23 June 2017

Potty Training ... From Birth


By Mica Trappl

When my little baby girl was born, I was in the same situation as so many women around me. I had to make decisions concerning the care of my baby and one of the trickiest ones I found was the nappy question.

I thought cloth nappies were a good idea. I've always had a very strong commitment to the environment. However, cloth didn't really seem like the best alternative either (although light-years more environmentally friendly than "disposables") as cloth nappies and covers do still involve the use of fabrics and plastics, and the manufacturing process - using energy and resources; you still have to waste thousands upon thousands of gallons of water in order to launder them, you still have laundry detergent going into the sewage system, and you still have to use energy to power the washer and dryer several times a week. But what could I do? Nappies are a must and cloth seemed to be the better option. Surely there was no other way. Or was there?

After the first six months of my daughter's life, we had gone through a substantial amount of nappy changes, buckets of laundry and some very nasty cases of nappy rash. For some reason it had never felt right to pack my baby's soft and sensitive little bottom into this airtight and often humid environment for hours on end. But still I strongly believed nappies had to be and there was no other way.

Then one evening I came across something that changed the whole story forever - Ingrid Bauer's web site on "Natural infant hygiene"- about a kind of infant potty training where it is possible to raise babies completely nappy-free, by tuning in with your infant to communicate with his or her need of elimination.

To be honest with you I was rather stunned, but also intrigued by the whole thing and I wanted to find out more. I soon realised that Infant Potty Training was something that about half the population on this planet do every day. IPT is and has been the norm for centuries in many parts of the non-western world. In western nations, we seem to have left the natural method of IPT behind for a number of reasons. For the last 50 years, we have been told that babies are unaware of, and have no control over, elimination; that they will self-train at the age of 2-3 years; and that we will somehow harm our babies if we potty train them too early. As a result, the concept of IPT is now unfamiliar, and seems unbelievable to many of us.


For thousands of years, throughout human existence, parents have cared for their babies hygienically, without nappies. Still today, in many cultures around the world, mothers know how to tune in, understand, and respond to their children's elimination needs to keep them clean and content. For these mothers, knowing when their baby "needs to go", and holding them over an appropriate place, is second nature.

We all recognise when our baby is hungry - they show us the signs and we notice, and there are naturally regular times of day at which they are likely to need to eat. Babies also have a need to eliminate, and are equally capable of communicating this need with us.


When the mother (or father) knows or feels that her baby needs to go, she removes the nappy or clothing and holds the baby in a secure, close position over an appropriate receptacle. The signs to watch for are:

TIMING AND ELIMINATION PATTERNS the mother learns when the baby usually goes and how this relates to other body functions, such as sleeping or nursing. For example, many babies pee as they awaking, and at regular intervals after nursing.

once they begin watching for it, many parents are amazed to see that their babies are actually signalling when they need to go. Though every baby is different, some signals include: fussing, squirming, grunting or vocal-ising, pausing and becoming still, waking from sleep etc.

Many mothers find they simply "know" when their babies need to relieve themselves. Especially once they've been using infant potty training for a while.

Infant potty training is a two-way communication. Around the world parents use a specific sound (such as psspsspss or Sssss) and a specific position to hold there baby when they eliminating. This serves as a kind of primary language that the baby comes to associate with the act, and a way for parents to offer an opportunity to go. However, it is always the baby who decides whether they need to. Sometimes the baby also begins to use this sound as a signal to the parent.
I guess it takes a certain mind-set to use and complete Infant Potty Training. It certainly took me a while to feel completely at ease with the new approach. I think it's a bit like breastfeeding. It takes a while to get used to but after that it's just the most natural thing in the world.

We still use nappies when we are out and about and during the night but instead of a bucket of cotton nappies to wash a day we are down to one a week. Nappy rash is a thing of the past for us. I feel the whole thing brought us even closer together as a family, through the increased awareness and communication. After experiencing this I would never ever go back to full time nappies again.
If you are curious and want to find out more you can either check out any of the websites listed below, or you can contact me via e-mail: micamu@whale-mail.com





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