Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Not Just about Saving Diapers

Now here's an issue with Elimination Communication that I didn't anticipate. Sometimes I actually "catch" the need for elimination but baby has "sharted" in the diaper. It is dry and for the most part clean, but there is a small streak of that yellow poo from the last time he farted.

I almost feel frustrated because I read the signs and got him to the bathroom in time, but then still needed a new diaper. (How much do they cost each?) But then I stop and remember what is important.

  • This is about communication with baby and meeting his needs. Natural Infant Hygiene is not just about saving money. If it was it would be too much pressure and wouldn't be worth it. Attaching an importance to financial success makes it too stressful. 
  • It is also about comfort. I wouldn't put on underwear that was streaked up, he shouldn't have to either. And, if we caught it before he wet or dirtied the diaper then that is a fair amount of time that he doesn't have to sit with his own waste pressed up against his delicate skin. That is a huge win.

So in times like these, as I'm throwing away the diaper that is mostly clean I need to remind myself that it is a win even though we "lost" a diaper. We are communicating and taking our less than two week old baby to the bathroom instead of teaching him to poop his pants. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Squirming, A New Hope

I don't know why I let myself feel discouraged at some points. He is less than two weeks old, I shouldn't expect too much. Still, the other day I was working on some things around the house and holding him. I had just been thinking I would give up on Elimination Communication for awhile because I didn't seem to be doing it right.

But then I looked at him and he was squirming around uncomfortably. He didn't seem tired or hungry, but quit nursing for no good reason. I thought, well he probably needs to go. I will give it a try. 

Sure enough, we went to the bathroom and he had to relieve himself. He waited until we got to the bathroom and in position and then went. I was so happy! These successes only happen once a day, if that, but still, they give me hope! 

Monday, April 28, 2014

First Week of Elimination Communication

I know I'm probably doing it wrong but I still consider our progress with Natural Infant Hygiene to be a success so far.

When baby wakes up I start nursing him right away. Hungry growing boy! I then take him to the bathroom and remove the diaper. I assess if he has soiled it or not. Most of the time there is some urine in it, we are still working on catching those. I figure at this stage I'm better off letting him squirm and go back to sleep in case I'm reading his signals wrong. He is tired and so am I. We are just starting so if we miss most of them it isn't a big deal.

Then I hold him over the sink while I nurse and watch for signals. I watch his face and body language to see if I notice anything different before he starts to go. Most of the time during a nursing session he will eliminate at least once. Usually it is around when we switch from one side to the other. 

Even as I'm holding him here I don't catch all the signals and am caught off guard most of the time. So I'm not going to try to brag that I catch it most of the time because I think it is mostly the fact that I spend a lot of time nursing in the bathroom. (This is starting to take its toll on my back and shoulders so we are going to figure something else out.) 

Still, as I'm nursing and give him a little sponge bath or get the new diaper ready or sing him a song he usually goes. We avoid the crying session of me having to take his old diaper off and put the new one on before he eats. I just take the old one off and clean him up if necessary all while he is nursing. Then I usually wait until he looks calm to put the new diaper on if we are not going to wait for him to eliminate (or if he already did at least once.) 

I guess at this point I figure, I know within about a 45 minute window when he is going to go, so if I can stay in a place where it is appropriate for him to go then it isn't any less convenient than having to change his diaper three times during a feeding session. 

This way, too, I can make the cue sound while he is actively eliminating and help to teach him what that means. Plus I can clean him immediately and let his delicate parts air out for awhile before putting the diaper on him. 

It isn't perfect, but we are learning every day! That's the fun part. Okay, the real fun part is spending time with my special little man. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

First Signals in Elimination Communication

After less than a week of life with my little boy I'm already noticing patterns and signals that he needs to eliminate.

If he is nursing contently he will sometimes stop, pull away, fuss and start trying to suck on the back of his hand. At first I thought we just weren't latching very well, but after awhile I realized that the nursing was just fine, but that he was doing it deliberately so that he could be in a better position to eliminate.

When he first wakes up from a nap he will squirm a little bit before he cries or fusses. He wiggles his legs and moves around. As far as I can tell he does not like to wet himself when he first wakes up and will give me some time to realize what is going on. I have only caught one post-sleep urination, although I'm not entirely convinced they all happened after he was awake. Still, I'm not discouraged but encouraged by this!

