When my sons were babies, I remember reading about elimination communication -- the practice, according to the Wikipedia definition, of using timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant's need to eliminate waste -- and thinking to myself, those parents are fucking nuts. Not, well that's certainly a different path than what I choose but we're all special snowflakes! Just: They. Are. NUTS.
I'm not quite so prone to snap judgments about such things now that I'm not personally responsible for dealing with every substance that comes out of my children's rear ends, but when I read this recent article on how urban EC-loving parents are dealing with their babies' inevitable public messes, I'm right back to thinking that this is a truly crazy trend. Because if you're happy to let your child take a non-diapered dump AT A RESTAURANT TABLE ... well, I'm sorry, your lifestyle choices are infringing on my right to eat a non-feces-scented salad and THAT'S NOT OKAY.
For those who are unfamiliar with what elimination communication (or EC, as it's often called) is all about, it's basically about watching your baby for signs that he or she needs to eliminate, and attempting to "catch" the waste via potty chairs, bowls, sinks, or what have you. EC practicers communicate special sounds to their babies (usually an "ssss" or "shhh" sound) in order to create an association between the sounds and feeling relieved.
Advocates say this practice enhances interaction and communication between parents and babies, and can cut way back on diaper-related downsides like rashes, expense, and environmental concerns. They also point out that it's hardly a new trend, being as how about half of the world's children (mostly in Asia and Africa) never wear diapers.
The downside (well, in my mind, one of the MANY downsides) is that an infant's muscles aren't typically developed enough for independent toilet training before they turn 2. So that's a pretty good stretch of time where you have to personally project manage your kid's waste cycles.
As for how parents deal with the challenge of a diaperless baby in public, some city dwellers simply let their babies use the street as their own private restroom. As one mom put it,
Sometimes the thrill of being able to go outside and pee is just what [babies] need. In the suburbs people set up potties in the trunk of their cars. That made me jealous. But in New York no one cares what you are doing. You can hold your baby to pee pretty much anywhere. Especially since few people would have any idea what you are doing.
Another mom said she would try to use a bathroom first, but otherwise, a park or drainage area would suffice:
We would get off the subway, I would take him into the toilet. Sometimes there were times it was hard to find a public bathroom in New York. Asking to use bathrooms helped me get over shyness. (At parks and playgrounds) finding a little area of grass or some bushes was good. I’ve not owned a dog in the city, but I can relate. I would try not to have him pee on the sidewalk. I would try to find a drain pipe ... on the corner of streets.
Last but not least is this story from an EC mom who took her diaperless baby out to eat:
The other day we accidentally left the house without putting her in a diaper before going to a restaurant. We peed her on the sidewalk, but she wouldn’t go. Then we tucked a pre-fold [cloth diaper] under her [at the restaurant table]. We were in a place where we didn’t want her to go and we didn’t want people talking about it.
Okay. Okaaaayyyyyy. I'm ... yeah, I'm pretty grossed out by the idea of letting babies pee and poop all over city streets. Yes, dogs are doing this too, but ... what, are dogs the gold standard now? And just because no one cares what you're doing doesn't make it okay, for crying out loud. (I bet the person who accidentally steps in your child's puddle DOES care, actually.)
Plus, a non-diapered infant at a restaurant table? Dude, that's crossing a line. It's one thing if your baby is bare-bottomed in your own home and you're the one who gets to "sss" all day long and rush to and from the potty chair, it's something else entirely to "pee" your baby on a SIDEWALK then cross your fingers there isn't an uncovered blowout as you enjoy your meal.
In conclusion, ew. And also, I think you owe New York an apology, street-peeing EC moms.
What do you think about elimination communication? Are you okay with babies peeing and pooping outside?
Image via lkonstanski/Flickr