Got something to say?
I wondered what that playgroup would think about this article. I'm glad you finally found camaraderie!
Letting your baby pee in a public sink? Unhygienic.I know, I know, "urine is sterile." Yeah, until it exits the body and picks up the naturally present bacteria from the skin it passes. Including e.coli. Which you then allow your baby to deposit into a public sink.The world does not revolve around you and your baby's elimination needs.
This article just confirms what I already thought about EC--it's about the parents, not the babies. If you only changed her dirty diapers when you felt like it, to the point that she got a diaper rash, obviously it's not about her needs. It's about yours, and your ego.
Wow, and here I was hoping not to get flamed right away! I guess that was a vain hope.Anyway, thanks, Melissa!I wish I could think up really witty, scathing replies, but I don't have any. And I don't really want to be scathing. Honestly, I still question my decision to EC. I'm not convinced I had the patience required to do it gracefully. And without contaminating the world with e.Coli (I tried to clean the sinks afterwards, by the way). I wish that there were ways to talk about parenting decisions like this without feeling the judgment of the world. Don't we all do some crazy things we think are for our children, but may really be because we're scared/obsessive/controlling/self-centered? And isn't the reason we mature as parents is because we come face-to-face with our own limitations?
You TRIED to clean the sinks?! EW. Man, that is some heavy-duty entitlement you've got going on there. Your kid gets to use the world as her toilet, and the rest of us shouldn't be mad at you because you TRIED to clean up after her.
The problem is that you are not using the sink for its intended purpose. what you do in your own home is fine, but when your parenting impinges on others, that's really taking it too far. Have you ever seen a preschooler swishing water around in a sink in a public restroom? You probably have. Think about what it would be like if that was your preschooler, swishing his hand around in pee that someone only tried to clean up. I'm sure that in the other countries that you cite, people aren't taking their kids into restaurant restrooms and having them urinate.
For most of your article, I thought, okay, not for me, way too much investment in the bladder movements of another person, but still, you were funny about it, and seemed to realize the absurdity of the situation.But then you ended with the pee in a public restaurant sink. Is this what ECers commonly do? Is it accepted practice to let your child foul restaurant sinks?I'm sorry, but that crosses a major, major boundary. That's just disgusting. And no, trying to clean it up does not make it okay. You're letting your child eliminate where other people, in good faith, wash their hands. That's beyond acceptable.
You mentioned talking about parenting without judgment. When you're letting your child use restaurant public sinks as her own personal toilet, you deserve it. I wouldn't judge you for doing EC in your own home. But using the world as your own personal toilet? The world the rest of us have to live in as well? That's some pretty remarkable entitlement you've got going there, and you deserve to be called on it.
Do you guys let your kids lick the sinks in a public restroom or something? A lot of soap and hot water running from the tap, a chaser of hand sanitizer, and they'll be fine. I think you are missing the point...I am much more interested in Heather's comment:"Don't we all do some crazy things we think are for our children, but may really be because we're scared/obsessive/controlling/self-centered? And isn't the reason we mature as parents is because we come face-to-face with our own limitations?"That is really vulnerable and authentic and TRUE! At least in my life. I try my best for my kids, but often is is about me - how can I be the best mom? I don't always know what I am doing - but I know I am a completely different person than I was before kids. Ultimately, that is what they need - for me to be content and confident in my relationships with them and making decisions about what they need from a place of peace. And I get there by learning that I don't have it all together.I didn't EC, but I am glad Heather does. I love her authenticity and heart for the earth and for Lucy. Her decision to do EC (however it is best for her family) sounds like it has been good for her and that is great.
A lot of soap and hot water running from the tap, a chaser of hand sanitizer, and they'll be fine.Again with the entitlement. How about nobody pees or poops in public sinks, and then we'll be fine.
Again with the missing the point.I really don't know how a suggestion (not from Heather, mind you) about washing well is interpreted as entitlement. But please don't explain - somehow I think it will not be constructive.Sigh.
I really don't know how a suggestion (not from Heather, mind you) about washing well is interpreted as entitlement.Because sanitizing after washing is kind of ridiculous and wouldn't be necessary if people would keep their urine and feces in the toilet.
I especially love the EC rhetoric about how EC is like paying with cash instead of credit. I view it more like "you lived a year spending half your life holding a naked baby over the sink and cleaning up her misses, and I spent a week doing the same when my kid was old enough to figure it out." So I guess the metaphor holds up, as long as you realize that it's like paying out $10,000 in cash or putting $10 on credit!Here's the other thing...I don't know about the author, but I've visited countries where kids don't typically wear diapers, and unsurprisingly, THEY STINK. In the literal sense of the world. Turns out that there actually is an upside to people not eliminating willy-nilly anywhere and anytime they feel like it. If you don't want to be judged as, at worst, a public health threat, and at best, ridiculous, well, try not doing something that is both a public health threat and ridiculous.
Do you guys let your kids lick the sinks in a public restroom or something? A lot of soap and hot water running from the tap, a chaser of hand sanitizer, and they'll be fine. I think you are missing the point...I resent that because you feel you're entitled to let your child use public sinks for elimination, I am apparently supposed to carry around an arsenal of disinfectant for my own child. It's so inconsiderate of others, it's breathtaking, and yes, those of you who do it deserve all the judgment you get.
Hey, I think Heather's essay is about so much more than the last scene. (Also, as my own little public service announcement? Public restrooms: Not as pristine as their reputation.)Anon, Heather, everyone else: what's interesting to me is the line between what some people call entitlement and some would say is just part of parenting. I know E.C. is not something most mothers would try--but not that long ago (and actually today, in some places), breastfeeding sparked that same sort of "ew" reaction. Has anyone else tried E.C.? Or know anyone who has? I'd love to hear what your experiences were like, if, like Heather, you reached a point when it relied a whole lot on the kiddo cooperating.
But I don't do EC...as stated in the comment you quoted! (this is not the author, but the hand washing advocate...) And how do you know what else has gone on in that bathroom? Don't you always wash your hands after being in a public place? I am so confused about what is so shocking about saying that we should wash our hands in a public restroom. As far as my parenting (non EC) "impinging on others" - I guess i will have to whisper to my kids when I am out in public, and make sure i stay out of your line of sight. Of course parenting has an effect on others, unless you are a hermit!!This is why I prefer to have community in person - I don't know anyone who would actually have this conversation...Sorry Heather, I was trying to say that I liked some of your points in the essay and comments even though I don't do EC. But then I got attacked too...
Or, come to think of it, an unrelated situation where it just wasn't going to improve without your child working with you.
"Don't you always wash your hands after being in a public place? I am so confused about what is so shocking about saying that we should wash our hands in a public restroom."Washing your hands after peeing, yes, everyone should do this. Duh. Having to then sanitize them because someone might have let their child take a piss or a shit in the sink? Not reasonable.
"As far as my parenting (non EC) "impinging on others" - I guess i will have to whisper to my kids when I am out in public, and make sure i stay out of your line of sight. Of course parenting has an effect on others, unless you are a hermit!!"There is a difference between spreading your fecal germs on public restroom surfaces and making noise in a public place. Of course restrooms aren't the cleanest places in the world. Doesn't mean you have the right to use the sink as a toilet.Frankly, I don't get the reason for using the sink! The article says that a "big, noisy toilet" is scary for a baby. Well, you're not gonna flush it with the baby on it, are you?
If you people think EC babies are the only ones who piss, shit, and vomit in public bathrooms, including and especially all over the sinks, you are sadly, sadly naive. A public restroom is no place to get clean, that's for sure.
Washing your hands after peeing, yes, everyone should do this. Duh. Having to then sanitize them because someone might have let their child take a piss or a shit in the sink? Not reasonable.Exactly. I don't expect restaurant washrooms to be pristine, and I always wash with hot water and soap after using one.But I don't expect that I need to carry around disinfectant because people are letting their children piss and poop in a restaurant bathroom sink. That's absolutely disgusting, and yes, totally selfish and entitled.
If you people think EC babies are the only ones who piss, shit, and vomit in public bathrooms, including and especially all over the sinks, you are sadly, sadly naive.Obviously I know this. But I think adults who do this are really disgusting and selfish too.Silly me, thinking that restaurant sinks are properly used for washing, not pissing and pooping. What a terrific lesson to teach a kid.
To be fair here, ladies and gents: diapers are dirty too, as dirty if not dirtier than a stream of baby piss. You've got a loaded one in a restroom, you're nearly as germy as the naked baby butt, no matter how carefully you try to handle that bomb. Here's what intrigued me: I'm a fairly rabid environmentalist. If I knew of this movement when my kids were tiny, I might have been motivated to give it a try, as labor-intensive as it does sound to me, just to keep those thousands and thousands of diapers out of the landfills or the washing machines. (For the record: I had one cloth-diaper baby but just couldn't do it for number 2 for more than a few months). I wonder, with the way the world is going, if we all won't be trying EC a generation from now...
To be fair here, ladies and gents: diapers are dirty too, as dirty if not dirtier than a stream of baby piss. You've got a loaded one in a restroom, you're nearly as germy as the naked baby butt, no matter how carefully you try to handle that bomb.No. This is wrong. When I was in a restaurant and my son had a poopy diaper, I always had my own wipes, disinfectant, changing pad, and bag for the diaper. I went to the bathroom, found a clean corner away from the sinks, laid down the pad, changed him, and immediately transferred all dirty wipes and diaper to the bag, which I then sealed. After that, before I touched the sink to use the soap, I disinfected my hands and the changing pad. I considered that common courtesy. Guess I was wrong about the "common" part.
Fabulous point, Tracy. And I think Heather's point in the essay about loving convenience is also part of this larger environmental question. Is there such a things as compostable diapers? There. There's your million dollar idea right here, folks.
If you people think EC babies are the only ones who piss, shit, and vomit in public bathrooms, including and especially all over the sinks, you are sadly, sadly naive.Are you honestly saying that you are A-OK with the adults who do these things? Why then should we be ok with an adult doing it via their child?I think that some of the posters here are conflating things. I don't think that the people who are responding negatively necessarily CARE about EC one way or the other. Absolutely, there were some interesting points in the article. Absolutely, if you want to spend the time to do this, more power to you.Just don't use MY sink to do it in. THAT'S what people are finding disgusting, not the concept of EC, or for that matter that public sinks are not completely hygienic and clean. You can do whatever you want in your home, or in the homes of your friends who are ok with you doing it.But, it is incredibly rude to do this in someone else's sink without their express permission. Period. I find it hard to believe that the restaurant owner was asked permission in this instant, OR that a restaurant owner would give permission even if asked.I know that I would NOT give permission for someone to do this in my home bathroom sinks, even though I do scrub the sinks out thoroughly on a regular basis, which sounds a bit more thorough than "trying" to clean the public sink. I would be royally pissed if a friend of mine did so without asking me, and that person would probably never be invited into my home again.
Some places do compost diapers. It's a matter of political will, not current technology.
There are compostable diapers (actually liners that go in a washable cover), or at least their makers claim they are. BabyGs, made by some folks in Australia, available in the US at Whole Foods and similar stores.What people do in their homes is mostly their business, but I would not care to spend much of my child's early years holding him or her over a sink, even if I didn't have other obligations. But if the kid is going to go without diapers, he or she has to do it the way everyone else does, by going in the toilet. Peeing or pooping in a public sink is nasty, I don't care if you "try" to clean it up afterward. I assume public restrooms are not paragons of cleanliness, but unless I'm in a bus station in a bad area of town, I'm also assuming no one has shat in the sink, and I don't think that's an unreasonable standard. Cultural mores and all.
I just think it's ridiculous to get all vicious on a woman over EC in public restrooms when it's so clearly not even on the scale as far as "things that make public bathrooms a cesspool." Seems like pointless mommy war bickering for the sake of bickering. Total overreaction. Am I thrilled that people's bodily fluids are everywhere in bathrooms? No, but there's also no point in getting self-righteously high and mighty about it either. It's the nature of a bathroom.Baby pee is one of the cleaner things you'll find in a bathroom sink. Regular adult wiping plus virtuous handwashing means the handles to the sink are already coated in fecal bacteria.