A difficult one to spot is a calm peaceful look. It looks the same as when he is just satisfied with the meal he just had. However, sometimes it means that he is going to spray his urine all over like a fountain in about 3 seconds. This cracks me up even though I have a mess to clean afterwards. I still need to work on aiming the little guy in the right direction.

So, as of right now, I'm convinced that every time a baby cries or fusses he has a reason for it. Most common is hungry, second most common is related to elimination, and then discomfort either from being overly tired or gas pains.

Six days old and already communicating! We will learn this language yet!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Challenges to Natural Infant Hygiene with Newborns

I've been working on Natural Infant Hygiene with my newborn for a few days now, I think. Days sort of run together. Here are a few challenges I'm looking forward to overcoming.

  • Positioning - Infants can't hold up their heads so holding them in a proper position to eliminate in the right place is difficult. For now I am holding mine over the bathroom sink. More urine has gotten on to his feet than straight in to the sink, and more poop has gotten on the counter and floor than the sink, but we are getting better every time!
  • Attention Span - Newborns don't really want to spend time being entertained or distracted from eating and sleeping so holding them in position without them crying is difficult. For now I am continuing to breast feed while he eliminates. Guessing if he is giving cues for the front or the back and aiming it properly is an interesting challenge. 
  • Tired Arms and Back - Holding an 8 pound baby while breast feeding and waiting for him to eliminate gets tiring. I'm going to be so swol! 
  • Limited Cues - We are both new at this so we haven't learned a whole lot of signals yet, and some of them are mixed up with other meanings. When we get it wrong we try try again!
  • Texture - Newborn poop comes in a variety of difficult textures to aim. 
Overall I am really pleased with how things are going so far. I'm surprised I've had any success at all and that there aren't more challenges. Natural Infant Hygiene makes sense and it helps reduce frustration rather than causing it. I'm so excited!

Anyone have any tips on how to aim boys better? Please share that or any other thoughts in the comments below. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I Caught My First Poop!


I figured I would give the post nap catch a try. He had just woken up so I took little baby over to the sink to nurse and see if he would go at all. However, I wasn't prepared for it to actually work. I was trying to get ready and do a few other things, too. (This was the day after we left the hospital so we were scurrying to get to his doctor's appointment.)

So I was holding him in an awkward nursing but holding him with one hand position. I had my hand on his little bottom and sure enough, the black tar that newborns are so famous for exploded in to my hand.

I didn't care though! I was excited that it "worked". I knew he would have to eliminate and he did. So I made the cue sound, laughed and got it all cleaned up. 

I just saved a diaper! More than that, it gave me hope that this might work. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Day Two of Life and Natural Infant Hygiene

On the second full day of life my thoughts were more focused on getting breast feeding right rather than on Elimination Communication. After all, if baby doesn't eat then baby doesn't need to eliminate.

Breast feeding is more difficult than I figured it would be, luckily the hospital had very helpful lactation specialists who explained everything and offered tips.

Connecting through feeding time is probably the best way to start communicating with baby anyway, and Natural Infant Hygiene is all about communication. This communication is two ways and both baby and parents are learning. There isn't a whole lot of elimination going on at this point anyway, so there isn't much to worry about.

Going home day is a great day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Baby Boy!

Our perfect little boy was born on Friday! I am so in love with him and he is amazing. I never thought I could just stare at something for so long.

As far as Natural Infant Hygiene goes, the first 24 hours were fantastic. I had never seen that dark tar colored baby poop that comes out of newborns so I wasn't scared at all to hold my sweet baby skin to skin for hours and hours with no diaper.

He only eliminated a few times in the first day and I was too tired to do much about it anyway. Just learning how to put diapers on was a big enough challenge, though I did try to pay attention to his different cries. I figure at this point they can basically only be hungry, gassy, tired or uncomfortable for some reason- wet or in pain from tests.

No need to worry about anything at all the first day. Just enjoy the new little person. There isn't a lot going on for Elimination Communication anyway. Any communication is great.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tentative Natural Infant Hygiene Plan

Well, I'm six days overdue so now is as good a time as any to write out my plan of attack for Natural Infant Hygiene.

