baby

Cindy won't put her 15-week-old baby in nappies. And she wants you to understand why.

Queensland mum Cindy Lever doesn’t put her baby girl in nappies. She waits till 15-week-old Chloe lets her know she wants to go to the toilet.

“Her signals that she needs to go to the toilet are very, very vocal now,” Lever explains. “She will carry on for quite some time until I eventually respond to her and take her.”

If Lever takes Chloe to the toilet and she doesn’t need to go, Chloe will let her know.

“She will arch her back against me and kick her legs straight out, and so we walk away,” she explains.

“I’m not forcing her. People seem to think that I’m trying to do something that’s not natural for a baby. But it is actually natural for a baby to tell you when they need to wee and not want to sit in wet, dirty nappies.”

Chloe has been almost entirely nappy-free since birth. Lever has been reading her signals all that time. It’s a process known as elimination communication, used in many cultures around the world.

That’s why Lever, a journalist, was so surprised that her story caused such a huge stir when she shared her story earlier this week.

Lever with Chloe when she was five weeks old. Image via Cindy Lever.

"All the comments I read yesterday were negative," she tells Mamamia. "And I was shocked by the comments. Most people didn’t understand. One person said, 'If you’re trying to toilet train, why are you using the sink?' That’s just ignorance.

"First of all, it’s not toilet training. It’s responding to a baby’s need to go to the toilet. It generally leads to early toilet training, but that's not the objective. It’s just about meeting my baby's needs."

Lever thinks some of the negative reaction might be due to the photo of her holding her baby over the bathroom sink.

"She’s still tiny," she explains. "It’s not really practical to be holding her over the toilet. When we're out I do, but at home, she likes to look at herself in the mirror and she likes to look at me in the mirror. I can see her expression and read what’s going on with her and her body.

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"Also, there's less chance of mess, because I can control the placement of her. There's less chance of wee going everywhere."

As for the poo visible in the photo, Lever says she just wipes the sink after Chloe has been.

"It’s very clean. I am quite fanatical about cleanliness so I’m fanatical about cleaning up after she’s been. And because she’s breastfed, the poos are few and far between. When you breastfeed, most of what the baby gets, the baby consumes."

Nappies aren't necessary with elimination communication. Image via iStock. 

Lever used elimination communication with her son, who is now 10. She didn't do it from birth, but her son was still toilet trained by the age of one.

Lever says it takes "a lot of energy and commitment", but not necessarily more than other things.

"If you breastfeed on demand, that’s time-consuming and you need to be available for your baby all the time," she adds.

"With a young baby, certainly, they wee a lot, so you’re having to go to the toilet quite often throughout the day. In the morning, when I’m getting my 10-year-old ready for school and trying to get breakfast and so on, it’s all quite chaotic. I have to be constantly stopping what I’m doing to attend to her, so that’s not going to be for everybody."

Lever says she was speaking recently to a friend who also used elimination communication with her child.

"She said, 'Oh, it’s so exciting when you catch those poos, isn’t it?' And it is. It does give you that really deep connection with your baby.

"Being able to help her in that way is really satisfying. And knowing that you are tuned in to your baby in that way is great."

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