I just think it's ridiculous to get all vicious on a woman over EC in public restrooms when it's so clearly not even on the scale as far as "things that make public bathrooms a cesspool."We clearly go to different restaurants. And given what I've learned here today, thank God.
It's like littering. Just because the sidewalk has trash on it doesn't mean it's okay for you to litter. "Oh, it's already dirty- so it doesn't matter!"Earlier, Heather said "Don't we all do some crazy things we think are for our children, but may really be because we're scared/obsessive/controlling/self-centered? And isn't the reason we mature as parents is because we come face-to-face with our own limitations?"Ok, I'll buy that. So did you eventually realize that it's self-centered to let your baby piss in public sinks?
What, you go to restaurants where people don't use the bathroom, or just ones where they don't wash their hands in the sink afterwards?
Just because a baby pooping in the sink is but a small factor in what might make a bathroom dirty doesn't mean it's okay. That's like me saying it's okay for me to litter here, because my candy wrapper is but a small bit of trash compared to all the litter in the city. It's self-centered and self-justifying.
Very cool that there's compostable diapers. It's been a while since we've been in the market for them.
I appreciate the comments that focused on the larger issue at hand, not a small scene at the end of an otherwise enlightening, interesting, and well-written article. I am not an EC mom, but I don't think that it's fair to say that EC moms are self-centered just because they used a sink for baby's pee. I will grant that it's not a great practice. However, Heather identified a need of her daughter's and sought a way to meet it. I would have done the same. It's easy to judge her actions until you have been in her situation. Yes, it may seem selfish to you to use the sink as a toilet, but as a mom, Heather was forced to choose between her daughter and someone else's comfort. She chose her daughter. Kudos to you, Heather. I'm glad to know that your baby has a mother who is willing to accept the judgement of others for the sake of caring for her child.I can hear the scathing responses being typed already, but I only ask that you take a breath first. The article shows Heather negotiating her way through EC, and discovering that it is neither simple, easy, nor black and white. Such is parenting, folks. Despite all our best intentions, the gray just keeps on coming. To respond with such hardline opinions seems to contradict the very essence of the article.Okay, flame away.
"forced to choose between her daughter and someone else's comfort."Uh, no one was forcing her except herself.I fail to see what is so noisy and scary about a toilet. A toilet is basically the same as sink, except that we don't touch the bowl because it's nasty -- because of exactly the same germs you are trying to put in a sink. Don't flush it with the kid atop or near it, and it seems like you'd be golden -- and no need to pee in restaurant sinks.It would not be okay if an adult was doing it, and it is not okay if a baby is doing it. EW.
I appreciate the comments that focused on the larger issue at hand, not a small scene at the end of an otherwise enlightening, interesting, and well-written article. The problem is that "small scene" affects the entire article. I'm not disputing the article is well-written. There's no doubt that it is. But that final scene changes the entire story, because it moves what had been a personal, at-home effort into something that the public is expected to participate in and support. That's a huge change, and it's not fair to dismiss criticisms of that scene as simply ignoring the rest of the article. Those commenters who are appalled by what she did are taking that scene in the context of the entire article, and to say otherwise is dismissive of what they've been saying.However, Heather identified a need of her daughter's and sought a way to meet it. I would have done the same. I don't think it's a good thing to teach our children to place their needs above all others all the time in the community with which they interact. That endless focus on self-benefit has had very bad consequences for us as a society.In my opinion, part of teaching children respect for the community around them is teaching them respect for community public health norms. Among them is the expectation that the sinks of nice restaurants have not been used as toilets. It's easy to judge her actions until you have been in her situation. Yes, it may seem selfish to you to use the sink as a toilet, but as a mom, Heather was forced to choose between her daughter and someone else's comfort. She chose her daughter. Kudos to you, Heather. I'm glad to know that your baby has a mother who is willing to accept the judgement of others for the sake of caring for her child.She's not just willing to accept the judgment of others in the name of caring for her child. She's expecting the rest of the community to share in the admittedly maverick choices she made. That's a huge difference.Look, none of the people commenting here care much if somebody does EC at home. If that meets a baby's needs, that's great. But when EC moves from the home into the sinks of what sound like very nice restaurants, that brings all of us into the experiment.
"comfort" does not equal "public health"Especially when you're affecting the health of people who may unwittingly--how silly of them--assume the sink has not been used for urination or defication. Waste products are uniquely unhygenic, with all sorts of bacteria that can wreck havoc on our systems. This is why we don't use compost with human or animal waste on a vegetable garden; why public sanitation is such a great thing, and why it is unwise to relieve oneself in the same place where one washes.
good god, i give the woman credit just for having the patience to try EC. I couldn't do it. A week of potty-training is enough to do me in. For all you public-places germophobes - well, for all of you - anywhere there are other people who you cannot control, there are going to be disgusting things to think about. (I even worry sometimes in other people's houses...) For example, I used to write housekeeping manuals for major hotel chains and let me tell you, do NOT lie down on the bedspreads or blankets. And don't walk around the room barefoot. Oh, and don't pee in the sink...
Comparing EC, with babies peeing in restaurant sinks, to breastfeeding in a restaurant is stunningly ridiculous. My breastfeeding my baby doesn't spread any of either of our bodily fluids anyplace any third party will need to come in contact with them.I've always thought the ECers had too much time on their hands but it wasn't my concern how they spent their time. I've always been careful about trying to keep my preschooler from touching the sink at all, with his hands or forearms, and now I know I'm not as insane as I thought I was.If the pee is so sterile and so okay to be in the sink, why is it not okay to be in your baby's diaper?
If the pee is so sterile and so okay to be in the sink, why is it not okay to be in your baby's diaper?Because in the diaper it irritates the baby's skin and gives her diaper rash?I admit that when I read the sink-peeing part, my first thought was, "Woah, what if someone walked into the bathroom right now? That might not seem like such a beautiful moment." Personally, I was more disturbed by the part where her baby peed on the wall at the apartment complex. But--I don't know, when it comes to germs and disease, I'm a head-in-the-sand kind of gal and I just got over it really quickly. Also, as the parent of a 7-year-old with elimination problems, let's just say that mind-over-matter has become one of my strengths.Except for those few ew-inducing moments when Lucy was pooping in sinks, I really enjoyed this essay. I have never tried (nor would I ever dream of trying) EC, but I have 4 kids, 3 of whom have had moderate-to-severe toileting issues (physical and psychological) and 1 of whom is a baby (i.e. of an age when it's normal to still be in diapers), and I frequently feel as though my life revolves around the management of their waste products. So I am fascinated by people who foist this obsession upon themselves. I liked that Heather made it work for both her and Lucy when she stopped obsessing about it and started going with the flow, so to speak. (Did I actually say that? Yes, I did.) I like stories where parenting gets easier when we stop trying to do it perfectly. It's Chicken Soup for My Soul.Also, I was glad to learn that she got a positive response from others in the EC playgroup. I think we put so much pressure on ourselves to be evangelists for certain parenting choices--breastfeeding, cloth diapers, EC, homemade baby food, whatever--that we are afraid to admit that we struggle, too. We think that if we admit to struggling, others will take it as proof that our choice must be bad, or that we must be doing something wrong. But when we don't admit to struggling, we isolate ourselves *and* we isolate others who are also struggling but assume they're alone. Sometimes all it takes to stick with something difficult is knowing that you're not alone, that you're not necessarily doing it wrong, that some things are just hard.
As a mother who does not and is not planning to practice EC, I initially found Heather's article fascinating - and I respected her for what she has worked hard to accomplish. Unfortunately when I reached the end, the public restroom sink thing ruined it all for me. Of course public restrooms aren't sterile environments, and the world is a dirty place- but part of living together as a civilized group is adhering to a semblance of a social contract. If all the rules fly out the window and we feel entitled to make our own (and teach our kids do do so as well), what can we count on? The understanding is that the place we wash our hands, the sink, would not be where anyone of any age has relieved themselves. Because the expected function of a sink is a place to get clean, I feel those practicing EC should be considerate and respect all of us who don't know you have been treating our sinks as toilets.
Is anyone else sort of saddened by this whole discussion? I’m one of the editors of Brain, Child and I have to say the tone here is really bugging me. I don’t know what’s going on with the person I’ve started to think of as Angry Anonymous. But I can’t believe that anyone reads Brain, Child to quietly judge and, now, semi-publicly berate other mothers.I’m all for passionate debate and diversity of opinion, but let’s keep it respectful. I’m new-ish to online discussions, too, but if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it here. (And if you would actually call me “stunningly ridiculous” to my face, I have a book on manners to recommend.)I’m pretty well done with the sink discussion. But I was thinking about what Mad said, and about which parenting practices are necessary timesucks and which aren’t. For me, E.C. wouldn’t have seemed to be necessary to try, but potty training, at some point, has to be. Or, another example: I actually followed the What to Expect Best Odds Diet, which I most certainly wouldn’t do now. I guess what I’m wondering about is what sort of parenting pressures we impose on ourselves, whether it’s choking down wheat germ with yogurt or potty training by age 2 or whatever.
I don't know that I would say that I'm saddened. I expect Brain, Child readers to be very, very smart, and passionate about their choices. I'd hate to think of us as magazine-reading milquetoasts.I also think it's both unfair and, yes, disrespectful to shut down people who don't agree with the practices in the article as "Mommy Warriors." (Which, Jennifer, you did not do explicitly, but which I sense from your post, and which other people did do explicitly in the posts above.) Some of what is frequently and dismissively called the Mommy Wars is legitimate disagreement. In my opinion, asking women to always be nice, to just be "supportive," yes, to always be "respectful" is a way of shutting down women's voices. I’m all for passionate debate and diversity of opinion, but let’s keep it respectful. I’m new-ish to online discussions, too, but if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it here.Respect, though, doesn't mean what it appears to me what you're saying here, which seems to be largely blind agreement. Several posters have said that they were interested in the article until they were blindsided by the bit at the end. Therefore, the story at the end is a key part of the article, and it changes all of it. If passionately talking about the ending is dismissed as "flame," or "mommy wars," then all we're left with is blind support. I can't imagine that's what Brain, Child meant when it engaged in the idea of online discussion. I for one would find that utterly uninteresting.I also don't think the analogy to "saying it to somebody's face" a reasonable standard or goal. The fact is, if I was in a nice restaurant, and I encountered somebody letting their child poop and pee in the sink, I'd probably slip out and say something to the management. I wouldn't confront the person, because I'd frankly be afraid the person was unhinged. There would be no discussion at all. Online discussions allow people to hash things out that they wouldn't do in person, and I am glad for that. People do get nasty online, but at the same time, online discussion permits a healthy dialogue that in my opinion is often missing from in-person discussions. In-person discussions frequently happen such that only the loudest, the most confident, the fastest talkers, or the most argumentative can make their points. I'm glad online discussion isn't like that. There is a multiplicity of voices in online discussion which are shut out of real world discussion. I wouldn't want to see shutting those voices down as an idealized goal -- and that doesn't strike me as very Brain, Child.
Please don't tell me that even at Brain, Child, we're all supposed to play nicey-nice and not say what we're really thinking? This isn't a support group, is it? I'd thought it was a place for honest discussion. Assuming it is, I'll be honest: I rolled my eyes through this entire article. As other have mentioned, the entitlement is flowing freely and I find almost nothing more annoying.
I really didn't sense the free-flowing entitlement here. From the beginning I appreciated her candour about her insecurities and struggles, and that it wasn't a polemic about EC or intended to convert anyone. It really wasn't about EC so much as it was about making parental decisions and second-guessing them and wondering what the heck you're doing (or trying to do).I think there are very few necessary timesucks. There are some general necessities. You have to toilet-train (eventually); you have to feed your child; you have to let them sleep; you have to teach them to get along with others. Most of the particulars, though, are just preferences, and it's a matter of deciding what you value and how much you value it and what trade-offs you're willing to make, i.e. what you're willing to sacrifice for the sake of an ideal.I think we do pressure ourselves into all-or-nothing propositions, and when things get hard, we're tempted to quit altogether because we feel like we've failed. But whether it's breastfeeding or caregiving or toilet-teaching or exercise or whatever, there is nearly always a middle way. We don't have to be purists in order to reap the benefits, and we don't have to be poster children for whatever ideal we're trying to live up to.
