for information on "natural infant hygiene" (aka "elimination communication" or "diaper free") go to http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/.
for the last 6 weeks, i have been putting my baby to bed with no diaper. that's right, no diaper...just her bare bum and a top.
many of my friends/family know that with my first child, i enjoyed the benefits of placing my infant over the potty to catch his poos...(he pooed several times a day---after breastfeeding--- which is a lot of ass-wiping not to mention a lot of laundry when cloth diapering). i realized quickly the benefits of getting him to poo on a potty; namely, it resulted in less orange/stinky laundry, no shitty diaper leaks (mums, you know what i'm talking about...orange poo that comes UP the back of the diaper dirtying their entire outfit which gets IN their hair as you take the soiled onsie OFF, not to mention the necessary mid-day bath that follows), and perhaps most importantly, a cleaner bum for the baby (imagine having to sit in your own stool for even minutes at time? YUCK). i was really overwhelmed with my first child so i didn't worry a lot about catching pees...if i caught them, great.
i caught his poos in the middle of the night with my first-born too until he stopped pooping at night...sometime between his 5th and 6th month. again, it was easier holding him over the pot in the middle of the night than changing a diaper at night. but i still diapered him at night otherwise. i was so sleep deprived, i didn't have it in me to experiment with no-diapers. once he stopped pooing at night, i stopped attempting to catch anything at night, savouring the sleep instead and letting the diaper do the work.
with my second baby, i decided to take "diaper-free" more seriously. i re-read "Diaper-Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygeine" by Ingrid Bauer and when baby was about 2 months old, decided i was ready to try going diaper-free at night. i anticipated a lot of stress...i got my bed totally prepared for countless leaks (an absorbent sheep-fleece, towels, extra blankets, pre-fold diapers, etc) closed my eyes tight with my daughter laying peacefully beside me and wondered: is this going to work? why am i crazy and insist on doing everything the difficult way?
imagine my surprise when on my first night, i did not miss a single pee? and imagine my surprise when i woke up from one of the better sleeps i'd had since she was born?
here's how it works. if you're a breastfeeding parent who co-sleeps (whether the baby is in the bed, on a mattress beside your bed, or in a crib beside your bed), you know that your baby wakes several times a night to feed anyway. in general, babies don't pee while asleep. the trick is, and it's simple: when your baby wakes to feed, hold baby over a receptacle on the side of your bed and she will pee. my daughter is now just over 3 months and i haven't used a diaper at night since (with the exception of the square pre-fold diapers i put under her bottom in case i miss a pee...which gets changed out swiftly and without fuss once i realize i've missed, which is usually almost right away).
since i started, i have had misses. mostly because i sometimes can't rouse myself out of sleep in time to pick her up (although, at least 90% of the time, our sleep cycles are identical and i usually wake up a minute or two before she needs to feed). but i have a sheep fleece (that prevents urine from soaking through to the mattress) on which we sleep so if she pees before i get her (usually a minute or two passes before i realize she's awake and hasn't waited for me to pick her up), i simply pull out the cotton placed under her bum (like i said earlier, a prefold cotton diaper, an old towl, etc) and slip another one under her bum. DONE. i don't even have to turn on a light. or even sit up for that matter. even holding her on the potty does not require me turning on a light (i use the light emitting from my clock radio) because the metal bowl i use as her toilet is huge. turning on the light rouses her and makes it more difficult for her to settle so i'm thankful i don't have to use it.
even the most advanced cloth diaper and/or disposable diaper leaks. when i used diapers, i'd say that at least once or twice a week my daughter would leak and i'd have to change her sleeper. which is disruptive and annoying. now, there are no leaks...(just occasional misses, which i've explained is resolved quickly and efficiently).
further, she cries less at night...which directly results in me sleeping more at night...crying is almost eliminated entirely! she has always struggled with gas; her sleeper plus diaper prevented her from kicking/straightening her legs in attempts to pass the gas. such restriction set her off in a rage literally EVERY SINGLE NIGHT AT 3 AM (the recovery from which sometimes took an hour or two depending on how upset she got) until we went diaper/pj free. she has not had a single 2 hour gas-fit since we made the change. (the very act of holding a babies legs up over a bowl helps to pass gas in itself...doing this a few times a night helps the gas pass gradually over the night rather than accumulating to the point of unbearable discomfort). when she doesn't cry, i don't stress: when i don't stress, i get back to sleep right away.
also, imagine sitting in a urine soaked, unbreathable plastic diaper all night (whether it's an expensive pocket diaper that uses microfibre...an oil/petro-chemical product...or a disposable diaper, which uses plastic). imagine how much nicer it is to let your bits and pieces air out while you slumber! especially for a girl...think of pathogens that thrive in moist environments, short urethras, etc.
finally, i'll mention the obvious...going diaper free at night reduces the number of diapers you need. if you cloth diaper, this means several diapers and several changes (unless you're using a pocket diaper like fuzzy bunz, in which case, you'll still save diapers but not as many). if you use disposables, this method will save you approximately 2-3 diapers a night, depending on whether your little one poos, is a heavy wetter, etc. this results in huge $$ savings.
anyway the point of my post is NOT to give the impression that "my way is the best" or to cast judgement on those that use diapers at night. the use of diapers is the norm in our society and there is little wisdom to help mums with any alternatives. in fact, the use of disposables has only become the norm in the past several decades...humans have been around a lot longer than that. the point of my post is to offer another perspective and to help out any mums who might be interested in trying this out. if anyone reading this wants to learn more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and i'll do my best to shed some light.
i thought i'd add that my mattress has never been soaked once, and i've been doing it for 6 weeks. i even did it when i was out of town for a week. i've never been shat on (though i've been peed on once...not really a big deal, pee is sterile and the incident occurred in the morning when i was too lazy to move my ass and get her on the potty in time). my daughter is used to our rhythm: wake up (she does not cry...she merely shimmies and i'm usually waking up from a sleep cycle anyway---see above re: coinciding sleep cycles---), drowsily pee on a potty, drink milk, and drift back to sleep. all of this happens almost without waking in a matter of minutes. if you're waking up already to breastfeed, it's only one other step that literally takes an additional 15 seconds. it's brilliant really, and so simple. many cultures have been doing it this way since the dawn of time. i often think my grandma and her 12 children...in her little village in greece, there were no diapers. i imagine she must have done it something like this...too bad i never got to meet her and ask...