In the category of on-the-edge child rearing trends comes diaper free parenting. I thought this died a quick death after its 5 minutes of fame on the front page of the Sunday New York Times some months back. Apparently not.
Proponents of the diaper free movement advocate elimination communication (EC), or close attention to a baby’s cues of impending elimination. Babies are positioned and then coaxed with the enticing sounds of nature. You can read a first hand account of one diaper free Dominic on MSNBC. I can only describe the story as gripping.
As a pediatric gastroenterologist I have to ask why.
While babies are capable of primitive conditioning, EC remains nothing other than this. True control of elimination can occur only after a child’s first birthday – for many it’s closer to the second birthday. It’s at this time that the association of rectal fullness can be associated with impending elimination. And it’s only at this time that volitional control of the external sphincter can be exercised with the intent to hold onto their business.
While these Pavlovian pranks make fodder for the media, I’m not impressed. I’m tempted to think that diaper free parenting, like so many child rearing fads, may be more about mom than baby.