“Pss, pss, psssss!”
“Pft! Pft! Pft!”
These are magical words in the Seib house. Mom Kelsey and Dad Jonathan use them to encourage their 16-month-old son Jetlan to pee or poo on the toilet. But that is just a fraction of the daily conversation that’s allowed them to go more or less diaper-free since their son was four weeks old. Jetlan wears a nappy but it is a mere safety net.
“(Babies) will do something when they are that little before they go to the bathroom so I found my son would pass gas before he needed to have a bowel movement,” Kelsey Seib explains.
“And so we just had a big Tupperware bowl, a plastic container, and I would put him into a deep squat so hold his quads and have him sit against me with his back towards me. I would make a sound and that would cue him to go to the bathroom.”
Over time, Jetlan started to associate those sounds with going to the bathroom. Now, at just 16 months old, the parents don’t have to watch for cues. They just have to listen to him.
“He’s sitting in his high chair and he goes, ‘Poop poop poop!’ And so we think, ‘Oh, you’ve got to go to the bathroom.’ We take him to the toilet and he goes!”
“It’s not that they are potty trained, it’s just that they are communicating with you that they need to go. You sort of pick up on those cues. You know when children are tired or that they need a nap. You know when they are hungry. You can also start learning those cues of when they need to go to the bathroom.”
As a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, Dr. Bender says he regularly sees children coming to the clinic for recurrent abscesses in the diaper region, because bacteria target that warm area and get into the skin.
“A lot of times the families report that once they get them out of diapers, the abscesses go away completely and so that made me just start thinking a little more about – if they don’t need diapers at all these kids aren’t going to have these abscesses.”
Dr. Bender and Dr. She say going diaper-free doesn’t only reduce the risk or skin and urinary tract infections, it saves families money on diaper and protects the environment.
“The United States alone creates more than 3.4 million tons of used diaper waste each year,” they write. “Disposable diapers may take more than 500 years to degrade and are thought to comprise a large portion of the Pacific trash vortex.”
While the couple is encouraging caregivers of children to learn about Elimination Communication, they acknowledge EC is not for everyone.
“Families should not be made to feel bad if they elect not to do it,” they write in the report.
Seib admits there have been plenty of accidents along the way, often in cases where she or her husband missed a physical cue nature was calling. But she says the investment early on has paid off.
“I think it was a lot of work in the beginning but you’re at home anyways. They’re napping every two hours….It saved me time now.”
You can read the entire article about natural infant hygiene published in Pediatric Perspectives below.