When any new mum heads out the door with her newborn, her changing bag will likely be laden with baby essentials. Changing mat? Tick. Wipes? Tick. Boob or Bottle for feeding? Tick. And then there’s the nappies – whatever you do, don’t forget the nappies. Unless of course you’re potty training. Because while it is common practice to toilet train a child of toddler-age and above, some parents are choosing to go nappy-free a heck of a lot earlier.
Like Cindy Lever for example. The yoga instructor and freelance journalist refuses to put her two-week-old daughter, Chloe, in nappies and instead has been potty training the little one since birth.
For Cindy, from Queensland, Australia has adopted the practice of Elimination Communication (EC) where parents use timing, signals, cues and intuition to judge when their baby needs to go to the toilet.
“It is fun and addictive and I love that it allows for an even deeper connection with my baby,” she told parenting site Kidspot.
Nappyfreebaby.co.uk describes baby-led potty training (BLPT), or Elimination communication (EC), as a “respectful, natural way to care for a baby.”
The site says the practice can be done with or without nappies and is a method used by parents all around the world. “It is a skill that has been forgotten in the West since the advent of disposable nappies,” the site continues. “Parents who practise BLPT respond to a baby’s needs as and when they occur, rather than waiting until nappy change time.”
Cindy says that when it comes to not wanting to soil themselves babies are no different from adults and argues that using a nappy is something they get used to when their cues for needing to go to the toilet aren’t recognised by grown ups.
“A lot of people think it is too hard or don’t believe a baby can communicate it’s need to do wee or poo,” she writes in Kidspot.
“However, just as they can let us know when they are tired, hungry or when they have wind, if we slow down and tune in it is possible to read their toileting needs too.”
The new mum says she uses a mixture of common sense instinct and listening to her baby to try and pick up on the fact that she needs the toilet.
Cindy holds Chloe over the sink so they can see each other in the mirror and gives her vocal cues such as ‘wee, wee’ and ‘poo, poo’.
“Using these cues means that I can communicate with her as she gets older and she will know that it is okay to go to the toilet, rather than just eliminate anywhere,” she said.
Over time she believes it is possible to begin to understand your baby’s toilet routine, but admits that the method isn’t always fool-proof.
Cindy’s not alone in potty training her newborn, in fact ditching the nappies is quite the trend in parenting. Want proof? Look no further than parenting site Mumsnet whose forum is awash with posts from mums discussing the benefits of baby-led toilet training.
But not everyone is in favour of the practice and while parents practicing the method have been accused of ‘over-achieving’, more worryingly some experts have raised concerns that early potty training could encourage dangerous long-term toilet habits.
According to the Daily Mail a recent study published in the scientific journal Urology indicated some children develop a habit of ‘chronic holding’, in which they resist the urge to go to the toilet, leading to constipation, bladder problems and urinary tract infections. And those most prone to the condition are those who were potty trained early, particularly before the age of two.
Feilim Murphy, consultant paediatric urologist at the Portland Hospital in London, told the Daily Mail that EC could interfere with the natural maturing process of the body and brain.
“There is huge evidence to show that maturation of the bladder and brain comes between the ages of 24 to 36 months, and it is only at this time the skills develop which can allow children to control their bladder and bowels,” he explains.
“Constipation and holding is a real problem in our Western society — and who knows what problems early potty training can cause in this regard?”
But Cindy believes that the practice isn’t hugely different from toilet-training puppies.
“Initially it may feel like a bit of work on top of all the other demands of a newborn,” she says. “But as I remind my husband I’d rather be doing this than changing a two or three-year-old’s pooey nappy and the closeness that you develop with your baby is even more intense and rewarding.”
What do you think? Would you consider potty-training your newborn? Let us know @YahooStyleUK