Today we’re going to have a lively debate: what is the best diaper for elimination communication?
Are disposable diapers okay for elimination communication, or should they be avoided at all costs?
Do you have to commit to cloth diapers to make elimination communication successful? (OMG major overwhelm!)
Do compostable diapers even work? (Or do they fall apart right when the pee hits them?!)
I’m going to unveil the mystery of “which diaper to use for elimination communication” (or infant potty training) right now.
Keep in mind:
- With elimination communication, diapers are used as a “back-up,” not a full-time toilet
- We are only using diapers for 12-18 months with elimination communication, versus 3-4 years if you’re doing conventional toilet training.
With that in mind, let’s go through the pros and cons and, at the end of today’s show, I’ll make my recommendation!
Disposable Diapers for Elimination Communication
Many parents use disposable diapers because they are the most convenient option. They aren’t bulky, they hold in wetness and poop rather well, and they can be bought in bulk and thrown away...without a second thought!
But the negatives of using disposable diapers far outweigh the positives.
- Disposable diapers are estimated to biodegrade in 450-500 years
- No disposable diaper ever thrown away has biodegraded, to date
- They are the 3rd largest part of the wastestream in the US and the only one that waste management experts can not figure out a way to mitigate, offset, or degrade
- They cause diaper rash
- They are being pushed onto parents for longer and longer use - up to 12 hours for the same diaper!
- They are expensive, no matter what kind of deal you get (approx $3,000 per child for 3 years, each)
- Disposable diapers are addictive - once you start, you then move into PullUps and become hooked on those as well.
Given this information, you might want to run away from disposables as fast as possible!
But before you go running, know that disposable diapers often encourage EC’d babies to signal BETTER and stay dry LONGER.
Yep, sometimes it just feels so gross for some babies to pee in disposables, that they are simply easier to do elimination communication with!
If you go with disposables, I highly recommend Seventh Generation for their EC-enhancing qualities - they feel wet when they’re wet, they are rather slim, and they hold in “misses” (what we like to call accidents in EC lingo). They are also free from harmful chemicals.
Next, let’s look at cloth diapers.
Cloth Diapers for Elimination Communication
Cloth diapers are what most parents use if they’re starting EC from birth.
They are less expensive (about $200 for a set of everything you need to do EC, compared to $3,000 for a baby’s supply of disposables thru age 3 years old).
They are adorable.
The production process uses fewer natural resources.
They “feel right” to people who want to raise their babies naturally.
You can re-use cloth diapers again and again, which is great for a family who wants to have a “small footprint” when it comes to their baby.
You are more likely to stop using diapers around the time your baby is walking (10-14 months old) if you use cloth diapers - because you have to wash them!
Given all these positives, you’d think cloth diapers are a no-brainer for elimination communication.
However, there are several cons to using cloth diapers that I’ll share now:
- Laundering cloth diapers consumes a ton of natural resources, which sort of offsets the minimal nature of their production
- Cleaning poop off cloth diapers is just plain blah
- The bulk of the cloth diaper between the legs inhibits walking, crawling, and other motor activities (here’s a link to the study that shows when you remove any type of diaper, baby’s walking gate instantly improves)
- Many babies will pee freely into a cloth diaper, not signal, and not really care that they’re wet because the cloth diaper is SO comfortable
- Cloth diapers are often harder to remove for a quick pottytunity when doing elimination communication
- Cloth diapers are a challenge to figure out for most new parents - what to buy, how to change them, how to launder them, what to do when there’s yeast, and what to do on outings and overnights.
Given this information, I might have you utterly confused at this point!
What should I use then, Andrea? These both seem to be poor options.
Don’t worry just yet.
Cloth diapers are GREAT for daytime use, and I’ve used them with many of my 5 babies. Many moms and dads use cloth with loads of success.
It just depends on the baby. Whether s/he signals well in them or not. Whether they’re wet all the time or baby is experiencing “cause and effect” and is learning from wearing them.
(Also, if you use The Quick EC Diaper Method as outlined in my book Go Diaper Free, it will be way easier to handle the “newness” of cloth diapers in your household!
When baby is poop trained, you can use Tiny Trainers instead of cloth diapers and get the same effect, less bulk, more fun!)
Last, let’s look at compostable diapers.
Compostable Diapers for Elimination Communication
We’ve finally gotten to a rather new development, one that blends the convenience of a disposable diaper with the environmentally-friendly aspects of a cloth diaper: compostable diapers.
But, be warned: all compostable diapers are not equal. They aren’t made the same.
For the purposes of today’s show, I’ll share with you about my fave compostables: Dyper.
These are so soft (my mom wouldn’t let me hear the end of that - WOW!!! every single day LOL), they biodegrade in as little as 75 days (under the right conditions - which btw who cares? They CAN biodegrade!!!?!!! I’ll take it.), they have a yellow line that turns blue when baby’s wet, they come as a subscription so you go to the store much, much less, and they are fairly compact and form-fitting.
Bonus points: Dyper compostable diapers do not leak, per my own experience.
And, for elimination communication, these compostable diapers are great for still feeling wet, keeping baby’s awareness up instead of wicking ALL the moisture away (which teaches nothing).
The cons of Dyper compostables:
- They cost more than disposable diapers
- If you run out of your regular subscription quantity, you can tap “SOS” on the app for more but you have to wait approx 2 days
- You have to compost them without any poop in them for it to “work” (did you know that you’re also supposed to dump regular disposable diapers before you throw THEM away?! Yep. nobody does that.)
So let’s now talk about which is the best diaper for elimination communication: disposable diapers, cloth diapers, or compostable diapers.
The Best Diaper for Elimination Communication (AKA infant potty training)
Compostables by Dyper are, by far, the best diaper for newborns and mobile babies who are using the potty with elimination communication.
They are great for nighttime, they help baby retain a sense of connection with being wet (so they don’t like it, signal better in them, and are easier to take out of diapers in the long run), are super-comfortable, and they biodegrade. Period. Disposables don’t. Period.
Second runner up has to be cloth diapers - great for daytime. Perhaps you can use cloth in the day and compostables at night.
The Best Way to Decide on a Diaper Back-up for EC
All in all, though, use what works for you!
Always use the back-up that works for YOUR baby and increases signals, decreases misses (wet diapers or pants), and creates the least stress for YOU.
Now I wanna hear from you:
What diaper back-up do you use for elimination communication?
Please comment below!
PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)