Life Without Disposable Nappies – Part 3: Equipment

by Eva

A looong time has passed since we published part 1 & 2 of this series, but I hope you’re still interested to delve a little deeper into EC. Let’s go!

After the Intro to EC (Elimination Communication) and the How To, you might wonder if you need any special stuff to do it. Frankly, it depends on your personal choice. The extent to which you do EC and how is as individual as there are parents on this planet. Since it’s the most natural thing in the world, you don’t really need anything. However, depending on your lifestyle and personal preferences, there is by now quite a lot of stuff out there that can help you integrate EC into your everyday life. For example: Some parents only use regular clothes, an old bowl as a potty, and rest their baby on some towels at night which they change in case there is an accident. Others get all the special EC backups, underwear, clothes, potties… I’ll try and give you a good overview so you can decide what the best way might be for yourself. Every now and then I’ll compare to what we’re doing and why to help guide you through the maze 😉

  • Clothes: Most parents just use regular clothes that are easy to remove (pants, shirts, dresses, tights…). You’ll want to avoid clothes which are complicated to remove, have loads of buttons or snaps and the onion technique (layers ^^). Especially young babies eliminate frequently (sometimes as often as every 10 to 15 mins). If it takes you too long to remove the clothes, at some point you’ll think twice about whether you really want to offer your baby the chance to eliminate or not. Also, while babies do feel that they need to eliminate, they can’t hold it for a very long time yet (after birth it’s very short and it gradually becomes longer as they gain control; at about 4 months you’ll notice that they can actually hold it for a short while) so you might just not be fast enough and it’ll be frustrating for you and your baby. We regularly use washable nappies as backup so we prefer to dress our kids in a nappy, socks, babylegs (a lovely invention), and a shirt/long top/dress. This allows us to take the nappy off or change it really quickly, but our baby won’t get cold.
    There are also special pants – splitpants– which look like normal pants, but they feature a kind of layer system. You can pull the legs apart so they’ll open in the middle and your baby can eliminate without you having to take them off before. For these, the communication between you and your baby should be good already, otherwise it’ll be frustrating. My problem with these is that I haven’t found any that work really well in the sense that they hide everything when baby is living its life and open easily and wide enough when it needs to eliminate. When your child gets older and starts using the potty (in our case at around 18 months), they don’t get the clothes thing yet. So they’ll just sit on the potty and sometimes you’re not right there. From my experience the pants won’t open enough so the kid always ends up wetting them. And I personally don’t want to buy, say, 35 pants so I can change baby 5 times a day. *Rant over* ^^
    And then there are trousers (e.g. Gena pants or Lawah) which basically have a hole in the middle with a piece of fabric attached over it with snaps. The piece of fabric is usually adorned with at least 2 straps which can hold an insert/soaker in place. This way, small accidents are absorbed by the insert. When your baby signals a need, you simply detach the piece of fabric and your baby can eliminate while keeping the pants on. We’ve tried the Lawah and were quite happy with it, but in the end, nappy + babylegs is our favourite system. I do prefer this kind of pant over splitpants, though.
    Something new in this section was released last year I believe. The aENNAs Heldensystem (lit: hero system). It’s basically a three-piece design that consists of knitted pants which also have a hole in the middle, a knitted washable nappy and a slip made the same way that you put over the trousers to avoid accidents. You can leave the nappy off if you’re a great team already and at home; or just use the nappy without the pants, for example, when it’s warm outside. They use only organic wool and they are handmade. The colours and design are beautiful and it looks like an amazing system – just we haven’t tried it yet. But I would love to 🙂
  • EC underwear: When your communication is working really well, you can get trainer underwear, which is basically a normal slip with a reinforced crotch. They’ll hold tiny accidents, but they can’t absorb as much as a soaker. Otherwise there are Mokomidis, which are basically soft elastic belts which hold a soaker in place. You can easily remove one end of the soaker to help your baby eliminate or change it in case it’s wet.
  • Potties (I’m assuming here that you want to do EC with a baby that can’t sit by itself or walk yet – if they already move independently any regular potty is fine): You can get a special EC potty (also called “Asia” potty), but on the other hand any small bowl will do. Ideally, you’ll use a bowl with a rubber inlet at the bottom which is not too narrow at the bottom, because these don’t fall over so easily. It should also have a rounded or wide rim for comfort, and fit comfortably between your thighs so you can use it as well while you’re nursing/feeding. If you also want to do EC at night and have a boy, you might want to consider getting a bowl with a bigger diameter for the night since they tend to do the fountain 😉 Otherwise, many parents just carefully press “it” down a little with a finger to avoid “spills”. If you live in a cold place, you can also get a cover for the rim so your baby’s behind doesn’t touch the cold plastic/metal. There are also regular potties now which consist of two parts: one which is basically the base and a small potty that you can remove and which looks almost like the EC potties.