Every family's Elimination Communication plan will be different. It all depends on so many factors that no plan would work for everyone. Here are some of the different aspects to decide when considering Natural Infant Hygiene and what I'm planning on doing. 
  • When to start - I'm hoping to start right away with cue sounds even if I'm too tired or sore to try to "catch" any opportunities. If I'm really ambitious I will try to start catching urination chances when he first wakes up from sleeping or right after he eats. From what I've read these are the easiest places to start.
  • Diaper usage - I am going to use diapers as a backup. I know a lot of people use elimination communication without diapers and just deal with getting wet. I don't think that is necessary. I will use them at night for sure and then maybe decrease as we get better at it. I do love the idea of using cloth diapers without the liner so that I know exactly when he gets wet and doesn't have to sit in it. 
  • Co-sleeping - Not in the plan at all. I know that many people who use NIH tend to do things like co-sleep or have a family bed. That is not for me. I mean, I maybe we can lay down together and cuddle for a nap, but that's different. I think it is possible to attend to your baby's needs without having them in your bed. 
  • Baby wearing - Yes, this one is for sure in the plan. I have two different wraps so I can "wear" the baby. This just makes sense to me because it leaves my hands free to do other things and I can keep him close all the time. Plus I've read that people are less likely to touch your baby without asking if you are wearing him.
  • Intensity - I want this to decrease stress, not add to it. So we will do the best we can and if we don't succeed then at least we had a nice time communicating together. I will consider it a success even if we only catch an opportunity once a day or even once a week. 
  • Partner help - I'm not expecting my husband to try to learn signs or anything really. I do expect him to teach me the sign language for different bathroom words (he's teaching the baby sign language and I'm teaching him Farsi and we are helping each other learn). I will ask him to use the cue sounds if he has a chance, but I'm definitely not going to stress out my husband if he doesn't want to participate at all. He can change diapers if that is what is more comfortable for him. Although, I do picture him having fun holding a urinating baby over the bathtub or toilet.
  • Cue sounds - I am planning to use the "ssssss" sound for urination. I still haven't decided if I will use the same or a different noise for defecation. I was going to say "shaash" for urine, that being the Farsi word kids use for going to the bathroom, but it has the "shh" sound in it too much and I've read that it can be confusing for kids to hear the sound too much in every day conversation. Lets just hope people don't go around imitating snakes.
That's all I can think of for now. I will see how it goes with this ... eventually, whenever he decides to let us meet him face to face. 
Do you have a different type of plan? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Family Reactions to Natural Infant Hygiene - Older Brother without Kids

After getting such a great reaction from one of my brothers, I decided to test the waters with the other. I sent him a text message saying I was thinking about trying out the Natural Infant Hygiene Method. He politely asked what that was, I explained it as well as I could. He asked a few more questions and then stopped responding.

The next day I said, "You can tell me I'm weird or crazy, its okay." He said-

It seems a little weird, but so does teaching your kids to poop their pants.

Now that's a great reaction. At that point I told him I would use it in my blog and he just laughed. I figure that the more we talk about it the more people will at least start thinking exactly what he said. Maybe it shouldn't be normal to teach kids to poop their pants.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Diaper Free Book Review

This is the first book I've read about the subject, though I have read several different blogs. I found it to be very useful and extremely encouraging. 

The first section is basically describing what Natural Infant Hygiene is, what it isn't, the history of Elimination Communication around the world, and the disadvantages of using diapers as Western civilizations do. This section is about six chapters of why to use the Natural Infant Hygiene Method. 

I found this section handy for giving me the confidence I need to try this method even though American culture makes it difficult. It also helps give you reasons and research so you can explain the whole process to your friends and family better. 

The next section goes in to the "how" of Natural Infant Hygiene. It has information about what receptacles to use, when to start, how to start, what cue sounds to use, who can help, how to follow your intuition, how to adjust to different aged babies and so on. This section is practical and basically all you need to know about how to get started. 

This part gives advice in a non-judgmental way. It offers tips for people who are going completely diaper free from birth, folk who want to use diapers part time, caretakers who will only use the method at home, and any other level of using elimination communication.It has something for everyone!

Later in that section, or in what seemed like a third section to me, the book goes in to different challenges associated with the Natural Infant Hygiene Method and how to overcome them. It covers disabilities of child or parent, travel, set backs, age, illness and anything else that could cause Elimination Communication to become more difficult than normal. 

This part of the book is a helpful reference as those situations come up, and a nice read to know what can be expected in the future. 

Addressing Issues of Other Reviews
I read one review that complained that the book offered no solution to potty training her four kids while she worked one full time job and one part time job. That is a difficult situation and no book will be able to create extra time magically, but this book does address the fact that you can practice Natural Infant Hygiene part time and it won't hurt anything. It also explains that this is not potty training, and agrees that it does take time to perfect it. Overall, practicing Elimination Communication from birth instead of waiting until later to potty train will save time. That just isn't something Western women always have anymore. 