I'd call peeing on someone else's property (on the outside wall of an apartment building not belonging to her) a sense of entitlement. My husband and I own an apartment building and I can assure you that someone else had to clean up the mess left behind. ("Just" pee can and does leave a mess.) Did the baby pee in the sink at the doctor's office, too?
Hey, excellent point, Madhousewife. Most of my crazy timesucks (like, uh, keeping a written record of every diaper's contents) happened in Caleb's infancy. I'm assuming that, for people with more than one kid, they don't have to repeat the insanity.P.S. Your blog is a hoot!
I've been thinking about this a lot since reading Jennifer's request above, and I think what bothers me the most is that those of us who were really bothered by Heather's behavior in the article are asked (demanded?) to "be respectful" -- but Heather didn't show any respect for the people around her by her own account. In thinking about this entire discussion, I think the post that bothers me most is Jennifer's -- because it's asking for one-directional respect. In other words, respect goes to the person who already has a tremendously privileged position in our society (educated, financially well off enough to not work, not physically overworked enough to be able to do EC, able to write and reach an audience, etc.) -- but not the rest of us.I worked as a maid for years before I had luck that none of my peers had. I was tremendously lucky to win a scholarship to a good school and therefore vault into a different economic class. But that was just me. Most of my old friends are still maids, still housekeepers, still stuck. They have no such privilege, and I really, really bristle on both their behalf and mine at the idea that they can't even voice their opinions without violating the nebulous "respect" rules -- rules which seem to only benefit those already at the top of society. Is Brain, Child only to be for the privileged? I've cleaned up a lot of people's elimination over the years. What somebody posted above about the peeing on the wall is right: somebody had to clean that up. Somebody, somebody who used to be me, had to scrub that wall, wipe it down. Somebody who used to be me has to scrub those restaurant sinks. That's what bothers me the most: the fact that Heather doesn't even give any lip service in her article to those of us who have to -- are forced to -- clean up after her messes. And then, when those of us who did that who are lucky enough to have access to voice our feelings about that do voice our feelings, we're told we're "disrespectful" or that our tone is "saddening." Or, most dismissively, that we're just engaging in the Mommy Wars.That's not right, and up until now it hasn't seemed very Brain, Child. But now I'm not so sure.(I posted the long response to Jennifer above, but I'm going to give myself a nickname for ease of responses.)
I posted the comment about finding the correlation of breastfeeding in restaurants and peeing in restaurant sinks ridiculous. I have given myself an nickname so that Jennifer doesn't conflate my comments with those of others and make me into some general "Angry Anonymous." I'm not angry -- I'm disgusted. And I'm even more disgusted that Jennifer thinks that we should all sit on our hands and not say something. I can't tell you how happy I was when I first found Brain, Child at the checkout at Whole Foods. Not so crunchy and far out as Mothering, and from my home state of Virginia, no less. Now I'm wondering if it really is a magazine for people like me, people who speak up when we disagree with something.To the person who responded to my comment by using the diaper rash card: if you change diapers promptly, you'd have less of a diaper rash problem. I've had two children and remarkably few instances of diaper rash. Yes, there are troubling environmental impacts of both cloth and disposable diapers, but having your baby pee in sinks that other people use to wash their hands (and "trying" to clean them") is not the answer.I found The Maid's comment the most resonant, and sad to say, one that in my position of privilege I hadn't considered at all.
P.S. Everything I've said here, I'd happily say to your face. I don't think I've been impolite. And if I encountered a mom letting her baby pee in the sink, you'd bet I'd say something like "Excuse, me, but what on earth are you doing? I do hope you're planning on cleaning that up." I am, however, that way.
Hey, The Maid and Breastfeeding Mom--these last responses are exactly the sort of ones I was hoping for. I think it makes a better dialogue--for all of us--to talk about WHY an essay (a passage, a scene...) bugs you than to just state that it does. Ironically, there's a whole 'nother essay up about what purpose online parenting communities serve. Check it out:http://www.brainchildmag.com/essays/winter2008_eis.asp
The Maid makes a good point. I mean, holding my baby's bum over a restaurant sink isn't a choice I would make, but I was more bothered by the wall-peeing because a wall doesn't have running water coming out of it. And apparently I'm the gal who played the "diaper rash card," in which case I should here divulge that I used diapers on all four of my kids, disposable ones even (lots and lots and lots of disposable diapers), and I changed them frequently (hence the lots and lots), but even a nasty case of diaper rash wouldn't have inspired me to start using sinks instead of diapers. (And yes, I do feel entitled to all that landfill space I'm using. And if you want to talk about unhygienic, I currently have two in diapers and a third who is out of diapers but still not using the toilet for all its intended purposes, so stay far, far away from my trash can and my laundry room.)I must have missed the point of your (Breastfeeding Mom's?) rhetorical question because upon rereading my response doesn't seem to make much sense. I think I was hung up on the fact that people were up in arms about the sink-peeing when no one had said a word about the wall-peeing. So maybe...working on the assumption that the pee is staying put in the sink rather than being washed down, that is more analogous to leaving a wet diaper on a baby...but as I said earlier, I was hung up on the whole running-water variable. I couldn't quite believe that people were really right there with the author up until she let her baby pee in a sink, as though peeing against a wall was no big deal. I spent many years in apartments in crunchy-granola communities where a variety of parenting styles were represented, and it would not surprise me to learn that a percentage of my neighbors were allowing their youngsters to pee on my apartment's outside wall. That would have been upsetting, even for me. But the thing is, the article was about the pressure she was placing on herself to do EC perfectly, not how put-upon she felt by society, how misunderstood and unaccommodated she was. If that had been the tone, I would agree that she had an entitlement mentality. As distasteful as I found the wall-peeing, I thought that in that scene she came off as relatively abashed and had a sense of humor about herself. I suppose it would have been nicer if she'd inserted more explanatory or apologetic footnotes for her flouting of Western norms, but that probably would have hurt the flow of the narrative. It's a shame that the sink issue is what people immediately jumped on (and piled on) because frankly, I am curious about this aspect of the article as well, but I think there might be a more civil way to discuss it without Silencing Women's Voices. I always wondered what diaper-free parents did about going out in public. I assumed they carried around miniature chamber pots, but apparently not? Has Heather ever had another mom say, "Please don't let your baby poop in my sink"? I'm as curious as the next person. I just think it's a shame that the real theme of the article has been lost in the sink issue.
Some people including the editor here seem to think that making any judgment anytime is "bad." But living and letting live ends when someone else's actions impinge on one's safety or hygiene. We need to watch against judging others for making different choices that don't affect us. But we are completely justified in judging someone whose behavior could affect our own health and safety. If my neighbor is blasting his music at 3:00 am I don't lecture myself on "not being judgmental." I judge him as being inconsiderate and I ask him to stop. It is disgusting to use the sink for elimination, period. No justification is possible, even or especially the one that goes, "She's just doing what's best for her daughter." Bullshit. I am posting this anonymously, but this is my first time posting.
Help me out here...why is there such an uproar about an infant urinating next to a stucco wall as opposed to a large dog?(For the record, I didn't do EC with either of my girls.)
Why is the wall worse than the sink, for me? Because I have no illusions about the cleanliness of exterior walls. That's not exactly good citizenship either, but depending on the location of the wall, dogs/winos/frat boys have probably peed on it before. The sink in a women's restroom, however, is different -- I'd like to believe that while it might not be that clean, at least no one is using it as a toilet!I'm sorry to hear of babies plagued by diaper rash, despite frequent changes. I don't know if we were lucky or what.
Oops, that should have been "Why ISN'T the wall worse..." I need to get better at this commenting thing.I have to admit, I though that EC parents didn't get out much, so it never really crossed my mind how they handled the public aspect. That is one reason it seemed like way too much work for me.
The restaurant sink bothered me more because it was a confirmation for me that the wall incident -- which I did notice when reading -- was not just an isolated, "oh crap, I screwed up, what am I going to do" moment. All of us parents obviously have moments like that, and from the context earlier in the article, that's what appeared to happen to Heather. I think most of the readers find planning accidents forgivable, and that's why they didn't focus on it.But then the restaurant-sink-elimination incident turned what was an isolated and forgivably humorous accident earlier in the article into a regular practice, a regular practice that a lot of reasonable people find very, very inconsiderate. When I read the sink-elimination part, I realized that the wall-elimination had not been an accident, that Heather apparently makes it a regular practice to have her child eliminate where other people have to clean up that mess. That's what makes the restaurant incident worse. (As for the question about the difference of a dog peeing on the wall, I think it should probably be obvious that owners who let their dogs pee all over other people's walls are inconsiderate as well, because somebody has to clean that up, too. As somebody said above, just because other people litter doesn't mean it's right.)Hey, The Maid and Breastfeeding Mom--these last responses are exactly the sort of ones I was hoping for. I think it makes a better dialogue--for all of us--to talk about WHY an essay (a passage, a scene...) bugs you than to just state that it does.I'm glad you found it thoughtful, but I would not have reached that point unless I'd read the posts above mine, the ones you'd dismissed as not "respectful." That's what really bothered me about your chastisement -- it seemed designed to limit discussion on this article to those who already hold all the privilege in this situation. It can take awhile to hash out why an article causes a strong reaction. I dislike seeing the rhetoric of "respect" used where the true meaning is "shut down" -- especially where what people were objecting to is a lack of respect on the author's part.
I think it makes a better dialogue--for all of us--to talk about WHY an essay (a passage, a scene...) bugs you than to just state that it does.Jennifer, I have to be honest with you here - I've been slightly offended by both of your posts. The first, for the reasons already discussed by others: disagreeing with someone is not being disrespectful. NONE of the responses given have any hint of "Mommy Wars" - people are disgusted at an unhygienic practise, they are not making value judgments about whether WOH or SAH is more valuable.The second post, because lots of people have been talking about WHY this particular incident bothers them - because it shows a lack of concern about the other people using that sink, because the practise is unhygienic, because it's rude and presumptive to use a sink you don't own for purposes other than the ones for which it is intended.These are all reasons WHY this incident bothered people - they appparently aren't adequate reasons to you, though, and your lack of recognition that people have been talking about very specific objections to a very specific behavior is disrepectful to them.
I don’t mean to offend. Here’s what I was seeing: Almost right from the start, the comments became uncivil, referring to the writer’s ego, her sense of entitlement, her selfishness, and on and on. It wasn’t the content of the disagreement that bothered me, but the tone. And I also don’t get the logic that because the writer wrote about something she did that readers consider rude, it’s okay to say rude things to her.I can’t emphasize this enough: I’m not trying to silence anyone. But, to my mind, there’s a huge difference between saying, “I couldn’t do E.C. because I’m aware that someone—like my friends who work as maids--has to clean it up” and saying, “I can’t believe how self-entitled you are.” I feel some responsibility in making sure that everyone feels comfortable commenting here. I love civil, respectful disagreement. But when it gets to a level of pouncing others (for example, “you TRIED to clean it up!”), the diversity of opinion goes out the window. Heather’s probably not coming back, so we won’t get to hear what else she has to say. I’d be very surprised if someone identified herself as an E.C. mother or father felt comfortable sharing her/his experience with the practice. So what are we left with? The majority opinion that pee in the restaurant sink is gross. You’re more than definitely entitled to that opinion, but it just doesn’t make for a great discussion. Know what I mean?
