For many parents, disposable babies’ diapers are a convenience they can’t afford to go without. However, if you’re an eco-conscious parent you could be faced with the dilemma of using a product that is not environmentally friendly. Which leads you on a search for alternatives to diapers.
Techniques such as Elimination Communication and items such as cloth diapers, undies, and leggings are alternatives you can explore. While not as easy as putting on a disposable diaper, these alternative solutions are natural, so environmentally friendly. Plus, you’ll never have to stress about running out of disposable diapers!
- 9 Alternatives to Diapers
- Common reasons for wanting to find alternatives to diapers
- When is the Best Time to Start Looking for Alternatives to Diapers?
- What Can You Do if You Run Out of Diapers?
- How to Start Practicing Elimination Communication
9 Alternatives to Diapers
1. Practice Elimination Communication (EC)
Elimination Communication is nothing new. This infant toilet-training technique was used by different societies many years ago while it’s still a method used today in areas with limited resources. This concept, which is also known as natural infant hygiene, relies on recognizing your baby’s cues and timing when they want to go to the toilet.
This method can be introduced to your newborn. With consistent practice, you can train your little ones to use a toilet by taking them to the potty whenever they want to relieve themselves. Two physicians, Dr. Jeffery Bender and Dr. Rosemary She, experimented with the EC technique when their third baby arrived. They wanted to avoid using products not ecologically sustainable and go diaper-free as much as possible. Their experiment was successful and they’re now avid advocates of using EC with babies.
I explore this concept further down in the article and discuss how it can be practiced. You can also read Ingrid Bauer’s book, “Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene” which explains the EC concept in full detail. She explains how parents can go diaper-free naturally, relying on their baby’s natural hygiene instinct.
2. Use Undies, Pants, Leggings
When practicing Elimination Communication (EC), it’s good to have undies, pants, and legging warmers on hand. Undies such as the Tiny Undies Small Baby Underwear can be used for babies from 6 months old. They’re 100% cotton and free of any harmful chemicals. And, they’re designed to fit tiny bottoms and small waists.
Pants for babies and toddlers teaches your little one to become more aware of their bodily functions. They’ll learn quickly to associate the uncomfortable feeling of wearing soiled pants with not using the potty in time. The Hudson Baby Unisex Cotton Pants and Leggings can be used from newborn up to toddlerhood. They’re made with ultra-soft 100% cotton and are machine-washable.
Leggings are an alternative to baby pants. The Zando Infant Soft Seamless Tights are suitable for both smaller and older babies. They’re made with a blend of cotton, nylon, and spandex, making them stretchy for ultimate comfort. The ribbed waist minimises pressure around your baby’s belly.
3. Allow Baby to Be Naked
Allowing your baby to be naked while at home is a good way of honing your observation skills. By laying them on a waterproof blanket, your baby can move around uninhibited while you practice EC by tuning into your baby’s cues.
When your baby starts to show signs of needing to pee or poop, pick them up and take them to the potty. They’ll eliminate naturally while being held over the toilet.
The COZUMO Baby Waterproof Bed Pad is large enough to use when letting your baby have tummy time while being naked. This 3-layer bed pad will stay leakproof, absorbing urine whenever accidents do happen. Changing pads are also a good alternative and you can choose between brands, such as Hatch or Keekaroo, Bumbo or Skip Hop types.
4. Use Cloth Diapers
Reusable cloth diapers are the go-to for many eco-conscious parents who don’t want to use disposable nappies. These diapers are also very useful when implementing the EC technique. When your baby experiences wetness after peeing in the cloth diaper, it increases their awareness of elimination.
Cloth diapers are reusable and modern designs mean you no longer need to fuss with sharp pins and bulky materials. The Anamababy Adjustable Waterproof Washable Pocket Cloth Diapers are made with chemical-free suede materials on the inside which wicks away wetness, keeping your baby dry and comfortable.
Make sure you use one of the best diaper bags for cloth diapers whenever you’re out and about with your baby!
5. Potty Train Your Baby
Potty training can start from day one when using the EC method. It’s a good idea to have a potty specifically designed for smaller babies such as the BabyBjorn Smart Potty. You’ll initially start by holding your smaller baby over the potty for elimination. The bowl size makes it easy to position your little one comfortable while catching pee or poop.
Dressing your baby in leg warmers is another way of keeping your little one warm while freeing them from wearing pants. You can also use them if your baby is wearing cloth diapers or undies. Leg warmers, used in conjunction with EC, means your baby’s legs stay warm while making it easier for them to use the potty when they need to.
The Elesa Miracle Baby Toddler Leg Warmers are recommended for babies from 6 to 36 months old. They’re soft to wear, don’t bunch up when worn, and protect your baby’s knees when they start crawling.
6. Use Infant Wrap Carriers to Wear Your Baby
One of the ways to learn your baby’s elimination timing and cues is by carrying them in infant wrap carriers. When you wear your baby, close contact will help you to notice your baby’s own rhythms. You’ll also be able to pick on movements and gestures that indicate your baby wants to pee or poop.
