Today we're going to talk about diapers, or more specifically: the purpose of a diaper.
"Well, isn't the purpose of a diaper quite obvious, Andrea?"
Well, I actually have a really strong opinion about this one...an opinion that I'm going to share with you here today.
Let’s do this!
You will learn:
- The very brief history of diapers
- The diaper’s originally intended use
- How to challenge your own belief system around diapers
- The impact of the diaper industry on the environment
- How a diaper should be used
- Tips from two of our readers
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- The Go Diaper Free Book
- Episode 24 - A Brief History of Diapers
- Scientific Report: The Dangers of Early Potty Training: Do They Really Exist?
- The Paradigm Shift Blog Post
- Biodegradable Diaper Backup
- Biodegradable Wipes
- Free Observation Log
- The Tiny Potty Training Book
- Top Hat Potty at TinyUndies.com
- Mini Potty at TinyUndies.com
- Easy Start Guide for EC (Free Download)
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
Welcome to the Go Diaper Free Podcast where we're all about helping you stop depending on diapers as early as birth. I'm your host Andrea Olson, author and mom of five EC’d babies. This is Episode 48, The purpose of a diaper.
Hey, you guys. I'm so glad to have you here this week. This is a really special episode. I have a really strong opinion about what a diaper is actually supposed to be for, and I'm going to tell you about it here today. And then, I would love to know your comments after we're done. Those comments and that conversation will happen over where the show notes are hosted on my website, godiaperfree.com/48.
Okay, so let's talk about it. What is the purpose of a diaper? Well, ask anybody who does not do EC, or know that it exists or that you can possibly early potty train, will tell you that “a diaper is meant to hold my babies pee and poop. And then, when my baby tells me that he's ready, he can start using the toilet.” Basically, what you're saying is the diaper is a toilet, and if you ask somebody they would say, “Well, yeah, it is.” I don't know if it really clicked that that doesn't feel right or does feel right. Maybe for some people it is right. For me, it doesn't feel right. Diapers were never meant to be a toilet when they first came out.
One of my mentors, in business and stuff and life really, worked for Pampers for...it's either 25 or 35 years. I always get it mixed up, but he has like patents for certain diaper designs and everything. He was way up in it, and he told me that diapers were first invented − disposable diapers in the early 60s − to help make it more convenient so moms could get out of the house and have to do less laundry. This was the beginning of the whole, really the early beginnings of feminist movement, everything else, and female empowerment with getting moms out of the house. The washer and dryer helped with that as well.
But this invention, so at first nobody wanted disposable diapers, and he told me this when we had our chats about diapers. I thought they were evil, and I wanted to know why and when they came about. I do have a whole podcast episode on a brief history of diapers, and that is episode number 24. But today, I'm going to talk about it a little bit different way. Basically, he told me that they invented them as convenient tools for parents, for moms specifically, but I don't think that they ever meant for them to be full-time toilets. At that time, parents were using diapers as a backup, and they were using cloth. Cloth diapers have only generally been around commercially for a couple hundred years. That, in the vast expanse of human history, is a small blip, right? What did they do before that?
Well, I talk about that in the other show episode about the brief history of diapers. But basically, yeah, if it were going to be inconvenient to potty the baby during nomadic travels or certain like really cold climates, then they would use a backup on the baby just in case, but it was never a full-time toilet. We just didn't have the equipment or the tools for that. You could only go so far with mosses and furs.
Over the course of human evolution, we invented these convenient little things called cloth diapers, muslin, flour sack type stuff, and they were very loosely fitting, and it was really just until the child began to walk, when we could actually totally train them onto a toilet, and we would use it as a backup. It was for when the baby wasn't quite able to do it themselves yet, and when they became old enough to walk, then the backup would go away.
Today, I want to challenge you to re-address your own belief system about diapers. The purpose of a diaper, is it for a backup or a toilet? And, who made it a toilet in the first place? Well, that would be those big bad diaper companies, and they're not all bad, and I sure hope they have good intentions, but it's bad for the environment, and that's what I'm saying here. I am not going to diaper shame any parent, but I am going to shame the diaper companies, because they're ruining the environment.
Here's my point, you guys. The purpose of a diaper is − and always was when they first came out − to be a backup, not a toilet. Those companies which − who would like to have your money for four, or five, and six years of diapering your child day and night, pull-ups included − would like for you to believe that the diaper is supposed to be a toilet, and have exquisitely marketed their way in to change your entire culture to believe this myth.
This is not good for your baby. You can look at my scientific report blog post on that. Toilet training after two is not good for your baby. This is not good for the environment. 24 billion diapers land filled a year that never biodegrade. And this is not good for your relationship with them. You miss out on this key opportunity to communicate and converse with your child and to really give them self esteem and dignity that they are born with and wanting. They want to have good hygiene. They want all of this stuff.
We can directly support them in being extremely confident, self-efficient, independent, and confident children through teaching them at developmentally appropriate ages, which happens to be as they age, Montessori frame of thought is 12 to 18 months, is the sensitive period for this task of toilet independence, starting and finishing happening then, and that's what we've always done since diapers were around. And before diapers, when they would wriggle and fuss, we would just point and shoot. We would do what is called EC. Or we would use, as we became more modern and modern, we use a backup, but it never was intended to be a toilet until the diaper companies came along and thought, “Wow, we can make billions of dollars through having kids in diapers longer and longer.”