Other reviewers said they felt "judged" because they didn't use the same parenting techniques as described in the book. (Attachment parenting, bonding time, co-sleeping etc.) I am not going to use many of the methods described and I did not feel judged or inferior at all. In fact, I felt supported and as if I could still use Natural Infant Hygiene in my own way with my own techniques. I can pick and choose which parts of it I want to use and it will still be beneficial to my baby and me.

Most of the negative reviews refer to the method as "Infant Potty Training" which gives me doubts about how much of the book they actually read and how open minded they were to it. Paraphrasing from the book - the goal of natural infant hygiene isn't early potty training any more than the goal of breastfeeding is weening. 

Some complain that there isn't enough information about how to actually do it. I can understand that as I came away still not having a firm grasp of how to "aim" my little boy once he is born. I do believe, however, that there was plenty of information to get started and that the rest has to be learned through experience. There are several common or popular cues that babies express, but there is no way to know which ones your baby will use. It is a great companion guide to real life experiences. 

A few of the reviewers said that they preferred other books of the same topic over this one. As I mentioned above, I haven't read any others so maybe there are better ones. I will review those as I read them and let you know which ones I found to be most helpful. In the meantime, this one is a great place to start. 

Do you have any questions about this product that I didn't answer? Do you have any experience with this book or others like it? I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Family Reactions to the Natural Infant Hygiene Method - Older Brother with Three Kids

I was text messaging with my brother about how babies are much smarter than we give them credit for. We talked about how they are good at learning languages and can communicate with sign language much before they can speak. Since we agreed about how babies are more capable than commonly believed I decided it was time to see what he thought about Natural Infant Hygiene.

I basically sent a text that said that I am going to try Elimination Communication because of that belief that babies can do more than we think. He said, "I don't even know what that is but it sounds interesting!"

I love his enthusiasm! So I explained it and what my plan was and everything. He was genuinely interested and even said he wasn't surprised that people in other countries do this almost exclusively and only have rare "accidents" or messes.

His opinion is important to me about this not just because he is my brother and I respect him, but because he has raised three of his own kids so he knows the challenges that come with potty training. He is familiar with babies and their capabilities.

I am so excited to be able to talk to him about my successes and failures. It feels so good to be supported by an experienced parent! I'm even more enthusiastic to start the Natural Infant Hygiene Method now.

And, just for an update, the baby is due tomorrow! We'll see how that goes.

Share your thoughts about family reactions to Elimination Communication below! Thanks!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Family Reactions to the Natural Infant Hygiene Method - Husband and Father

I love my husband so much. I know he thinks I'm nuts for some of my ideas about ... well everything from food to child rearing, but he always listens and gives my thoughts a fair chance.

He listened to all I had to say about the process, why it works, where people use it and what the techniques and challenges would be. He asked follow-up questions and everything!

I think he is most attracted to the idea that it has the potential to save a lot of money. I looked online briefly for an estimate on what diapers cost per year. I found anything from $600 to $1000. The higher end of the range included the cost of wipes as well. Plus we could add ointments, powders, special trash bags and everything else.

There are a lot of better places that money could go than in the trash can, literally. His exact reaction:

Its worth a try.

He didn't mean it to be discouraging or intend for me to feel like I can't do it. He really meant that even if it doesn't work then we've lost nothing, but if it does then we will have saved a lot of money and hassle. 

He understands that it isn't expected to be a miracle right at first, but likes the idea that most babies who use Elimination Communication are pretty much potty trained before their diapered counterparts even start relearning to control their sphincter muscles.

I don't know to what extent he will try it himself. He works more than 40 hours a week so it will be a challenge for him to learn the cues and such. But, what dad doesn't love the idea of going outside and teaching his son to pee on a tree? He could be having that bonding experience in just a few months instead of years. Awww.

I'm really grateful that my husband is supportive of this. I think it would be really difficult to do if he didn't at least accept it. 

Any guys out there have thoughts on the subject of Dads and Elimination Communication? Any moms have husbands who aren't as in to Natural Infant Hygiene as you are? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Family Reactions to the Natural Infant Hygiene Method - Mom

Maybe she was busy, or maybe I didn't explain it properly but I was very surprised when my typically curious and supportive mother reacted to my idea of trying Elimination Communication with my baby.

