Natural Parenting

Natural pregnancy, birth, and parenting: healthy, happy and ecological ideas from a mother's personal experience.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


(article published in Green Parent magazine Winter 2006)

It's cheaper, it's healthier, it's better for the environment.

It saves time, money and energy and with concern growing about climate change and landfill, it's helping to make a contribution. I hope that early potty training - or the 'No Nappies' technique - will replace the disposable nappy soon.

Since my son Oscar was 4 months old, I have been experimenting with the 'No Nappies' technique - also known variously as 'Elimination Communication', 'Natural Infant Hygiene' and 'Infant Potty Training' - and sitting him on the potty when I thought he needed to poo. Slowly we got into a routine and now, at 10 months old, he is almost always pooing in the potty. OK, I do still use nappies, but they just don't have any poo in them which makes my life a lot easier and cleaner!

I want to share my experience in the hopes that other parents may give it a go or be prompted to share their experiences too.


When Oscar was born, I started off using biodegradable disposable nappies, but I soon became disgusted by the amount of waste I was producing. I then began using 'Cotton Bottoms' cloth nappies which involved slightly more effort - but really all I wanted to do was dispense with all nappies as soon as I could!


I started to do some research and found out about mothers in Uganda who seem to know instinctively when their babies want to go to the toilet and just nip behind a bush with them. In addition, some grandmothers in my village mentioned that they used to hold their babies over the toilet or potty as a normal part of their daily routine. I'm sure it was more common in pre-disposable nappy days, as parents didn't want to wash any more nappies than necessary.

Through my research I discovered that many countries start using the potty when their babies are around 3-6 months old. This is a technique that is becoming more fashionable in the United States where it is known as 'Elimination Communication', but here in the UK we don't tend to potty train until our babies are 2 years old - and that's a hell of a lot more nappies to wash, or buy and dispose of.

I couldn't find a lot of information about how to do it but I decided to experiment for myself and see how it went.


It took me a messy couple of weeks to get to know Oscar's toilet routine. I started by simply taking his nappies off to let him air and to get to know what he was up to underneath. In the beginning, it took a LOT of patience and rushing around to catch wees and droppings that went all over the floor. I kept giving up thinking it was not working while the time I spent cleaning up meant I couldn't get on with any work or chores.

But my main obstacle was the lack of literature about the 'No Nappies' technique. I found I was trying to follow a theory which had few pre-existing guidelines.

I resorted to trial and error, and eventually discovered a method. At first Oscar seemed to poo directly after his breast feeds and then gradually it changed to every morning and evening after feeds, around the same time each day. His regularity made it a lot easier for me. I simply put him on the pot after each feed. I don't know how it would work with less clockwork babies but some babies, like Oscar, make a little moaning noise or have a far away look before poo-ing which gives parents a bit of warning.

Some parents also suggest making a consistent noise when your baby eliminates so that they associate it each time they go.

Commentators have raised concerns about the pressure this technique can put upon the baby and the parents but for my family, the whole experience has felt quite relaxed and natural. Sometimes I have trouble getting Oscar to sit on his pot but this problem usually passes, I always give him some toys to play with to distract and relax him. For me, the key is to be relaxed about it too. I never try to force it so if nothing has happened within 10 minutes then I don't push it - I just give up and wait until the evening or next morning.

I began putting Oscar on the pot at around 4 months old, backwards at first to support him while he was learning to sit up properly. He is now 10 months and crawling, and still using his potty twice a day. I am aware that as he becomes more mobile, this could all change but so far it has worked for us.


I do still use cloth nappies in between poos, as his wees don't seem to have the same regularity, but using the pot for pooing and the cloth nappies the rest of the time has so many benefits both for Oscar and me and for the environment.

It means I don't need to use wipes and creams and Oscar suffers less from nappy rash. He is less exposed to the chemicals in disposable nappies and I do not have to suffer with a crying baby sitting in wet poo. My weekly shop is also a lot cheaper as there are no nappies in the trolley!

In terms of the environment, I am not adding to landfill and because his cloth nappies only have wee in them I don't need strong washing powder or bleach. I can also use cooler washes in the washing machine and there is less tumble drying. I even flush his waste down with mine to help conserve water.

Of course this isn't a perfect technique and we do get the odd accident, especially when he is ill, but most of the time it seems to work. Oscar using the potty has not caused any inconvenience to our lives and he comes everywhere with us and does everything we do - I just bring the potty with me.

I'm sure most people could work out their own version of the 'No Nappies' technique to fit in with their lifestyle.


I'd be very interested in hearing from anyone who has experimented with or succeeded in this or any similar 'No Nappies' technique. I'm hoping to set up a website and spread the word as I'm sure it could benefit lots of people.

Weblinks for eco nappies and No Nappy techniques: Suffolk Real Nappy Network, Beaming Baby natural products, Potty article 1, Potty article 2, Potty article 3


At 9:29 PM, Blogger Daisy said...

You can use eucalyptus oil as well as tea-tree - i prefer it - for disinfecting the rags.
Garance is 3 months old so not long to go to start tyring your progressive method.
She is in cloth nappies - some called "modern baby" - they get pretty soaked so she gets stuck in huggies too i am afraid - esp at night. Hackney sorts out £51 reimbursement for real napps.
Hols, love your blog, and looking forward to reading about babies being outside in the weather - you were going to write something about that weren't you?

At 8:00 PM, Anonymous ann_of_loxley said...

For the first time on a visit to Waitrose I came accross this magazine called 'The Green Parent'...I picked it up to have a look and the first page I opened it up to was the your article on 'Look, no Nappies!' - I didnt even need to look at the rest of the magazine to know I was going to be buying it!
I have been doing IPT with my son from 11 months old - and I am the ONLY person that I know who does it, despite the countless number of mother/parenting websites I have visited! I thought I would visit your 'Blog' posted at the bottom of the page since I also have a son who is 16 months of age!
Though I dont do all things 'AP' - I would deffinatly consider myself a 'Green Parent' - but I have to say the road is a lonely it seems!
The first thing I remember my Mother-in-law telling me after my son was born was how she started to 'potty train' her children at that age...needless to say I thought she was crazy! But somehow, like after you find out you are pregnant you all of a sudden notice every other pregnant woman on your daily quests - I started to notice little things here and there on EC/IPT and all of a sudden it clicked, it made sense!
What a lovely and close bond I have with my son and what a wonderful adventure every milestone is - and I love nothing more than a challenge! I decided to use cloth nappies with my son the moment I found out I was pregnant but I was in for a shock to find out just how many choices there were - at least I had a good few months to decide which to eventually go for! But EC/IPT is so much more for mother and baby - its about the whole experience and not just getting on with things...From 'co-sitting' to his first potty at a year old we have come a long way in just a few months! He will now go and 'get' his potty when he needs to use it and will happily sit on it to do his 'business' and I have to say, it is a whole lot nicer than scraping it off his bottom!
I feel good in a warm and fuzzy kind of way knowing that I have found my place in parenting and a good magazine (including your blog!) to help me along the way and not feel so 'alone' in the choices that I make not only for myself, but for everyone on this planet we call Earth - So thank you for sharing part of your life with me!

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Tokyo New Mothers Group said...

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