Jennifer, "tone" is something that is very hard to police. To me, "That's pretty entitled of you!" is not uncivil - it's not fake nice, but it's calling behavior like it is. "Jeez, ya entitled b@$&h!!" is uncivil and rude discourse.I know that I have made no comments on this board that I wouldn't have said to someone's face, and I'm a pretty conflict-free sort of person. I wouldn't expect it to be a completely pleasant conversation, but I think that it would end civilly.I don't see how pointing out that the author's efforts to take care of the situation was unacceptable is "pouncing", either. The author wrote what she wrote, and using those words within the context of a response seems to be a reasonable thing to do - why is that uncivil? Emphasizing what was more alarming about the statement is "pouncing"?And, you know, "You expect other people to take care of your messes" is pretty much the definition of "entitled". I don't see any difference in the two statements.Many, many posters have said they don't have a problem with EC itself. I would love for someone to write in saying that they practice EC, and wouldn't dream of letting their child use a public sink as a toilet, and how they handle being out in public with their baby.
I would love for someone to write in saying that they practice EC, and wouldn't dream of letting their child use a public sink as a toilet, and how they handle being out in public with their baby.Yes, this would be interesting, and add to the discussion. It would also do a great service to EC in general.I’d be very surprised if someone identified herself as an E.C. mother or father felt comfortable sharing her/his experience with the practice.Perhaps they might feel hesitant, if they too use public sinks as toilets. But I maintain that it's not unreasonable to be pretty horrified by that practice, and I don't feel it's necessary for the majority of the population who has embraced this general understanding of public health to tamp down their feelings about it. If someone wants to violate a well-understood tenet of bathroom etiquette, then they should be able to justify themselves on an annonymous (more or less) board.
Jennifer, I'll try to respond in more detail later when I have more time to write carefully, but as a quick off the cuff reaction to what you wrote, I honestly feel like you're not really listening to what the posters here are saying, and I find that troubling given your de facto role as host.As you said, you want to make sure everybody feels comfortable commenting here. As a preliminary statement, I don't think that goal is possible without reducing the discussion to something so bland as to be worthless. There's always going to be somebody who is uncomfortable. That's a hallmark of challenging and thought-provoking discussion. But more importantly, I think as an editor who is hosting this discussion, you have a greater responsibility to listen carefully to what people are saying. Many people have said here, over and over again, that the last part about the sink changed their entire perception of the article, ECing, and the author. That sentiment has been repeated several times. But you insist on marginalizing that sentiment as this:The majority opinion that pee in the restaurant sink is gross. You’re more than definitely entitled to that opinion, but it just doesn’t make for a great discussion.That's not listening to what people are saying. That's marginalizing a wide range of posts. As has been said repeatedly, people strongly reacted to the restaurant sink incident because of what it represented and how it changed the rest of the article. I'm pretty bothered by your reaction here. It does not seem in line with the kind of thought-provoking discussion I expect from Brain, Child. I'll think about it some more to see if I can write more cogently about it.
"The world does not revolve around you and your baby's elimination needs.You TRIED to clean the sinks?! EW. Man, that is some heavy-duty entitlement you've got going on there. Your kid gets to use the world as her toilet, and the rest of us shouldn't be mad at you because you TRIED to clean up after her.If you don't want to be judged as, at worst, a public health threat, and at best, ridiculous, well, try not doing something that is both a public health threat and ridiculous.It's so inconsiderate of others, it's breathtaking, and yes, those of you who do it deserve all the judgment you get."I think these posts are the ones that have a tone that is troubling (all from anonymous users, hmmm). And let's not pretend that there is no such thing as sarcasm or other "nonverbal" communication strategies on line - these quotes are clearly denigrating to others. I don't have much patience for rudeness disguising itself as intellectualism. I will say though that the later comments give me more hope - the discussion really seems more civil later on and that is encouraging. i would not be interested in a thoughful magazine if the culture it fostered was so inconsiderate as to varying opinions - both ways. So, you think the author made a mistake - tell her so politely and don't assume you know anything else about her world view and character.
And yet, it was those posts that helped me identify what, precisely, really bothered me about the article. I don't have much patience for rudeness disguising itself as intellectualism.I have no patience for bland, tiresome "you go, girls" masquerading as thought-provoking discussion. The latter is a far worse blow to public discourse.In my opinion, nobody here has been rude. Pointed, yes. Opinionated, yes. But not rude. Why do women equate hard-hitting commentary with rudeness? Why do we want to diminish our public voices, make sure everybody "feels comfortable" at the expense of dialogue?
Phew! I had to start skimming all of your comments to get the bottom of the list. No offense. So here goes... I DO practice EC with my 9 month old daughter. EC is NOT that hard, it's only as hard as you make it to be. But it's not for everyone. It can be fun and rewarding, and for the longest time my daughter was very pleased with herself when she went in her pot and not her pants. She's aware of her elimination, and doesn't like being in a wet diaper. I'm glad we're not adding to landfills, and that we're doing less wash. Most of the time I am more tuned in to my baby than I might be otherwise. And sometimes, I'm not! Yes, I am a non-perfect, human mother. I'm doing the best that I can, trying to help my baby be a healthy, happy human being and I am not judging someone else for what they choose to do or not do.Our baby does wear cloth diapers in case of misses which helps to keep us very relaxed about it. When we're out we use a baby bjorn little potty in the hatchback of our car or if we're away from the car I hold her over the toilet. ECing for us started by accident. My daughter had very sensitive skin and the pediatrician suggested diaper free time for her bottom to air as a new infant. We happen to notice some of her patterns such as peeing after nursing, upon waking, and squirmy/sudden fussiness before peeing. Simultaneously my husband stumbled upon Diaper Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh at the library. [Note: even though my husband brought the book home, he was skeptical and reluctant for a while until he started to see that it really worked.] This book points out that you can do this part-time, full-time or occasionally. I figured, let's just try this part time. As time went on, it became 2nd nature, fairly simple, and EC took it's own course shifting us to full time ECers. I too have bragged, "oh we never change poopy diapers!" 2 in the last 3 months to be exact. And I do love that about EC, not scraping poop off of her butt on a regular basis is absolutely worth it, for both of us. However, Heather, I am now prepared to eat my words because...My daughter, just in the last few days, has started a potty pause. ;-) She's never minded sitting on her potty before, suddenly she has a very strong opinion about it, and is clearly refusing to do so. I've switched to holding her over the toilet, and yes, the sink in our bathroom so she can giggle at herself in the mirror. So far she's still willing to sit on the potty when she has to poop, but not for pees. I hope to be patient and gentle. Keep a sense of humor, offer potty chances when I think they're appropriate, and respect her clearly expressed opinions when she refuses. I trust that this will come back around.There you go. Someone will likely find something I said offensive, someone else might feel supported or inspired. We do the best we can as mothers. We make decisions, plans, etc, and then we find out that we're not nearly as in control as we might like to think.~ a very happily ECing mama of a 9 month old unbelievably happy girl (BTW...everyone who meets my daughter comments that she is the happiest baby they've ever met. It's really amazing how happy she is. I certainly don't attribute this to ECing, and although I'd love to claim credit, I believe she came into the world with this sunny disposition. I do, however, believe that being respectful of her has allowed this delight to flourish.)
I love your article. Thanks for writing it and publishing it. I'm sorry you've had such judgmental comments (though, I guess, a small proportion of people will make those sorts of comments - trying my best to accept the variation in humanity here :-) ). I've been looking for an article on EC that isn't overly negative nor positive (but has a basically positive slant), and that doesn't have scary misleading comments about it possibly being harmful. This is it. I'm going to print it for my non-ECing visitors to chance upon. I practice EC with our 5 month old DD. It's not all easy sailing. But I still think it's the better option. Thanks again.
Great article. We do EC too, but we take the sanity-preserving route and do it part-time for the first year.That means that I take baby potty after waking up (a practically guaranteed pee catch) and also if he signals to me. But I don't really worry about pees too much for the first year, like I said. I have other things to do than take my babe potty every 15-45 minutes. I'm a working mom running my own business and peeing a little baby all the time is pretty labor-intensive. Not so bad in summer, but winter sucks, what with all the clothes to strip off.For the first year I focus on poops, because seriously, that is SOOOOO worth it. Both of my babes have been pretty much free of POOPY diapers since they were tiny. Not having to change that smushed nastiness is totally worth it. Holding a baby over the toilet is much easier and cleaner, and my babies both greatly preferred to poop on the toilet.I totally laughed when I read about you following the Golden Rules. I'm the one who *wrote* the Golden Rules on the EC list, and yes, they do come in handy if you have no clue when to potty your baby. But by NO means do I think you MUST potty your baby on each and every one of those occasions. Like I said, I have a laid-back approach. I do EC for the aspects that make it easier (like relieving a fussy baby at night, or saving a diaper, or preventing a blow-out cleanup), but if I'm having a hard day I diaper and take a break.Also, keep in mind that I complied those rules when my first son was a YEAR OLD, and I was attempting to go from part-time EC to full-time EC. These were rules that helped me figure him out. But yeah, at a year old, he wasn't doing them nearly as often as a smaller baby.Lastly, I think half the people who posted here are ignorant germophobes. If you are letting your preschooler fill up a public sink and swish her hands around in it...ewwww. And not because some ECer might have been there.And for Kitten, who wrote:"The world does not revolve around you and your baby's elimination needs."Well, actually it sort of does. Disposable diapers are one of the leading sources of solid waste, and none of that poop and pee is going into the sewer system to be disposed of properly. How many of you non-ECing germophobes are scraping poo from your disposables into the toilet each and every time, as it states on the package? Bet not many. So, you complainers, not only are you filling up our landfills with your plastic trash, you are sticking your kids pee and poop where it is clearly not meant to be, and where it will sit for a long, long time. What a lovely legacy for the future world. Ick.
Ooops, forgot to answer this one:Many, many posters have said they don't have a problem with EC itself. I would love for someone to write in saying that they practice EC, and wouldn't dream of letting their child use a public sink as a toilet, and how they handle being out in public with their baby.Well, we never used the sink, except on *very* rare occasions for pee at home. My first baby would always poop at home first thing in the morning, never when out. He insisted on using the toilet, and would not use a little potty until much later.My second will sometimes need to poop when we are out and yes, I take him to the toilet. Not the sink. The toilet is just easier, and more private.Since both are boys, I will often pee them outside if we are out and about. Bushes, trees, grass, storm drains, all work fine. The rule is: if it's OK for a dog to pee there, then it's OK for a baby too. Plus, it's way easier than finding a bathroom, and the grass never seems to mind too much. ;-)So there you go. Stop fixating on pee in the sink! It's not de rigeur for ECing, OK?Hope that helps answer your question.
Are those of who you object to "tone" going to object to this as well? (Which, by the way, I don't think is rude -- not really getting the point, but not rude.):Lastly, I think half the people who posted here are ignorant germophobes. And, for the record, I've always properly flushed waste in the diaper. As have nearly all the friends I have who use disposables.And I have never, not once, "scraped" poop of my child's bottom -- because I change the diaper fast enough that I don't have to scrape.
the maid said:And, for the record, I've always properly flushed waste in the diaper. As have nearly all the friends I have who use disposables.And I have never, not once, "scraped" poop of my child's bottom -- because I change the diaper fast enough that I don't have to scrape.Well, you are your friends are very rare. If you do scrape the poop into the toilet each and every time, more power to you.But here's the part that doesn't make sense to me at all. If you are so on top of things that you are able to change your child's poopy diaper every single time *before* he/she even sits down.....then why in the world wouldn't you just go sit him/her on a potty when you first notice the straining, red face, or whatever is clueing you in? It sounds like you're pretty tuned in, but you are effectively teaching your child that the diaper is the right place for poop. I hope that you don't end up with one of those toddlers who asks for a diaper to poop in, and then goes to stand in a corner to do it. Because believe me, I have heard from plenty of desperate moms who are going through that with their diaper-trained kids. Might as well cut out the middleman, as Heather so eloquently expressed it, and just put your child on the toilet, right? Or little potty or what have you. Seat reducers work great too. I mean, why wait? You're not doing anyone any favors by watching your child poop in a diaper, then changing it.
