Learning the cue for baby poo

January 8, 2018 by Teresa Belcher, Particle

Changing nappies is probably one of the most unpleasant things that goes along with having babies. It also creates an enormous amount of waste to be disposed of, but there is another way.

In Australia alone, it's estimated that over 2 billion nappies are disposed of each year.

Worldwide, nappies account for 1 – 2% of the world's non-biodegradable waste, and the first ones won't finish biodegrading until the year 2500.

But, imagine a world without those pooey nappies.

A move to a natural approach

A re-emerging practice—known as 'elimination communication'—is slowly growing in western cultures.

It means understanding cues babies give when they need to go to the toilet and supporting them to go naturally.

Dr. Sarah Buckley—GP, mother of four and author of Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering—says this is not new.

"It's a system of natural communication between mothers/carers and ," she says.

"Many people from Chinese, Indian and African backgrounds still practise this natural approach, but there is no name for it."

In these cultures, babies spend much of their day being carried around so mothers can easily respond to their baby's cues.

Chinese parents still use open crotch pants in clothing so babies can squat and go.

"Our culture hasn't done it for a few generations, and we've had to name it and figure it out within our western lifestyles," Sarah says.

But do nappies save the day—and mess?

With the invention of the disposable nappy in 1948 by Johnson & Johnson and encouragement from paediatricians to not rush toilet training, much of western society embraced the use of nappies.

Sarah says many parents are wrongly taught that children don't have bladder control until the age of 2.

"This is not the case—babies can feel and communicate sensations from the bladder," she says.

"Think of other animals that don't 'foul the nest'."

Sarah successfully practised elimination communication with her fourth child, Maia.

"For me, it was a bit like breastfeeding—we developed mutual understanding and communication, so I could respond to her needs."

"It's quite mind-blowing that babies have this capacity."

Knowing the pee or poo cue

She says parents can easily try this out themselves.

"Your baby gets a look on their face when they're about to poo or gives some other signal. This is when you hold them over a receptacle—a sink, small potty or even a bowl."

She also says that, often when babies wake up, they will pee and generally poo after something to eat—something in, something out.

"You figure out the cues, and after a while, you have an instinct when your child needs to pee," she explains.

"And you save lots of nappies too!"

She says parents can also use a sound (such as 'psssss') that their baby learns to associate with eliminating.

Bare bottoms win

Ultimately, Sarah says not wearing a nappy is a big advantage.

"There are no rashes, and you don't have to wash or buy them or deal with waste."

"And imagine all the money spent on disposables."

"This is the ultimate ecologically friendly way to raise your . It's just brilliant for the planet."

Explore further: Research study: Whistle away the need for diapers

Related Stories

Research study: Whistle away the need for diapers

January 30, 2013
Western babies are potty trained later these days and need diapers until an average of three years of age. But even infants can be potty trained. A study by researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, ...

Britain fights disposable 'nappies'

February 14, 2006
Local officials across Britain are offering incentives to parents who stop using disposable diapers, or "nappies," that are swamping landfill sites.

Research finds babies that feed themselves have no increased risk of choking

December 7, 2017
New research from Swansea University shows that letting babies feed themselves solid foods from as young as six months does not increase the risk of them choking compared to spoon-feeding them.

Learning to read infant hunger cues

November 17, 2015
Obesity is the second highest contributor to poor health and premature death in Australia and it's on the rise, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Before babies understand words, they understand tones of voice

August 24, 2017
Before babies start saying words, it is hard for parents to know whether their little one actually understands the things that they say to them. Many parenting magazines and books recommend speaking to children even before ...

Understanding toilet training around the world may help parents relax

November 20, 2017
Are two-year-olds too young to start toilet training?

Recommended for you

Inflammation in the womb may explain why some babies are more prone to sepsis after birth

October 9, 2018
Each year 15 million infants are born preterm and face high risks of short- and long-term complications, including sepsis, severe inflammation of the gut, and neurodevelopmental disorders. A new report in the American Journal ...

Dummies not to blame for common speech disorder in kids

October 9, 2018
New University of Sydney research shows bottles, dummies, and thumb sucking in the early years of life do not cause or worsen phonological impairment, the most common type of speech disorder in children.

'Genes are not destiny' when it comes to weight

October 9, 2018
A healthy home environment could help offset children's genetic susceptibilities to obesity, according to new research led by UCL.

Old drug could have new use helping sick premature babies

October 8, 2018
Researchers from The University of Western Australia, King Edward Memorial Hospital and Curtin University are investigating whether an old drug could be used to help very sick premature babies.

Insufficient sleep associated with risky behavior in teens

October 1, 2018
Adolescents require 8-10 hours of sleep at night for optimal health, according to sleep experts, yet more than 70 percent of high school students get less than that. Previous studies have demonstrated that insufficient sleep ...

Checked off 'the talk' with your teen? Not so fast: Once isn't enough

October 1, 2018
Patting yourself on the back for gritting through "the talk" with your kid? Not so fast: new research from Brigham Young University family life professor Laura Padilla-Walker suggests that when it comes to your teens, one ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.