    When your baby’s done, you empty the potty into the toilet or sink and rinse it with water. Every now and then you can clean it with some household vinegar to make sure that it doesn’t start to smell. Or you clean it after every use – you do as you want 🙂
  • Changing table: If you do EC, you most probably won’t need it. Accidents happen, but you usually won’t have to scrape any dried digested and eliminated food off your baby’s behind. And if your baby eliminates the small business, you quickly change the nappy/soaker and that’s that. You just don’t spend a lot of time changing your baby at regular intervals throughout the day. So you won’t need to have warm water ready, you won’t need a heating lamp, and so on. If you prefer it for comfort, sure, why not. But for us it was an unnecessary investment, because in the end, we hardly ever used it since we change and clean our babies on the spot wherever we are. When you do EC you usually change your baby after every accident. This way they are clean and dry throughout the day which is much better for the skin.
    -> A side note here; we recommend to only ever use water to wash or clean your baby and to avoid wet wipes completely. Wet wipes are really bad for our (yes, for the adults, too ^^) skin, because they contain ingredients that disturb the skin’s delicate flora and it becomes way too moist. Add the warmth that builds up in nappies (or underwear) and the lack of fresh air, and it’s super easy for bacteria and mushrooms to settle (ask any gynaecologist or proctologue to confirm). Our childrens’ skins (apart from the hands) have never seen soap, alcohol, perfumes, artificial ingredients, lotions – and they’re perfect. And when they were still tiny babies or whenever we wanted to pamper or massage them, we just used organic pure almond oil. They’ve never had any allergic reactions, sensitive/rough/red skin, rashes…
    I’ve actually been doing the same for some years now and I’m just as fresh as before. I don’t smell more or less, my hair is beautiful, and I have much less issues with my skin.
    Keep in mind, the skin’s the body’s biggest organ, and the body will absorb everything you put on it. This also (or especially) applies to sun or insect blockers. We recommend to read further on the subject – there is a lot of info out there – and then choose a product with care or alternatively adopt certain behaviours so you won’t need any blocker at all.
    Nowadays, we only put products on our skins you can actually eat 🙂
  • At night: EC obviously only works at night if you’re child is sleeping right next to you, either in its own bed or in your bed (the “family bed” or co-sleeping is something we also really love and might write about in the future). The same applies here as for the paragraph about clothes. If it takes too long to remove the sleeping bag and three layers of clothes, you’re in for a difficult time. Our children always slept in our bed and were wearing either just a shirt and a nappy (in summer), a long nightshirt plus nappy (spring/autumn) or what they would wear during a winter day – wooly shirt/pullover, nappy, babylegs, socks (in winter). We did that in Portugal in the camper when it was 0° C outside and it was just fine. Quite a lot of parents don’t use any backups and they’ll just have their children wear long nightshirts or a pyjama and then prepare the bed in a way that they only need to remove a layer and change the kid quickly in case of an accident. That could be done by adding some blankets to the mattress or several towels. I also recommend you get a mattress protection, it’s worth it. Ours consists of two layers of organic cotton with a waterproof layer made of PUL in between, and we’re very happy with it. Our kids never liked being changed at night so we prefer using nappies.
    And then you just need a potty by the side of your bed and maybe some paper towels in case and you’re good to go.
  • Going out: We feel that if you do EC, you need to take way fewer things with you than most parents. We basically take one spare nappy and some inserts to change plus a plastic bag to store any wet inserts until we’re back home. If you like it fancy, you can also get a very stylish “wetbag” to store any dirty nappies in. Small towels made of fabric or paper can be practical and a bottle of water (which we always carry with us anyway). You can also take a spare set of clothes, pants or babylegs. And that’s basically it. The EC potty is so small that it fits into most bags or backpacks. You can also make a small hole in the rim and attach it to your backpack with a carabiner. We are so comfortable using any other mean to help our kids eliminate that we don’t usually take a potty with us. But again it’s a personal choice.

And I believe that covers it! If I forgot any area of -life with a baby- which would require special equipment, if anything’s missing or if you have a question regarding your personal life situation, do get in touch or leave us a comment and we’ll happily get back to you or adjust the post. Please keep in mind that the above is simply meant to give you ideas – in the end everyone finds the way that works best for them 🙂

In the next post, I’ll be discussing washable nappies in detail as that would take too much space in this post – the different systems, what could be suitable for whom, where to get it, what we’re using, and so on. So keep your eyes peeled!


Note I: I didn’t take the pictures myself. The images of the items were picked randomly. We don’t receive any kind of reward or payment for using these images or for making any product recommendations.

Note II: The language in this post is kept as neutral as possible on purpose to make it harder for people with peculiar preferences to find it. We had some funny comments already in the past, now we’re careful. Thank you for your understanding!

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