I appreciate that the really caustic tone of the posts seems to have retreated. I'm fine with people disagreeing with me, and even educating me about mistakes I've made. What I disliked was being made to feel I'm a Bad, Bad Person, and a Bad Mommy for being flawed, or not realizing how my actions impact others' sensibilities.For the record: For the next child, I don't think I'll be peeing anyone over sinks, public or otherwise. It was a pain in the ass, frankly, and others' people's points about sink contamination only adds to the reasons not to get the child in the habit of it. I am sorry if my article/experience grossed people out. Honestly, it completely caught me by surprise? I think a few years ago, I would have thought my blindness to that possibility rather laughable.Why was it so easy to miss how I might offend people? One thing that frustrated me about EC (and about mothering in general) was that the norms were so hard to guage. I think that's part of the "Maverick" phenomenon. If you choose to _not_ do what everyone else is doing, you have to make up your own etiquette, norms, practices, and solutions yourself. Every time. Which gets very exhausting. I think every mom has that problem to some extent, because so few of us actually participate in child-rearing before we have kids. So when we do it, we only have experts' models to follow--or friends', or in-laws, or online discussion forums. Take that disorientation and multiply it by ten, and you get some sense of how I felt while ECing. Being rather a literal-minded perfectionist didn't help (thus taking the Golden Potty rules so...literally). I felt so disoriented. How do you gauge where the line between neglect/being relaxed is? Where did my childs' needs end and mine begin? And how was I supposed to handle being social and out in public with a breastfeeding, farting, crying, pooping, wiggly baby? I had to get over so many taboos breastfeeding in public--peeing in public kind of felt the same way.And all this on very little sleep. I wish, now, I'd known how much easier it would be to do EC with a second child. Then I would have had some context for breaking the rules.Thanks for the comments, especially from those who didn't attack me personally, even if you hated me feeling 'entitled' to use a public sink......
Ms. Laura--It's interesting you felt better about peeing in public. I've gotten dirty looks peeing my child in public (out of the way at the beach)--and my husband isn't very comfortable with it. Though I know an EC mom who did it outside--at Disneyland. Serious chutzpah. :)
Great article, Heather. I am an EC mama and could relate to many of your sentiments. I find that EC can be quite frustrating since DS (6 mo) doesn't really signal, BUT, it's definitely worth it to not have to clean up any poopy diapers anymore. As far as public EC goes, if the bathroom is gross, I just don't use it and explain that I'll change his dipe when we get home or find a more suitable place. We aren't so much into peeing him in the open, unless we are at a park, and in that case we find a tree and treat it like camping elimination (bury whatever necessary, make sure noone will accidentally end up with a shoeful, etc.)Anyway, thanks for the honest article=)
Just thought I'd share the post I wrote to the EC list just now, hopefully to reach other "perfectionists" like yourself, Heather. Before I do, I just wanted to say that EC is way easier with Baby #2, simply because you tend to be more relaxed and accepting of MOST stuff that happens with #2. It's all old hat.OK, here's the post-----------------------------OK, so I just read this article:http://www.brainchildmag.com/essays/winter2008_caliri.aspAnd I was somewhat horrified to read that she was trying to follow all the Golden Rules that I wrote, like they were actual RULES about doing EC.I'm not at all surprised that she got completely burnt out and ended up taking a break from EC, and now seems to have a bad taste in her mouth about it, like it's just too much work and not feasible for anyone who actually has a life.So....just in case anyone else is feeling that way, let me clarify. The Golden Rules were meant to be a list of helpful hints for people who want to do EC but have no idea when to try pottying their kids.They were NOT meant to be a list of all the times that you should or must potty your child. In fact, they might not even apply to your child! Everyone's baby is different, these were patterns that I noticed with MY first baby and I wrote them down as a reminder to myself of what those patterns were, then posted them thinking they might be helpful to others looking for elimination patterns.Also, I wrote down those rules when my first baby had just turned a YEAR old and I was trying to go from part-time to full-time EC. Before one year I didn't even attempt to EC full-time, because the pees were just too frequent for me to keep up with. I focused on poops, wake-up pees, and that was about it. I felt that I had really good success with that effort and I was happy to not change poopy diapers. Personally, I think anyone who tries to catch every pee of a child under a year old is in for a LOT of work, and I don't have that kind of time available to me. I do catch whatever pees I can with my 11-month-old, at least a few every day, and I keep the Golden Rules in mind as guidelines, because my second baby seems to follow those patterns as well. But hey, NO PRESSURE, PEOPLE! The only real rule to EC is that if you start to feel stressed about it, back off. If EC is not fun and easy for you and your baby, then relax about it. You don't get any awards or medals for catching 100%. EC IS NOT ALL OR NOTHING. Part-time is *totally* OK. If you catch one single pee per day, or geez...*anything at all*, you're still way ahead of the game.On that note, happy ECing! And I MEAN THAT! ;-)-----------------------------
Just wanted to say I'm an ECing mom who wouldn't dream of using a public sink or wall for my child to pee on. I often hear of people doing this in the EC forums I frequent and in articles about EC, and I always want to say "please don't do that" because it seems like it rubs everyone the wrong way. The comment section for every single online article I've read about EC that mentions peeing in a public sink always degenerates into an argument about whether that is acceptable or not. And I hate it because I think it makes us all look bad.Anyway, I'm a slacker EC mom, and it's going great. I have mixed feelings about articles like these. On the one hand, as an ECer, I loved it. It was funny and honest and I can relate to some of the feelings and situations. On the other hand, my overall experience has been very different because I have not allowed myself to become obsessive about it, and I worry that others reading this will get turned off to it because assume that it's like this for everyone - and it really doesn't have to be. We use diapers almost all the time, and just take them off and use the potty when I'm pretty sure the baby is telling me she has to go. I spend, oh, 15 minutes a day TOTAL on EC-related activities with my 7-month-old, and I end up getting her daily poop into the potty and about 50% of her pees. Since we use cloth diapers, this means a drastic laundry reduction for me. It's also staved off diaper rash (no easy feat with her very sensitive skin), and it's fun to be able to respond to her needs. I don't think of it in terms of cash now rather than credit later, both because conventional potty training hasn't been that bad for a lot of people I know, and because there's no guarantee that my kid will be out of diapers faster anyway. I'm doing it for the rewards in the present moment.
Heather, I loved the article and appreciated your honesty. I have to say the intensity of the posts related to your article attest to such important underlying issues that all of us struggle with as mothers--trusting ourselves... I have been practicing EC with my daughter since she was 4 months old--and went through similar ups and downs mentioned in your article. From 8-9 months (common age of the potty pause) we rarely caught pees. Though by 10 mo, my daughter refused to poop in a diaper and by 11 mo. was completely poop-trained. The peeing-training was much more gradual. My daughter has been pretty much potty trained since 19 months, though there are still times that I have to creatively encourage her to use the potty.When she was 12 mo. we stopped using disposables and cloth diapers for back up. That was the last time we bought diapers though definitely not the last time she peed on the floor. So many times I thought to simply not to EC, but once I started there was no looking back. My daughter wouldn't let me. At times she didn't signal, but if I didn't want to take her to the bathroom and she really needed to go, she would scream until I did! She hated wearing diapers and she hated soiling herself. When I got to a point of frustration, I would often see, that it was something in my attitude, in my expectations that was causing the stress. In the end, what I love so much about EC was just getting in tune with my daughter, and learning to be a mother as she has taught me. It's so interesting how sleep and eating are such important issues--and yet elimination, which follows the eating-- somehow has through the culture of diapering been given a different and detached status. I find that so much of my mothering is fighting advertising and marketing and trying to tune in with my daughter and simply observing what she needs. EC has helped me learn to observe, as has breastfeeding and cosleeping and playing.Anyway, thanks again, I loved the article.
It's so funny, copaxti and edie, how all of our experiences differ. My daughter doesn't mind pooping or peeing in a diaper now. Conceivably, it could be because I'm a Bad EC Mommy, but it could also just be her personality. If she were more grossed out about elimination, she'd let me know. As it is, I have a hard time guessing even when she's pooped if I don't see her make that poopy face.What I didn't appreciate enough about EC is how much the kids play a role. I think, perhaps, that was my achilles heel--that it doesn't matter, necessarily, what you resolve to do: your kid may or may not be down with it, or may not be on your page. Either you have to find their page or give up your plans.And yes, copaxti, I concur that my obsessiveness isn't the norm of EC. When I wasn't feeling bad about not doing enough EC, I felt bad about not being more relaxed about it. I wanted to let go--I really did--but I had a hard time. I guess that's something I have to discuss with my therapist. Or pray about.
Just wanted to say I'm an ECing mom who wouldn't dream of using a public sink or wall for my child to pee on.Thank you very much for posting this. I'm very glad to hear that there are ECers who do think of the people who have to clean up after them. (I'm sure there are many, actually -- the silent majority and all that.)It sounds like you're pretty tuned in, but you are effectively teaching your child that the diaper is the right place for poop.I don't think that's what happened, though. For instance, my son potty trained very, very easily -- essentially over a weekend with no angst. We just talked to him for a period of time about how to recognize what it felt like to have your body need to pee or poop when we saw him straining. We asked him to tell us when he felt he had learned to listen to his body enough that he felt comfortable with underwear. One day he did, we spent the weekend at home so he could practice, and he was in underwear by Monday. He had a few accidents every so often after that, but nothing major. It was very, very easy.I don't think that running and putting him on the potty every single time I saw him straining would have been easier than what we did. It seems to me it would have been a lot harder, plus it would have introduced the element of how to handle public outings. Maybe if we'd had a child who had a hard time with potty training I'd feel differently, but from my perspective, EC seems like a tremendous amount of unnecessary work. Also, I found diapers very easy -- cloth for at home, disposables for outings, a quick dump in the toilet for the waste, and it was done. The rule is: if it's OK for a dog to pee there, then it's OK for a baby too.I think that's a decent rule.
As someone who won't be a parent for quite some years I found this a very interesting article. I've never changed a diaper and personally it seems unappealing at best. But this seems like a lot of work. Perhaps more work than changing a diaper. When/If I have kids it would be an interesting option if it meant changing less diapers.Having the baby pee in the sink, while not the best option in my opinion, is better then having the baby pee on the floor or a chair. Which I've actually seen, although I doubt the parents were ECers. They seemed more clueless than anything else.
As I read your essay I experienced a wide array of emotions. Mostly, I am so sorry that you experienced the EC community in the way that you did. I think it's important for people engaging in the EC community to understand how our comments and discussions are interpreted by lurkers. I am involved in a group in Seattle and while we offer guidance to our many members, my number one message is that EC can and should be adapted to your lifestyle and you should practice EC in a way that makes you (and your child) feel relaxed - mommies really do know what's best and if it doesn't feel right to you, you shouldn't do it, no matter what the community at large is saying.And while I understand your grievance about the playgroup and listening to two practitioners sharing their experience (which may have been mostly positive, while yours was fraught with challenges, even though you also mention that at times you had wild success as well) and you felt that they were painting a rosy picture, as a group leader myself, I wonder how to present better information to people who are considering EC.One of the things that I like to think is helpful about our meetings is that often, I am the only one there who has a positive story because my child graduated from cloth diapers at 14 months (we EC'd from birth, used cloth diaper back up, gave potty-tunities based entirely on timing, lived through potty "pauses", did not practice EC at night and ultimately when our daughter began using ASL, she graduated and we haven't looked back - was it easy? Sometimes yes, sometimes no and I like to think of myself as an equal opportunity sharer when it comes to sharing the range of our experiences, though my group may choose to differ with me about that, I'll have to ask them). Anyway, generally the other folks who make time to attend meetings are folks who are facing challenges. So a newbie would get to hear the downside of EC as well as some of the possible solutions - I don't think we paint as rosy a picture as the playgroup that drove you to your last nerve. Every child is different, from both my own experience and the anecdotal experiences I've been exposed to through our group, there are no hard and fast "golden rules". You have to find what works for you. So I am glad to know that you did finally come to a place where you gave yourself permission to threw out the rules and relax and go at your own pace, whatever pace that was at the time. And though the sentiment in your essay is very brief at the end, you do realize that EC works - it appears from your essay that your complaint is about it's presentation to you and your own personal views on how to apply the information that you were accessing. I can understand that.And one other thing, I think that if a person finds him/herself in a state where all he/she is focused on is pottying a child, there are a lot of opportunities being missed. There are a lot of things going on in life at any given moment and for me, EC is about including the communication about elimination as a part of the whole, not creating a pressured environment where EC becomes the whole and everything else is sacrificed.EC is about communication and Diaper Free is more about the freedom from a reliance on diapers, not killing yourself to never use a diaper at all.So thank you for a window into your experience. I must say that I will be thinking about your words for a long time to come, probably at every EC meeting I attend, and I will be trying to find a way to communicate more effectively with other families who feel like you do, although it is tough to read people's minds when they lurk on-line and attend meetings, but don't speak their minds.Thank you for speaking up.Peace,ChaosNickZ19@aol.comEC-erSeattle, WA
This must be a first child thing. Because what exactly are your older children supposed to do while you spend all day in the bathroom (public or private) holding your baby over the sink?An idea! Maybe they can hold the baby part of the time. Because holding a 10 lb baby with straight arms over a sink for 10 minutes while sh-ing sound hard!