When a baby wants to eliminate, they start to squirm and throw their arms around. Sometimes, their faces go red and they’ll even start to grimace if they’re close to doing a poo. By being aware of these signs, you’ll be able to remove your baby from the wrap and take them to the potty.
The Boba Wrap Baby Carrier works well for babies up to 3 months old and is designed to be comfortable for both mom (or dad) and baby.
7. Make Your Own Temporary Diapers
This alternative requires being creative with materials you have at home for making temporary diapers. Your cotton dishcloths become handy here and can be used to wrap around your baby’s bottom, fastening with a hair scrunchie. You could also use your baby’s burp cloth for smaller babies or swaddle blankets for older babies.
The Upsimples Baby Muslin Swaddle Blanket is made with a blend of 70% bamboo and 30% cotton which is breathable and soft. By using a make-shift belt made from the waist of an old pair of pants, you can keep the temporary diaper in place. Here’s how many swaddle blankets you should buy.
8. Take Advantage of Training Pants
Training pants are very useful to have on hand when practicing EC with your baby. They also save you from having to buy disposable diapers when toilet training your older toddler.
The reusable Lamaze Organic Girls’ Baby Training Pants are made with 100% organic cotton which is breathable and comfy to wear for babies from 18 months old. An absorbent padding insert also helps when there are minor accidents.
Most training pants are designed for babies older than 12 months but if you want to start using the EC method as soon as possible use these Maxibaby Waterproof Potty Training Pants. They’re available for babies from newborn to 4 years old.
9. Use Waterproof Underwear
Waterproof underwear worn over undies or cloth diapers will help to contain any accidents while your baby is becoming aware of their bodily functions. It also means you don’t have to worry about leaks while out and about with your baby.
The DAPPI Waterproof 100% Diaper Nylon Pants have an elasticized waist with soft spandex leg openings. They’re machine washable and come in small, medium, and large sizes. This reusable option is great when using temporary “homemade” diapers!
Common reasons for wanting to find alternatives to diapers
One of the main reasons parents seek out alternatives to diapers is the fact that these baby products aren’t environmentally friendly. Research shows that in 2018 over 4.1 million tonnes of disposable diapers (including adult types) contributed to 1.4 percent of the total waste disposed of at landfills.
Another reason you may be looking for disposable diapers alternatives is your local store has run out of them! This has happened a few times during the Covid-19 pandemic. Strict lockdown regulations also meant less opportunities to dash out to the shops. Parents are also looking for ways to save money.
When is the Best Time to Start Looking for Alternatives to Diapers?
Deciding when to start looking for alternatives to diapers really depends on your approach to potty training your baby. If you’ve decided to start the EC method from newborn, you’ll need to use undies, cloth diapers, and waterproof underwear while you and your baby adapt to this concept.
Some parents choose to wait until their baby is a bit older before implementing EC or changing from disposable diapers to training pants or other alternatives mentioned in this article. It’s vital to ensure your baby is comfortable with switching over to alternatives if you decide to do so when your little one is older. At no time, must your baby feel confused, ashamed, or frightened when learning to eliminate without using disposable diapers.
Another time you may decide to find alternatives, is when you start to realize the negative impact disposable diapers have on our natural environment. Watch this video which talks about this impact.
What Can You Do if You Run Out of Diapers?
I believe every parent has faced times when they realized there are no more diapers in the house when doing a change. Instead of panicking, you can use a make-shift diaper by using your kitchen dishcloth or even an old T-shirt will do the trick. Plan ahead for this eventuality and have a few cloth diapers in the cupboard. Make sure you also have some waterproof undies on hand.
The other option is to start practicing EC. Let your baby sleep on a waterproof blanket overnight and make sure you catch the first pee of the morning by holding your baby over the potty or toilet. You could also give your baby naked time and use this as an opportunity to observe for cues indicating your baby wants to pee or poop.
How to Start Practicing Elimination Communication
The key to starting practicing Elimination Communication is patience and making use of your observation skills. Your baby will need time to understand and be aware of their own bodily functions. You can’t rush this process at all! You’ll need to accept that accidents will happen and reprimanding your baby is a definite no-no.
To help you cope with the initial stages of using the EC method, it’s vital to be prepared. Make sure you have the following available:
- Undies, pants, leggings, leg warmers, waterproof underwear, and cloth diapers.
- Waterproof blanket or bed pad.
- Baby potty (if you’re not using the normal toilet)
- Baby wrap of carrier (if you intend to practice baby wearing in the early months)
The next step is to understand your baby’s natural elimination timing. This is where your observation skills come to the fore. Babies most commonly decide to pee and/or poop at the following times:
- When they wake up in the morning
- After or during feeding
- When they’ve been in a stroller
- After a car journey
Use your baby’s naked time to observe them while they play. This way, you can pick up on typical signals that indicate they need to eliminate. Listen to your own intuition too and if you “sense” your baby needs to pee, you’re often right. Take them to the potty and encourage them to pee.
You could opt to use only the best organic diapers available on the market when looking for an alternative to conventional disposable diapers. However, there are awesome alternatives such as practicing EC as a way of not using diapers that aren’t environmentally friendly. These alternatives will also save you money in the long run.
Last update on 2023-01-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API