Good luck with that.

I could feel the sarcasm dripping in the text message. As I said, it struck me as very odd considering the fact that she is at least interested in all my other ideas like baby wearing and avoiding vaccines. 

I should have expected some people would think that I'm crazy or stupid for wanting to try. Some people will absolutely misunderstand Natural Infant Hygiene to be "baby potty training" - which it isn't. And some folk will assume I have unrealistic expectations and think that my baby will never have a wet or dirty diaper. I guess I just wasn't prepared for one of the nay-sayers to be my mom. 

Of course, I'm still going to try it but I was flooded with feelings of doubt and a little bit of concern about accepting visitors so soon after the birth. (We are letting family come visit from out of town no sooner than two weeks after delivery so we can have time to establish a rhythm as a new family before we have to start being polite to loved ones who offer unsolicited advice about what we are doing wrong.)

Still, people will start visiting and I will have to be prepared to continue whatever I'm doing with Natural Infant Hygiene at that stage, and it certainly won't be perfected in less than a month. I suppose I better brace for people being critical of it. 

The nice thing is that the book I'm reading about it has six chapters talking about how great it is, how well it will work, and all the benefits of doing it. It isn't the same as finding a person who is supportive and encouraging, but it does help boost my confidence in my decision to try.

Whether or not my mom is right in her idea that it is unrealistic, I am still going to try and enjoy the efforts towards communication on a deeper level with my little baby. Plus, I do plan on trying to explain the process and idea of Elimination Communication to her again at some point. I will try to learn how to explain it so it makes more sense. 

Have you had any surprisingly discouraging reactions to your plans to use the Natural Infant Hygiene Method? Please share in the comments below!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Starting to Consider Natural Infant Hygiene

Here is my first journal post about Elimination Communication. My baby isn't even born yet. (We're due next week.) A few weeks ago I was looking over our baby registry and saw that we hadn't gotten the book about Natural Infant Hygiene that I wanted. So I finally just bought the Kindle version of Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene.

I'm not finished with it yet but I will write a more complete review when I am. So far the ideas are compelling. I'm going to give it a try for several reasons:

  • Babies in other non-industrialized countries don't wear diapers and don't make messes all over the place, so it must be possible.
  • Diapers are expensive.
  • Diapers cause problems that shouldn't exist (or should be extremely rare) like rashes and infections. 
  • I fail to see how changing diapers for three to four years and then potty training is more convenient than helping a baby go to the bathroom when they need to.
  • If I had poop or urine in my underpants and could do nothing about it myself I don't think there is anything else in the world that I would accept as being more urgent to my caretakers. 
  • The idea of communicating on this level with an infant is exciting and intriguing to me. 
There are many other reasons people choose to try this way of life, but I am currently most interested in that last one. 

To be honest, I haven't been excited about having a baby for this entire pregnancy. Call me a bad mom if you like, but I've never been in to babies. I don't remember the last time I held one and I wasn't one of those little girls who played house and just wanted to be a wife and mother her whole life. God bless those women! (One of them did a wonderful job raising me.) 

I've just never been that sentimental I guess. Maybe there is something wrong with me, or maybe there is something wrong with the perception of infants that our culture gives us. The impression I've always had is that, "All babies do is eat, sleep, cry, and poop." I'm sure that is how they spend most of their time, but being described as such makes them seem more like an inanimate obligation than an intelligent human capable of thought and learning.

Babies know when they are hungry and when they are full. They know when they are tired. They can communicate when they are uncomfortable or something is wrong. Why do we assume that they can't communicate when they need to eliminate their waste? Why would God neglect that urge until they are three or four years old? That just doesn't make sense to me.

It makes much more sense to me that babies are capable of doing this, that it takes some practice and that they can learn fairly quickly if their parents pay attention and want to learn. 

Now that I look at a baby as a tiny human who wants to learn and is capable of it right from the start, I am finally excited for him to be born. I don't know how to bring it up to other people (besides my husband) that the thing I'm most looking forward to after birth is learning to communicate with my baby about when he has to go to the bathroom, but there it is. 
I don't know if it will work. Maybe I will be terrible at it, but I am so excited to try to anticipate my baby's needs, to treat him like a human with dignity right from the start, and to learn to communicate with him before he can even talk.

Thanks for reading my first thoughts about Natural Infant Hygiene! Please share your ideas or questions in the comments below!