This whole thread is exactly why I hate liberal parenting sites. First, there's Heather's repeated invocation of how she's a "maverick;" and how's she's breaking the norms of parenting and she's such a radical. (Of course, she lives in a place that supports an EC play group, so she's not so much out of the norm). So she writes about it in this great magazine, with all of the caveats about how she feels conflicted about not doing this right, but that's just cover for clear pride in her accomplishment of successfully using EC with her daughter. Which is this thing liberal mothers do: we brag under guise of disclosing our problems ("I really didn't know how to respond when Jane asked me about the periodic table at 18 months. I never dreamed she'd understand when my husband and I were discussing it over our [organic, home cooked] dinner.")And then, when she's criticized for her actions (and shouldn't you expect that if you're actually a maverick?), everyone tsks because you're only supposed to be praised in this community for being a maverick.Most of us are just trying to work and go home and be kind to our kids and kind to our spouses, and maybe have a few minutes to ourselves. So spare me your faux ambivalence and hand wringing and your cliquey criticism of anyone who disagrees with you.I used to love this magazine but the repetitive essays in which someone presents their "radical" parenting style with the thin veneer of "can I keep true to my principles? Is it good for my child?" Answer, issue after issue: yes and yes! OK, you're a much better breastfeeder/environmentalist/mother/gardener than I am. But why can't you just do it without writing about it?
Anonymous wrote:This must be a first child thing. Because what exactly are your older children supposed to do while you spend all day in the bathroom (public or private) holding your baby over the sink?----------------------First of all, you don't spend all day in the bathroom.Second of all, what does your baby do while you help your older children go potty? Or what do any of your children do when YOU have to go to the bathroom? You deal for a few minutes, then go back to your life.--------------------------Then Anonymous wrote:An idea! Maybe they can hold the baby part of the time. Because holding a 10 lb baby with straight arms over a sink for 10 minutes while sh-ing sound hard!---------------------------Who said you should hold the babya) with straight armsb) over the sink?I did neither. My babies either sat on a potty, or supported on my thighs while I sat on the toilet, or a toilet with a seat reducer.Ugh, the ignorance! It's killing me that people are passing snap judgments on something that they obviously know nothing about. How about asking a question if you don't get how it works?
I guess we read different articles. Because the one Heather wrote said:a) she had to hold her baby over the sink because the toilet scared her and I don't see how you do that without being peed on, except with straight arms;b) she did it from when she was a newborn and couldn't sit up (but yours sat up alone immediately? must be because you're so in touch with her needs); and c) that when following the Golden Rules, it took all her time.
The only thing I will say about the pee spaz-es is that urine is antiseptic. That's just kidney tubules and physiology my friends. Poo, on the other hand, isn't nearly as hygenic.I stopped by your blog but couldn't leave the following comment so I posted it here so as to not waste all my extremely valuable time. (-:Okay, I came over here by a complicated route and I read your post on that website and I have to say I am FASCINATED by this whole EC thing. I just checked out the book you mentioned. At this point my theory is that doing EC is kind of like being the person who managed to train their cat to use the toilet - awesome, but not common... (-: Anyway, sorry about the high heels. Like my mom always told me, it hurts to be beautiful! I have always said it must have been men who invented high heels but the older I get and the more I learn about women I think a woman could certainly bear some responsibility as well...
Is there a website about this? How does the baby know when it's time to go? What keeps him from deciding to do it as his convenience?
Diaper Free Baby has a lot of good information and tips. It is the largest and best-known organization associated with EC. Most regions have some sort of local support group structure in place, either online or in person (or both).
The only thing I will say about the pee spaz-es is that urine is antiseptic. That's just kidney tubules and physiology my friends.It's only antiseptic until it touches any part of the skin. And honestly, who cares? Would you want to clean up other people's pee even if it was 100%, never touched any skin on the way out antiseptic? Why do (some) ECers feel this is okay behavior? I still don't really feel like I've got a clear answer on that, although I do appreciate the input from the ECers who follow the "if it's okay for a dog to pee there, it's okay for a kid" public pee rule.
Another EC-ing mom here. I totally get the perfectionism/obsessive thing! When I realized I was getting too hard on myself for missing, I also just took a break and just went back to the basics of pottying after waking up. Now at 7 months, its much easier- we've learned to relax and not need to worry about catching every pee. As for what we do when we're out- we use gdiapers (someone mentioned them before- compostable/biodegradable dipes) and don't stress. Sometimes we might pee him in public, usually not. Plus we use disposables at night because our babe is such a huge pee factory at night. Part-time EC-ing works just fine (as the mom of three who showed me how to do it told me). It's all a continuum- a child gradually becomes more and more aware of their bodies and how to communicate their needs. Although it will have the benefit of being out of diapers sooner, and is environmentally friendly, what I personally love most is how I get to see and be a part of the start of interpersonal communication with my guy at such a young age. It is truly amazing to me that at 7 months he is starting to be able to understand the word and sign for potty, and that he really is aware of his body. I love the huge smile he gives me when I ask if he has to poop (if he does have to), or watch him lean over to try to see himself pee. It's incredibly sweet.Lastly, EC-ing is not the provenence of the rich. Lately I've worked as a nanny, music teacher and musician, and right now my husband and I work hard to pay the rent every month.For real lastly, you don't hold the baby straight-armed out over the toilet. You have their back up against your stomach and your hands supporting under their thighs/knees. And no, don't worry, pee and poo does not go all over you. Give it a try when your baby first wakes up! :)
We use EC."Is anyone else sort of saddened by this whole discussion?"I am. I feel that the comments here are focused on the wrong part of the article. I am horrified by the effect that diapering has on the environment (the overall effect of which is much more disastrous than pee on a wall) but this is not what I feel the need to post in response to articles about people whose children potty-train later than usual. "Your kid filled an extra ton of landfill? The world does not revolve around you and your preschooler's elimination hang-ups."I personally also believe that peeing in sinks is very un-hygenic, although I have no illusions about the sanitation of public toilets (there is an invisible spray that spreads when you flush, and it has a radius that can make it over the walls- in addition to the washing thing- ugh). So yes, there are those of us who EC who do not pee our kids in unconventional places.But that is not the point, just like the fact that some people who change diapers in airline seats is the point of diapering. It is totally beside the point. The point of the article, as I understood it, was how one woman tried to do what she felt, at the time, was best for her child in the long run, and what she learned along the way.Is it really better in the long run? I suspect that for some children, EC can make the difference between potty-training as infants and potty-training just before kindergarten, while for others, it doesn't make a big difference. I do believe that my daughter gets some benefits from my responsiveness to her needs, but then, she also is annoyed by my taking her to the potty (when she has to go) during her play.Overall, it has become part of my normal life, and it has to be to work, in my opinion. If it is looked upon as an "extra", it will seem like an intolerable burden, just like breastfeeding appears to those who believe that bottle-feeding is justified by the supposed convenience. I do not think that the breastfeeding analogy can be taken very far- whereas breastmilk really is the only acceptable food for the vast majority of babies, and can save lives, EC is no such thing. While breastfeeding in public is essentially eating in public, EC in public is essentially peeing and pooping in public. Nonetheless, in terms of work burden, I think they are comparable. In some senses, they do (or rather, can) take more time, especially depending on the child. But they both also bear out benefits later, which also depend on the kid.For us, EC is how we keep our daughter clean, how we gradually and gently teach her how we deal with that part of life, and how we are as frugal and green as possible. I can't imagine using only diapers. But then, we live in a country where EC is the norm. I would also add that I did not use the book, "Diaper Free", and I have heard that a number of people who ended up feeling pressured read this book. I read "Infant Potty Training" by Ingrid Bauer, which is, as I've heard, advocates a much more laid-back approach.To the person who wrote:"I've visited countries where kids don't typically wear diapers, and unsurprisingly, THEY STINK. In the literal sense of the world."I find this statement both shocking and saddening. I'm not sure how I can reply to it civilly except to say that I live in such a country, and my in-laws were born here, and I do not think that they stink. I have been to a number of other countries where they use infant potty-training, and they do not generally stink, either.
"just like the fact that some people who change diapers in airline seats is the point of diapering"is NOT the point of diaperingSorry!
I'm amazed at how some comments on this article are overly obsessed with the final scene in which she pees the baby in the sink. It simply does not make the author a horrible person and I'm just really surprised at how some people overreacted about that.From an environmental standpoint, we have a finite number of resources, and they are running out due to serious overconsumption. Please consider getting your panties in a bunch about that instead of about someone who made an effort to keep thousands of diapers out of landfill.Although perhaps the toilet would have been a better option than the sink, it is not such an impardonable offense. Pee is sterile, and I'm sure she washed the sink afterwards. I'm pretty disappointed in people's narrow minded alarmist reactions to that. I can't believe someone said "the world does not revolve around you." That is just over the top rude, and was uncalled for. It was way out of proportion to the situation.
My experience:I read about EC just before my 2nd son was born. I did EC with him in between diapers, with an 18 month old toddler to care for as well without a problem, but it fell apart when I was back at work five weeks later.My 3rd, and youngest, was born the end of June. I was total SAHM until end of Sept, and we did EC (& cloth backups) just fine for those months. In fact, at three weeks, we got a little busy and had only been doing diapers only for a couple of days (car trips) and he got a little constipated. I couldn't figure out why until I started doing EC again and he became regular again.One thing I haven't seen mentioned is that for me, it started with responding to his cues, but after a few weeks of my making noises (hiss for pee, grunting for poop) he responded to MY cues.The end of September, I started school, and about 20 hours a week, he came to class with me. For those 10 weeks of fall quarter, I took him potty on my breaks and he responded to my cues to potty. I didn't always have dry diapers at break time, but he did always respond to my cue to potty, and I rarely had a poopy diaper, almost always he'd poop in the potty.January, he started in daycare. Daycare workers would check his diaper, he'd be dry. Check it again, he'd be dry, check it again, he'd be dry... then check it again, and he'd be SOAKED. He was holding it waiting for someone to take him potty. After 10 weeks of that, he was trained into using diapers, and has been ever since. Well, at 18 months he's beginning to take an interest in the potty, but knowing he's going back to daycare in two weeks, I'm not going to hold high expectations for anything lasting to happen with it.When I was ECing, I made frequent use of the "if it's okay for a dog" rule when out-of-doors. I didn't have a problem with him using the toilet, but as a cloth diaperer I wipe my baby with a washcloth, rinse and wring it out in sinks and put it in a plastic baggie for next use, before washing my hands, so, so much for hygienic. I've worked retail and cleaned up after the public, and worked as a custodian in a school. I'm someone who chides my children not to leave fingerprints on windows by reminding them that "someone who works here has to clean that" but I never really thought about the person cleaning the sink. I cleaned up floors that kids had accidents on all the time, that's just part of the job, what's the big deal? I guess I'm not assuming the privilege of the writer taking the maid for granted as I am assuming that she'd be willing to do the same for the maid were their situations reversed. Not that, that means I'm right, but that either could be true.I brazenly breastfeed in public and actually got a kick out of explaining to people what I was doing when I held my son over a bush. To me the most self-conscious thing involved was being in a bathroom stall crouched down (in a way that if you were looking under the stall door probably gave the impression I was vomiting) making little grunting and hissing noises. I can only imagine what people were thinking!
