Heading nappy totally free is the greatest in eco-parenting. This is how it went for me

Have you at any time smelled a faint whiff of poo and promptly checked your footwear to see you have not trodden on any?

It occurred to me the other working day, only the poo wasn’t on my shoes, it was on my shirt.

And it was not a dog’s, it was a human’s.

Faeces smeared on my outfits is just a person of the abnormal things I have experienced in my attempts to be an eco-mum.

From disposable nappies to… nothing?

Let’s rewind back a 12 months to when this ridiculousness initially started, fittingly on April Fools’ Working day. Following a summer season of bushfires, droughts and burning rainforests, I gave start to my 2nd daughter.

It was these environmental disasters, and the terrifying prospect of their amplified frequency, that filled me with dread about incorporating one more human to this overpopulated world. 

But instead of not possessing her at all (for the reason that the realisation arrived at 6 months pregnant — yikes!), I vowed to raise her with the smallest carbon footprint attainable and using zero waste. 

That intended absolutely nothing disposable that would conclusion up in landfill due to the fact of her. In short, none of the stuff that makes modern parenting effortless and practical. 

Making an attempt “zero squander” parenting has led to some rather artistic eco workarounds from fashioning handmade little one wipes out of previous flannel shirts, to recycled nursing pads, and — most importantly — finding an choice to eco-parenting’s enemy amount just one, disposable nappies. 

With my to start with toddler, the comfort of disposable nappies trumped any consideration for the impact they ended up getting on the natural environment. But for my second, even with how substantially I adore them, I have pressured myself to wave goodbye to toss-away nappies — the beautifully useful, wee-soaked polyester that hangs off a baby’s hips like a mobile toilet.

Oh, how I miss out on them.

At first I assumed the very best environmentally-pleasant substitute to disposable nappies was fabric ones. I was mistaken. The supreme squander-free of charge alternative makes use of no nappies AT ALL.

It really is a child-potty teaching strategy termed EC, or elimination conversation, and paediatric nurse Rebecca Mottram says it’s existed for as prolonged as human beings have.

“Nappies are a reasonably modern-day invention,” she states.

“So in a perception, you know, people have accomplished some version of this ever considering that we have been around.”

What is elimination interaction?

So what the hell is elimination communication? It seems like the title of a Terminator prequel, but Ms Mottram points out it can be a very over-the-leading title to describe a thing that in essence involves finding out the alerts and timing of a baby’s designs for when they want to “remove”, i.e. poo or wee, then keeping them about a potty to do it.

“It really is about finding up on individuals signals that your newborn is supplying you when they want to poo and wee and responding to that.”

Ms Mottram writes books, weblogs and provides on line content on her web-site supporting moms and dads recognize EC. She endorses it for the rewards she states it delivers to kids, to your hip pocket and to the earth.

She also claims it truly is a incredibly rewarding expertise for mother and father. 

“You will be persuaded from that stage onwards that it is a great idea due to the fact you know, it is really so pleasurable. It really is like you just truly feel like you happen to be just totally successful at daily life, honestly.”

The additional I acquired about EC, the additional it sounded like an uncomplicated, zero-squander slam dunk. So when it arrived to practising it, why was I this sort of a dismal failure? 

What EC necessitates of you 

Veronica Milsom with her daughters after trying to go no nappy with yer youngest baby
Elimination communication demands time, patience and diligence — which can be difficult with additional than 1 youngster.(



The difficulty was not with the strategy itself, but my (and my baby’s) lack of ability to dedicate to it. I failed the very first, crucial action — the observation period. 

In get to succeed in EC you have to invest time in observing the newborn and familiarising you with their poo and wee “indicators”. This period can consider several hours — you need to have to be client and diligent. But I was too occupied to dedicate myself entirely.

It is a procedure that’d be less complicated with your first youngster, a time when your diary was not chock-complete of 3-calendar year-aged playdates, library visits and childcare commutes.

I will acknowledge, there was one particular fleeting instant of glory the place I held my daughter over the potty and the process labored, but in hindsight I believe it was a fluke, because each other time I tried out the “cue” sound she seemed at me like I was crazy.

Are there explanations not to check out EC?

Regretably it is really not the initial time I have been terrible at anything, so I did what any determined loser does in the identical scenario: I check out to find factors to be thankful for my ineptitude.

The human being I convert to is my father-in-regulation, which might feel odd but he is an grownup and paediatric urologist and a previous president of the Urological Society, so he knows what he’s conversing about. He is also a really fantastic bloke.

His title is Dr Lawrence Hayden and even though he believes that EC could realize superior bowel and bladder command (if practised appropriately by a dedicated father or mother), he also thinks there could be unexpected problems with toilet schooling a newborn infant.

“In our traditional Western solution we ordinarily wait around until finally the boy or girl is 1.5-2 several years old when the anxious procedure is a bit experienced prior to commencing rest room coaching,” Dr Hayden states.

“If the little one does not answer or seem to be interested it can be very best to hold out a couple of months prior to obtaining one more go.

“If the little one is pressured to toilet educate then there can be issues of mismatching the nerve indicators, producing problems with even much more incontinence, bacterial infections and other considerably less frequent but extra severe issues.” 

Dr Hayden suggests potty schooling that is little one led.

“My guidance is to inform the dad or mum to hold out right up until the child reveals fascination, whilst that could not operate for all.”

My ‘not really perfect’ answer

Veronica Milsom with her baby wearing a nappy after trying elimination commmunication
A pivot to one more (not very as eco) alternative greater suited my life-style.(



I really should confess, this discussion took place with our entire family members listening all through our weekly loved ones meal. Luckily he isn’t going to consider rest room communicate is an unsavoury evening meal desk subject matter.

And luckily this talk helped me come to feel superior about not being fantastic (or even pretty fantastic) at EC. 

For me, the respond to was to pivot to yet another (not rather as eco) solution. But one which far better suited my way of life. 

Presently my daughter wears fabric nappies via the day and bamboo biodegradables as a result of the night time. I think it is a great compromise — albeit not Entirely zero waste. 

Even though I failed to realize constant achievements executing EC, I’m happy I gave it a go. For that temporary minute in the 1 time it labored, like Ms Mottram explained, I definitely did truly feel like I was “successful at daily life”.

It was actually glorious, even if it did suggest our celebratory hug afterward left human poo on my shirt.

Veronica Milsom is a radio and podcast presenter and comic. Her podcast is known as Zero Waste Newborn.

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