Now, let's circle back to my mentor. When I told him about EC and I told him about how parents are now choosing to start at birth − at least by 18 months, wrapping everything up by 18 months in most ideal situations − it blew his mind. He couldn't even talk to me for a few days. When we came back around, he was like, “Wow, I really honestly thought we were helping making things more convenient for moms by giving them ages and stages, and letting them move into the next stage of diaper, but what I didn't think about is what was good for the mom, and what was good for the baby, and the cost of it for the mom, and the impact on the environment, and all that.”
The point of this episode 48 is the purpose of the diaper is a backup, not a toilet. Once you can make that paradigm shift, and go, “Okay, I'm going to put this diaper on my baby, but I'm going to stay aware of their elimination.” Which is the spirit of EC, even if you're not pottying them. “I'm going to stay aware of this, and I'm going to use this as a backup until I learn how to do EC, or until I decide to do potty training, or until I...or while I'm busier, or making dinner, or attending to my other kid, or while we're in the car. It's going to be a backup for when we possibly will miss each other, and it's not any longer going to be used as a toilet in my house.” Some use as a backup at night because I want my baby to get a lot of sleep, and I think that it's best for this to be there as a backup for, you know, those nights when he doesn't come up dry in the morning. That kind of thing.
Hopefully, that makes sense. I also want to offer you a few resources. There is a blog post that I wrote called The Paradigm Shift, or something to that effect. The diaper is no longer a toilet when you start doing EC, it's now a backup. I want you to read that if you're interested, and then I also want to tell you about a biodegradable diaper that has just come out that I am using in my own household. It will biodegrade with their instructions in 75 days average if you follow the instructions and if it doesn't have poop in it, which if you're doing EC, usually you don't have poopy diapers. Yay, win, win, win.
This is called Dyper, D-Y-P-E-R. I am an ambassador of theirs only because I use it, and I actually want everybody to get it. And hey, they offer me a reward if I send anybody their way, so just note that if you do follow my link it will be benefiting me so that I can help give more and more information about EC to others and keep this business going. You can click on it if you want. I'll put it in the show notes, but it's godiaperfree.com/dyper, D-Y-P-E-R. The reason I say that is I want to be transparent about that.
I don't ever promote anything that I don't use or love for EC. And I have to say, you guys, this is game changing. Biodegradable diaper that doesn't leak, that shows an indicator on it when it's wet, so you can check without having to constantly take off your baby's diaper, or they're wet already, and that can go back into the earth, and is made of bamboo fibers. And by the way, their wipes are amazing too. I have been yearning for something like this, one that actually works, for so long. And guys, you can get technical and nitpicky about, “Oh, well maybe it doesn't biodegrade perfectly in my back garden. Do I need special whatever?” On their website, they talk about responsibility with diapers and how to deal with the waste.
But it is an improvement, a vast improvement versus any other diaper out there, and including the intense resources we use to launder cloth diapers, just saying. There is no perfect solution, but if you want a better disposable option, then definitely check out Dyper, and use that D-Y-P-E-R, Dyper, as a backup, not a toilet. If you're doing cloth diapering that is great, and you can use these biodegradable ones as a backup at night if that helps you all to get more sleep, but I just wanted to offer that to you, and let you know that there are other options there, and that cloth is always, always a great idea as well. I support you in whatever kind of diaper you want to use. It's your decision.
The point is with EC, the diaper is no longer a toilet once you start and commit to EC. It is now a backup, and that is the punch line. Okay, so I probably didn't need to spend a whole 10 minutes talking about all those details, but I really wanted to sink in you guys. We have been taught in our diapering culture that they are toilets, and they just simply never were meant to be, and our babies aren't designed for them to be. Even a horse walks around with a poop bag on parades and stuff, and it tries to catch it all. That's kind of like a diaper. Why would we want to do that to our kids? All right, not for long anyway.
Okay, so we have a tip from one of our readers in Estonia, Kaia. She began EC at birth, and her baby's age was 11 months old when she sent me this tip. She has a website. She's an artist. I will link to it in the show notes, because I cannot pronounce it. I think it's kaiaotstak.planet.ee. She has beautiful artwork, definitely check her out.
This is her tip, and I'll leave you with this. “My first tip is that at the beginning don't do much reading on EC, just acknowledge that it is possible.” It's like what we're talking about today, this paradigm shift. It's possible. “Simplicity helps you to focus and find your inner wisdom and guidance. Your intuition leads you in the best way and you're more focused on your own baby. Afterwards the readings on the topic will help you to overcome the new obstacles − especially the psychological ones, and it's good to know what might happen in the future.” For that you guys, listen to my podcast. When you get into new obstacles, definitely get my book Go Diaper Free. Cause she has it, I'm just saying.
“My second tip [from Kaia] is that you should make a firm decision to follow EC, if you want to do this. When you know what you want, then the baby will definitely follow you. When you're uncertain, then the baby will receive mixed messages and will not know what is actually expected. She senses your hesitation." Oh my gosh, Kaia, you nailed it on both of your tips. Thank you so much for those.
Yeah, that's the end of this podcast you guys. You've been listening to the Go Diaper Free Podcast with Andrea Olson. Oh, by the way, I want you to go over to the website real quick, to the blog, godiaperfree.com/48, and in the comments, I want you to tell me what you think about the diaper being a backup versus a toilet, and I want you to tell us if you have anything to add to that, or any questions about this concept. Or did this concept blow your mind? Are you so excited now? We have great conversations over there. Please join us, and again, this is the end of the show, and I'll see you next time. Thanks so much for being here. I'm Andrea with Go Diaper Free.
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 12 yo) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)