I was really glad to see your article and bought the magazine because of it. I have been pottying my 2 month old since he was 2 weeks old. Mostly I use an antique chamber pot that I got at an estate sale. I keep it right by his changing pad, because I use cloth diapers, too. I am by no means obsessive about EC-ing- sometimes at night its too cold or I'm too tired to get out of bed and potty him, sometimes he's really hungry and upset and just wants to nurse immediately and not potty before we nurse- but on the whole its really neat. I like that he can have that connection to his body and what he does with it. Im looking forward to not having to go through the typical potty-training experience with him whenn he's older. I do feel pretty in tune with him, and thats nice. People all over say what an alert, present, aware baby he is, and maybe the fact that we're EC-ing has some part in that. Recently I was at a birthday party picnic with him.He was enjoying himself, smiling, talking, dancing with me to the music. Then I noticed he got that tense, fretful look. I took him by a tree, unsnapped his diaper, and he peed. Then we rejoined the party. Its that simple. When I first saw the title of the article, I thought it was going to patly dismiss EC as kooky, irrational, impossible, ect. Upon reading it, though, I was glad to find it balanced, thoughtful, and based on actual experience. I hope it might inspire some readers to give it a try with their babies. Thanks.
I don't care about the sink. A sink is a sink.But I don't get it. Some people don't use diapers - cloth or otherwise - in developing countries because, I can only guess here, it's not a choice. They can't afford them. And don't you want to sleep? Constantly waking up to potty your baby sounds like sleep dep for the parent. My baby is very content in her cloth diaper and I don't need to know when she is going to pee to feel close and connected to her. We play, cuddle, 'talk' to each other instead of hovering over the sink!
My brother and I were diapered and we are happy, married, own homes and have careers we love. Our step mom ECed our half-brother, although she didn't call it that. He is 28, lives at home, is a part-time student when he isn't jobless and is not in a relationship. He is a lovely guy, but his relationship with his mother is strange. Just as she felt a need to manage his bowel movements, she subtly manages his adult life.
I was breast-fed, and am mildly claustrophobic.My husband was not breast-fed, and is not at all claustrophobic.Therefore, breast-feeding causes claustrophobia.Cum hoc, ergo propter hoc.I don't practice EC, but I have friends who do. I think they would argue that what they do is the opposite of "managing." As in everything, some people go to extremes in their implementation of EC, but I don't think EC itself turns people into overly-controlling parents.
I really enjoyed this article. I had read about EC when my daughter was about six months old and at the time it struck me as insane. I was already pulling my hair out with her incessant breastfeeding and 20-minute naps. By the time she was a year old though, I had read some more and decided there was a way to do it without being a purist. I was very attracted to the idea of using the toilet as something normal than some of the crazier potty-training techniques I've learned. (Hey, if giving candy each time your kid pees appeals to you, good for you. But it wasn't what I wanted to do.)So, having taught her the "toilet" sign that she signed each time she us go, we put her on a little potty after her nap, and wow, she went. Wow! Having a late-starter, as I guess it would be called, probably takes longer but was so worth it. She pottied on the potty a lot between 13 and 18 months--almost always with her signing that she needed to go, then gradually tapered off. We kept offering and let her choose for herself. Then just after her second birthday, she decided she wasn't interested in diapers and stopped using them completely.No fights. No bribery. No punishment. The hardest part? Reading book after book as she sat on the potty. Pre-EC, she liked to throw and chew on books. Apparently the EC stuff corresponded with some developmental change because she suddenly would sit still for up to 30 minutes at a time while asking us to read another book. So we have a book-lover now too. :)BTW--there was a shocking number of really snarky comments here. Look, you don't like EC, fine. No one is pushing it on you. Aren't half of parenting decisions about parents, not kids? If you choose diapers it's because that's what works for you--just like EC. And if you choose disposables, isn't it about your needs, not your kids? Get over yourselves. As far as hygiene: haven't you changed your kid in a public place before, or do you seek out a changing table in a restroom every single time? I've seen a lot of people change diapers in places I don't consider hygenic like fitting rooms (leaving behind the dirty diaper) and park benches--all places other kids play later. (My kid has always peed in a toilet, never a sink, for the record.)
I pee my baby in bathroom sinks. Not ones I prepare food in, although I do put rancid milk and other liquid food stuffs with a much higher bacterial load down the kitchen sink!My DH is a prof of microbiology and said anon is more likely to be putting the dangerous forms of e.coli (something he works with daily) into the sink with her hands than Heather's baby is to be doing so with her wee. Her poop is also unlikely to contain the sort of e.coli strain that anon is so obviously terrified of. If it did she would be in a serious condition. Also, a young baby's gut is not well colonized with gut flora either. He hopes that puts Anon's mind a little at rest.Meanwhile, I hope anon is not thinking to brush her teeth in a public sink or empty out a drink of milk she carried around in her handbag for more than 4 hours. You will find a much greater bacterial yield for sure.Sorry if that smacks of entitlement of some sort (I really couldn't work out what that was about. It seemed to smack a lot of entitlement to require people to disinfect everything when they changed a diaper.)I'm so happy to not contribute to the festering diaper bin that stinks out the restaurant toilet. I cannot believe that smell, and how unhealthy it must be to have that amount of poop sweating in a semi-enclosed place, rather than already heading into a sewer.___________________"This article just confirms what I already thought about EC--it's about the parents, not the babies." Next, I don't think any parenting practice can be exclusively about the parent or the baby. It is a very black and white statement.It cannot be exclusively about the child if the parent is involved in it, but we do try (as Heather made plain by describing the growth of her self-awareness) to be listening to the child, rather than 'training' or 'teaching'. However, like anything, listening and responding to a child can easily slip into leading or training if we are not vigilant. We all suffer from performance anxiety, perfectionism and forms of achievement orientation ... to some extent. After all, we come from cultures (USA & UK, at least) based on achievement, competition and conditional parenting strategies for controlling children's behaviour.Getting away from that is a challenge and an awakening that Heather describes well through her experience of EC.I was sent a link to this article by someone who reads my blog and recognized a remarkably similar set of experiences and developments to those described by Heather in her article (apart from I've never mentioned peeing in sinks ;-) ... but I may have to in future!!!)This article really resonated with me, therefore. I found it refreshingly honest and humble, as well as very well told. The tale unfolds in a way that is very open and honest about EC. EC is no less fraught with confidence issues, issues with controlling your own impulse to control, and high points as any other facet of parenting!I have particularly worried in public that my children may cry or protest on the pot. That does happen sometimes. However, what I know from having babies diaperless from birth is that some babies (one of mine) cry before peeing, and it has nothing to do with the pot. However, it would, I'm sure be seen as confirmation of the practice being a cruelty.I don't suppose a similar judgment would occur when watching a diapering mother diapering a screaming child who hates to be diapered. That's just 'necessary'!I EC with my children to avoid potty training, to avoid sitting them in poop (and the high rate of bladder and kidney infections associated with diapering girls in particular), to avoid nappy rash, to avoid washing (well, a bit!), to avoid impact on the environment, to avoid handling poop (especially solid food poop!), ... but most of all to avoid ignoring a newborn who is telling me she instinctively knows she doesn't want a lot of contact with her eliminations.It is very difficult to ignore a baby who is not in a diaper! It is the best way to ensure you have no choice but to practice mindful parenting, however fast the modern world around you may move.
I also bought the magazine because of this article although as a special ed teacher and an adopted child, I have enjoyed several of the articles in this issue.I am an EC mom of my second child. I am a little saddened that most of the posts talk about dirty unhygienic practices. The only sink my son pees in is mine and I wash it daily because he also baths in it. The reason I started using it was to save my back! Since then I have purchased a little potty that I bring with us when we go to friends' houses and use it if we feel like it. Otherwise I use mostly cloth diapers and the occasional disposable. I decided to try EC because of some of the statistics presented in the Diaper Free Book. I also liked the idea that I could read my son's cues and better understand and distinguish his cries. And you can! I am not militant about it and initially refused to try it at night, but now I do potty him at night, because it is what wakes him up when it is time to nurse. I read one response that said they would not want to get up all night to potty. I potty twice maybe three times a night. Much like adults, babies produce less urine when they are sleeping. He is almost always dry when he power naps and sleeps at night. It's really cool!It seems very odd, but believe it or not, before the common practice of using disposable diapers, the average age babies potty trained was 18-24 months. Now it is 36 months and we have an entire industry dedicated to potty training.Anyway, it is a parenting choice and it is odd to most in our culture. I chose it in hopes of doing my part for the environment and better communicating with my son. Thanks for a great article, Heather!
Germs, shmerms. Life is full of risks (and bacteria). There are far worse things in this world that trying to avoid adding diapers to the landfill. I appreciate Heather for trying this and for offering an honest account of her experience. That's why I love this magazine!
Thank you for the article, Heather. I have ECed my DD since she was about a two months just because I did not want to use diaper covers (for cloth) and I started noticing a pattern and was reacting to it ... someone would be holding her and she start fussing and I would say that "I'll take her, she will pee/poo in few seconds." So I remembered one of my midwives mentioning Diaper Free. I never read the book and the yahoo ECing group was way too overwhelming for me. I did it my way and it was more peaceful. We all have different babies, different levels of patience, and different paretning styles. But maybe the decision (that I never really made but just practiced 'being mindful') to EC was part of my style ... not counting hours to nurse but nurse on demand; getting some sleep with my baby in bed instead of getting up, going into the nursery, picking her up, putting her on the breast, putting her down when finished, walking like a zombie back to my bed. I never had my daughter cry to me that she wanted to be picked up ... she was always in a sling. When she cried it was to go pee or be put down and I was just happy to do that.You are right about the paradigm shift. And I think you did it when you through the rules out. I think we women make things more difficult for ourselves mainly because we don't have a sufficient support network. I want to parent peacefully as my great greatmother did ... but how can I when I don't live in a house with three generations of family members all working on a common goal and my family is across the ocean.I like another note you touched on ... eliminating in public. First of all ... most of us don't want to do #2 anywhere else but at home. Usually we hold it or our bodies just won't feel the urge until we hit the comfort of home and truly relax. Well, the same is with babies and kids. My daughter would start holding even pees at six months. And very rarely would she poo outside of the house by then. I was always concerned when she needed to go pee and we were out and about. Than I changed my thinking ... guys piss when they have to go behind a tree or in the alley. Gosh, dogs poo (sometimes masters clean after them) and pee at their will! Why is it so offensive that an ifant pee will get on the grass or a tree, or a storm drain? And yes, my DD peed in the washroom sink and when she was tiny ... she pooed there too. I think people who don't nurse or EC (or both) don't realize that poo from a 100% nurseling is liquid, is not very offensive in terms of smell or colour. That changes when solid food comes in or allergies, though. But that aside. I have witnessed many moms in public washrooms cleaning soiled TODDLERS in the sink from pooing in their diapers (now cleaning a toddlers poo is disgusting to me!) and making comments that they did not know how much longer they could put up with that. I had trouble putting up with the offensive sight and smell in the washroom and totally understood the parent. But then, I never had to deal with that too much 'cause I would just leave for another washroom or do what I was there for extremely efficiently and out I would go.Also, to make another not to the offended people about the use of the sink as a receptacle for pee/poo.... I don't really know any ECing parents that would use the sink for poo on a normal and ongoing basis. It usually happens in early infancy, when poos are very liquid and lots of times are not very 'managable'. What other alternative is there for a baby that needs to go poo? If I were to hold my two month old above the toilet I am sure the poo would end up all over AND around the toilet and I would, for sure, NOT be on my hands and knees trying to clean it up. One should count the blessings for high sinks that allow the parent to aim much better and are easy to clean with some hot water, soap and paper towel.And how many people spit in a sink in pub. washroom.Anyway. I think EC is just a normal way to raise your child just like nursing, birthing, or picking up a crying baby. It is instinctually right. It feels good for both the babe and the Mom. I wonder why it was OK for our foremothers but it is not OK for our generation to do so. Hey, even my generation, in Europe, was raised mainly bare, sometimes with cloth diapers, and was out of diaps by the age of one or one and a half.And no, it is not more convenient to use diapers of any kind. Just think of the money, laundry, or boxes of disposables taking up space and wondering if you are running out. Always having to have a diaper bag with you even when you have a one year old. Insane! Who has time, money, and energy for that?EC worked for millenia and can work now too. Is it a hard work? not sure ... but ... isn't parenting all about that? Learning, re-learning, always on your toes and looking out for dangers, opportunities, first this and that's, and what if's. It is about second guessing and finding your own path that works. Which is not the one that works for Mom or Dad. It is one that makes baby & Mom happy and feels right.wanna EC with cloth diapers ... go for itwanna EC with disposable diapers ... as you likewanna EC full time ... by all meanswanna EC part time ... it's doablewanna EC from birth ... good for youwanna EC from three months post partum ... why notwanna EC because you are an environmentalist ... save the Earthwanna EC because you don't have the money to spend on washing cloth or buying disposables ... good reason tooand so on and so onHappy ECing,V in Burnaby, BC
Someone said "My baby is very content in her cloth diaper and I don't need to know when she is going to pee to feel close and connected to her. We play, cuddle, 'talk' to each other instead of hovering over the sink!"Sure, but EC does provide an intimate bond between the babe and the caregiver. Sure, I can play, cuddle and read with my baby and formula feed ... does that make it as intimate as breastfeeding? No.There is something about OPTIMAL, NORMAL way to meet a child's needs. Breastfeeding as well as ECing belong to that category just as picking up your child when she cries. Anything else in those fields is really a parent's convinience, regardless the fact they may not see it as such.But as a mother who breasfed her child until she was three years old and ECed from two months old until she was done with diaps at 13 months of age I cannot imagine an easier and happier way to parent a child. And I see that my child is happier as well. When her independence started budding when she became a toddler she did not have to worry about any powerstruggles of 'potty training'. There was more sleep for both of us, more happy playful time, and less dragging of diaper bags, wipes, bum creams, etc.On another note ... regarding third world countries using EC instead of diapers because it is not an option there. Stop patronizing the world!! Common, many nations/cultures/ and individuals use some sort of protection against soiling, especially at night. Some First Nations used moss padding where baby slept. In India, some women use cloth/rags under the sleeping baby. Disposable diapers are accessible in many third world countries nowdays and the industry is making big bugs there. However, it is viewed as a sign of a status. Only people who have extra money to spend on disposable diapers or formula do it so more and more people turn to such products to show that they have money. Also, there is the Western World factor ... that everything coming from the west must be better ... who would want a plain old boob (like animals!) or have a baby in split-crotch pants (instead of disposable diap and designer pants)? Right!
