating the same “shit outside your pants” technique that all of us grown-ups seem to  prefer.  Cora lent me Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene  when I was about 6 months preggo. Reading it was so fascinating, I devoured it twice. Interestingly, this book was not filled with instructions on how to successfully achieve a harmonious diaper-free life, rather, it was a general philosophical outlook on naturally parenting a baby with emphasis on their elimination needs.  I learned that most of Earth’s population does not rely on conventional diapering methods, instead, moms  just “pee and poo” their babies using some kind of form of EC.  Aside from talking a lot about Elimination Communication, there was so much great advice on gently approaching my new role as a mommy in a flexible and unique-to-the-individual style. I appreciated the attitude that was kind of like  “use a diaper whenever you want, man. There are no rules, just do whatever works for you. Here are the facts about what’s going on, so make your choices based on those, and don’t forget your good intuition, sister.”

Anyhow, eight months later, and Fox pretty much craps in the toilet, the sink, outside, or his potty all the time. I don’t catch every pee, and like I said, I miss a poo a couple times every month,  but he does pee almost every time I take off his diaper. As most diapering moms and dads know,  it is indeed the natural inclination to eliminate when clothing is removed.

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The Nitty Gritty

So if I had to “give instructions” on how to poo your baby, this would be it:  just give them enough opportunity to do it, and they will usually take it. But it has to be under the right conditions.

What are the right conditions? Well think about under what conditions you need in order to pinch a loaf. For me, I have to feel like I’m in a safe environment where I’m not going to be disturbed. I have to have privacy. Be in a calm mood. Things that help, are the feeling of my butt supported in a familiar position, taking a big deep breath or two, and lots of time to just sit and wait for my guts to move things along.  What I’ve just described are all of the things I make sure are in order for Fox, every time I poop him.

 Babies are the same as grown-ups in this regard.

I hold him in the same position, in the same circumstances, every time. When do I know when he has to go? I don’t, really. But I make sure to give him the opportunity at all the times it seems logical: upon waking up in the morning, lunchtime, if I hear a fart, if I notice him grimace or grunt a little, if it’s been a long time since his last elimination, etc.

It’s just a myth that babies, even newborns, cannot control when they eliminate. Peeing and pooing is not like you get so full of it, that it squishes out ’cause there’s no room left inside you, no. Not at all. Instead, it’s like, your mind and body chooses when to squeeze out whatever is in there, no matter how much it is. Even if you don’t necessarily have to pee, if you make it seem to your body like you’re going to go (like the ritual of going into the private bathroom and sitting on the cold toilet seat), chances are you can get some out. Babies bodies function mostly like adult ones. They aren’t creatures from another planet.

Peeing

Peeing is more like, dribble dribble dribble all day long. If you’re not actively peeing them every 15 friggin minutes, they figure no need to hold it and wait for the next available opportunity, hence dribble dribble dribble. So if you’re set on zero diapering,  you’ll have to be okay with having a fairly pee-soaked life. I’m not so down with that, which is why Fox wears a cotton diaper most of the time we’re out of the house.  When we’re at home or outdoors in fair weather, he’s usually bare-bummed. I have some pretty mindful approaches including lots of receiving blankets that do most of the catching for me.  At night, we sleep on a fleece-lined water-proof blanket in case of leaks. Most of the time he sleeps without a diaper, right next to me in our family bed. I don’t try to catch every pee, because, holy jeez…chasing that dribble all the live-long day is not for me. BUT POOING! We catch almost all of them, simply for how less frequently it happens.

Techniques

Here’s how we started out. As soon as he was born, my mom bought him a stand-alone regular potty in which I placed on the changing table next to our bed. Against the wall I placed a mirror in front of the potty, which was facing away from me. I always kept a little water in it, so it wasn’t so nasty to empty. I would hold him over the potty, one thigh in each hand, and using the mirror, could clearly see his butt and balls. Big deep breath, make the cue-noise (“ppsssss!”), flex my ab muscles against his back, maybe make a grunt or two. Monkey see, monkey do.  Every time, either pee or poo,  his testes would shrivel up and his butt would move down. The key here is to give him lots of time.  At the beginning, I would stand there for like ten minutes waiting for his little body to do the deed. If he signaled he didn’t have to go, I would take him away immediately. Do not force him to stay! If you think he still has to go, try again in a few minutes.  When he is done, his testes would loosen and fall, and his anus would tuck back up between his butt-cheeks. Thats-it-thats-all. Easy peasy. Pass the toilet paper squares.

I consistently kept this same ritual. Over time, he began to realize the objective and I wouldn’t have to wait there so long. I was becoming more and more in tune with his elimination, because after all, I knew exactly how much of my milk was going into him at any given time. As Fox was practicing all of this new having-a-body stuff, I was practicing all of this new mommy stuff. We both got better and better at it. I got less reliant on seeing his under-parts, and he needed my cues less and less. He began to sit up on his own, so we made a graduation to the bathroom so he could sit on the toilet with my support. No matter if we’re on the boat, in a park, on a beach, in the woods, or in a bathroom, I make sure the circumstances, conditions and our ritual is the same.

In closing…

To diaper or not to diaper? Or to diaper only sometimes (like me)? Cotton or plastic? The way I see it, it’s all a question of how do you want to spend your time, and how happy is your child going to be? Think of all the time (and money) it takes to buy the diapers and products. The time it takes to change them and wipe all that crap off their skin. Then weigh that time spent against standing there one-on-one with your love, just waiting. Then there’s the well-being of your child. Think about your baby living with their own waste stored in that saggy undercarriage. A plastic barrier of airflow to their skin  and interrupting how they sit and move their legs. All for what? The convenience for you, their parent?  Then there’s the task of having to “train” them one day out of the blue to not eliminate in their pants anymore. You’ve taught them to go in their clothes all this time, and now you have to train them to go in a toilet instead?  Something about that seems unfair to me. Not to get all judgy here, because some parents are faced with making difficult decisions based on circumstances outside their control – such as really sensitive skin. The point is that it’s important to thoroughly understand why it is we choose what we choose.

Some of my friends are having babies, and I wanted to share with them (and others) just how darn easy it is to poo and pee your baby. The list weighing COST vs. BENEFIT is astounding.

If you’re interested in beginning with your little-un, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is. Not to mention oddly gratifying. The sense of accomplishment is weirdly compelling.  You can start when your child is any age, but if you begin at birth, I imagine the process and progression to elimination independence is easier for everyone.

If you’d like to read the story about how Fox’s home-birth went, here is the link: http://ashta.ca/thoughts/howfoxwasborn

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