Diaper-Free Part 3 – Practicing Going Diaper-Free

In my previous post, I looked at how parents can learn their baby’s elimination cues.  In this post we’ll look at some of the more practical aspects of going diaper-free.

The Benefits of Going Diaper Free

There are many benefits associated with practicing diaper-free:

  • saves the environment – less disposable diapers, less washing of reusable diapers.
  • saves money – you don’t have to pay for diapers.
  • bonding between parent and child – learning to read a baby’s elimination cues is a relationship building process.
  • eliminate problems associated with diapers – such as diaper rash.
  • increased comfort for your baby – it seriously can’t be enjoyable wearing a diaper with pee or poop in it.
  • easier cleaning for parents – it is definitely easier to wipe just the anus than to clean a whole bottom smeared with poop.  If your baby poops straight into the toilet, there is no need to deal with poopy diapers – definitely a plus!

The Issues with Going Diaper-Free

Despite the many pluses of going diaper-free, the practice might still seem rather daunting for many parents.  Indeed, it did for me.  Peeing and pooping an infant in public especially when you’re on your own and handling a pram and the baby bag at the same time is a rather complicated act.  Add to the fact that infants have smaller bladders and will have to go to the bathroom more regularly – well, this certainly presents an extra challenge for a parent who is always on the go.

Not only is the actual practice messier, but trying to read the signs of a baby who hasn’t quite learned to communicate with you can be difficult, especially if you are a parent who is sometimes a little slow on the uptake (I know I am).  Toddlers who are being potty trained have usually learned words like “potty”, “wet”, and “dry” which is definitely a lot easier to understand.

Practicing the Diaper-Free Movement Part Time

The diaper-free movement doesn’t necessarily have to be an all or nothing approach.  If the thought of going completely diaper-free sounds too much for you, then try doing it part time.  Some parents have their babies diaper-free at home and diapered when they go out.  And if that is still too difficult, then try having your baby diaper-free for just a few hours a day. As your confidence builds, you can increase the duration that your baby goes diaper-free according to your level of comfort with the practice.

If you do intend to practice part time, a good time to start is in the morning immediately after waking.  Since most babies usually eliminate quite soon after waking, this is a good one to catch.  Having a few successes under your belt will also help to build confidence.

The first time I caught Gavin’s pee in the morning was quite an exciting moment for me.  It was almost as if I didn’t really believe in the whole diaper-free movement until that point.  It sounded like a practice that only some parents could achieve but definitely not me.

When to Start

Ideally, the earlier you start the better.  I made the mistake of waiting until Gavin could sit up (with assistance) before I started potty training him.  Since I had no experience nor did I know anyone personally who had practiced EC, I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it.  In my mind, I could only picture the process once Gavin could sit assisted and I could help him sit on a potty while he did his business.

In actual fact, you don’t really have to wait that long.  You can start reading your baby cues from birth and let your baby pee or poop lying down on a mat (diaperless).  You don’t have to physically hold him over the toilet or the sink.

Positions for Eliminating

1. Lying Down

Newborns can practice eliminating while in the lying position on a mat.  The important thing is that your baby gets the opportunity to eliminate freely without a diaper and the waste is removed immediately.

2. The Cradle Position

Once your baby has more control over his neck, you can cradle your baby as he lies along your forearms with his head in the crook of your elbow and one thigh in each hand.  Hold your baby in this position over the toilet bowl or a receptacle for the poop and pee and make the cuing sounds to encourage your baby to eliminate.

One of the problems with this position is that it can be a strain on your back as you stoop over the toilet bowl.  As your baby grows older and gets heavier, this will only get worse.  Alternatively, you can allow your baby to pee or poop into a receptacle that can be adjusted to a height level where you don’t have to bend down.

The other problem with this position is that some babies may find it difficult to poop with their legs in the air.  Some infants and young children need to brace their feet against something solid to poop.

3. Sitting on a Potty

You can also wait until your child is able to sit assisted and use a potty.

4. Sitting on the Toilet

You can hold your baby sitting on the toilet with a child seat or you can position yourself behind your child and seat your child in front of you.

Poop-Training is Easier

At least it was in my experience.  I have also read testimonies from other mothers that they felt the same.  Even if all you succeed in the end is to poop-train your baby, that’s still a good achievement.  The benefit is less poopy diapers to deal with and that was one thing I really enjoyed about practicing the diaper-free movement.

I was never really very successful with the peeing part.  I managed to catch Gavin’s pee on occasion but it would usually be a fluke.  I think it was because it was harder to read Gavin’s peeing expression, whereas his pooping expression was very clear to me.

Gavin was pooped-trained by 6-7 months.  We even had one experience where Gavin pooped in the aeroplane toilet while we were flying to Melbourne to visit my parents.  Hubby joked that Gavin had joined the mile-high club.


As far as I understand, these will also occur as your baby grows older.  There are any number of reasons for this.  For instance, Gavin’s first regression occured in Australia because he wasn’t used to exposing his bottom in the much cooler Melbourne climate.  He would rather poop into a warm diaper than into a somewhat drafty toilet.

Likewise, as your baby moves into toddlerhood regressions can and do occur.  It may be because your toddler is suddenly distracted by the many tasks he is now trying to accomplish or simply because he is trying to make a show of autonomy.  Whatever the reason or the cause, just be patient, understanding and keep trying.

For more information on practicing the diaper-free movement, Clarissa from Idyllic Youth has been much more successful at it with her 1 year old daughter than I ever was with Gavin.  Do wander over to her blog and take have a read of her experiences.


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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