Heather, your article really seemed familiar to me! Except I was one who commented lots on the online groups. And I'm not even going to talk about the sink. Except that once. ;)For the most part, my experience with EC'ing my son (now 4) was wonderful. Sure, we had some stressful times, but I always took a break and came back to it a day or two later with a better attitude.Here's how I like to illustrate how EC differs from conventional diapering:A) What kind of face or feeling to you get when you open up a nasty smelly blow-out poopy diaper? Even if you try to stay cheerful and upbeat, you're grossed out. That's normal. But baby internalizes that to some degree, and with some kids, it can cause major problems later on (some factor intrinsic to the kid's own personality - you can't control that).B) Baby seems to have to poop, so you hold them over the toilet between your legs and snuggle them while they go, and you're thinking "yay, one less nasty diaper to clean, and baby is happy too". You can't fake that kind of authentic positivity.And another benefit - you get *unsqueamish* about bodily functions in a hurry! ;)We had our share of misses, and plenty of poopy diapers (from the start of teething at 5 months, to 17 months when we figured out food allergies), but I would 100% go with EC if I ever had another kid.Another benefit from my point of view: I'm a working mom. In Canada, we're lucky to get a whole year off (not fully paid, for me it was about 50%), and I felt that EC would allow me to be present and set the pace for potty learning my own child while I was with him.And if you think your decision to use disposable diapers doesn't affect others, you're dead wrong. The nasty chemicals that go into making them, the resources they tie up, the enormous amount of waste, and that god-awful smell in the "mothers room" affect everyone else too. It's not a personal thing (I used 'sposies entirely with DD, and used them sometimes with DS), it's just the truth, so don't get all high and mighty about the sink thing. (Dang, there I go again.)Oh, and for the record, babies tend to pee less when out and about (no one knows why). And we never used any sinks but our own, and then only in the first few months. When out and about we used potties, old margarine containers (specifically for the purpose), toilets, and anywhere it's OK for a dog to pee. And only where the pee would be washed away by rain relatively soon (we're in Vancouver, it's always going to rain soon). No one ever said boo. Of course our backyard was fair game (why else would one want to own land?). Peeing off the edge of the balcony was a favourite spot. Especially right onto the compost pile! And it helped keep the neighbourhood cats away. ;)As for composting diapers, they are NOT the answer either. Ewww, who wants to deal with that? Really, how many people using 'sposies actually put the poop in the toilet, like it says to *right on the package*??? And human waste should probably not be used anywhere near food-producing ground, no matter how well composted. Especially on a city-wide scale. Pinworms and rotavirus and polio much?Really, a paradigm shift towards EC is going to be one of the answers. Even part-time EC or late-starting EC can make a huge impact. It's not as hard as it seems once you get started. Like anything, there are good days and bad, but the good ones outweigh the rest. Sam-I-am says you should try it. ;)
I EC'd my child from birth to 28 months, with a lengthy "potty pause" from about 16-24 months. I identified with Heather's second-guessing and perfectionism, and like her, finally relaxed into what seemed to work best with my child and my family. In retrospect, much of the anxiety was first-time mom syndrome.Another commenter made a good point: sometimes you'll see a mother washing her child's soiled bottom in a public washroom sink in the midst of a diaper change. I wonder if this would trigger the same amount of rage by all the people who reacted negatively to the public sink eliminating?So the parent washing his or her child's butt in the washroom sink forgot (or ran out of) wipes. What is a responsive parent to do, just let his or her child be dirty? It's the same thing, isn't it, waste going down a public sink drain?If you look at it that way, the same wish to keep your child comfortable and clean is what leads parents who EC to use the public washroom sink. For tiny, in arms babies, self-flushing toilets and adult-sized toilets in general can be scary. Some parents aren't able to master the technique of having your very young child eliminate while sitting on your lap as you sit on the toilet.I was dismayed by the cheap shots the (many?) "Anonymouses" took at parents who EC their children in public. And further dismayed by the disproportionate anger and rudeness of those who felt self-righteously correct in judging the article's author to be "entitled," "unclean," engaged in a primitive and "smelly" practice, and so on. All under the guise of making "pointed" commentary instead of actually being uncivil, as Jennifer pointed out.I don't think Anonymous(es) would find it civil for someone to ask him or her this question, phrased in this way:"Why does the world revolve around a disposable diaper-using parents' need for convenience and the consequence of that convenience: toxic landfills overstuffed with used, non-biodegradable plastic diapers? Isn't that the height of entitlement? What gives you the right to pollute--for generations--just so you can be bothered less? To use a previous commenters words, don't you feel bad about throwaway diapers and '...using the world as your own personal toilet? The world the rest of us have to live in as well?'"While there are valid concerns in your comments and in the above sample tirade, the message is delivered like a cheap shot, isn't it?What I think a lot of people miss about EC is that1) each family tailors it to their needs and schedules2) it's NOT the sole province of "spoiled/privileged/pampered SAHM mommies with too much time on their hands"--so far, no one has talked about how spouses/husbands, older siblings, and partners can play a large role in EC. (Mine certainly did.)3) the ideal of EC is the mindful effort to communicate and listen, as opposed to the goal of potty-training early; we imperfect EC parents often find ourselves fixating on the goal and forgetting the path there, and being frustrated and confused just like any other parent. So we're far from the smug, superior people that others project us to be.4) finally, maybe public bathrooms should be more child-friendly (and therefore EC-friendly) in general. I visited a bathroom with my baby in the children's section of a London department store, and they had child-sized toilets, child-sized bidets, and plentiful family bathrooms. There are starting to be more family bathrooms in public places in America, but as all too many of us know, the already crowded women's room has to accommodate babies being nursed as well as babies being changed. (Being able to breastfeed in public is a whole other topic. Let's just say some women do use the lounge attached to the women's restroom to breastfeed even though they should feel free to nurse elsewhere.) Don't even get me started on more and plentiful changing tables in men's rooms!To parents who EC: take it day by day, don't make yourself anxious, and good luck with the journey. To people who feel compelled to take a cheap shot at EC or the people who practice it: why the disproportionate rage? How about focusing on other, far more drastic cases of "[bad, it's implied]parenting that impinges on others," like stopping bullying?
Have you seen this? Speaking of poking fun at EC.http://bestparentever.com/2008/06/26/43-elimination-communication/
Dumb question here, how exactly is peeing in the sink different from washing your hands off when you've managed to get a bit of poop on them? People use the bathroom and then wash their hands in the sink, if peeing in the sink freaks you out, I really recommend not touching the sink AT ALL.
Oh, and aren't restaurant sinks scrubbed out daily no matter what's going on? I'm beyond grossed out at the thought that they wouldn't have been cleaned if a baby hadn't peed in there. Ewwwwww.....
Anyone else notice the similarities between the whinging about ECing and whinging about breastfeeding?"I've got nothing against breastfeeding, but does it have to happen where I have to see it?""I think she should just pump a bottle when she needs to go out.""I thought women who breastfeed rarely leave the house, that's why I thought it was too much trouble.""Breastfeeding is unhygienic."All translate to "I'm feeling guilty over not doing it myself so I have to make it seem worse than it is so I'm not a bad person. It's too difficult to grow up and own my decisions and realize that what other people choose to do isn't a criticism of me and my choices."I think Heather made a mistake in saying "try" to clean it up. Swishing the sink with some soapy water IS cleaning it up.
"I especially love the EC rhetoric about how EC is like paying with cash instead of credit. I view it more like "you lived a year spending half your life holding a naked baby over the sink and cleaning up her misses, and I spent a week doing the same when my kid was old enough to figure it out." So I guess the metaphor holds up, as long as you realize that it's like paying out $10,000 in cash or putting $10 on credit"ummm.... that would only be true if you put a diaper on your newborn and then didn't change it or deal with his/her elimination in any way until it was time to 'potty train.' if you actually change your child's diaper after every time they pee or poo, you will be doing that upwards of 12 times per day for 2-4 years until they're "old enough to get it". and i think it's great that it took your child a week to potty train. but my friend who spend 2 years dealing with her son's impacted colon and poop accidents until he was 5 would probably have a different opinion about how easy it was because she waited until he was old enough to get it.and while i found the article amusing, it's really not representative at all of my EC'ing experience - i'm currently EC'ing my third child. and i'll tell ya, it's a heck of lot easier than dealing with diapers (which i did with my first for about 9 months before i discovered EC).and for the record, we don't all use the sink as our child's toilet.
This is an open and honest portryal of EC- great essay!As for the public sink, my baby uses them too. In response to some of the negative comments here, all I can say is "Ignorance knows no bounds."
I love this article. It is exactly how I feel and felt. I EC'd my daughter first and now have a son. I had forgotten all the stress and pressure a mom puts on herself when they decide to EC. I see it pretty clearly now that I'm practicing again with my son and going through "dreaded potty pauses" and the like. I, too, like the convenience. Thanks for the article and bits of insight.I have friends who conventionally potty train their children and it was a real struggle. We struggled through our potty pauses, but I would choose EC over diapers and conventional potty training any day of the week. On a different note: You can always clean out the sink...geez...it's not like the public sink was that clean to begin with :) And another thing...don't we take dogs out to walk and they pee on walls and such?
Post a Comment