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The Truth About Natural Infant Hygiene

There are 2 articles that I’ve been seeing on my Facebook feed for days now. It’s about the ‘Dangers of Early Potty Training’. I tried my best to let it go and not join the ongoing debate in the comments section between moms who are Pro and Anti-Natural Infant Hygiene especially since the man who wrote the article is a Pediatric Urologist but it got me thinking… Why should I be afraid to speak my mind when I know in my heart that I chose this path for my child because the practice is nurturing, loving, trust building and natural? The exact opposite of what most people of today look at NIH (Natural Infant Hygiene). I am from the Philippines and not all my countrymen are aware of Natural Infant Hygiene. It is often frowned upon and misunderstood. I am a Certified Natural Infant Hygiene Consultant by Go Diaper Free and my NIH and Potty Training classes for the year are already set. If I will keep my thoughts in the boundaries of my classes and Private Group, who will defend my advocacy against these speculations?

Instead of answering concerns and questions one by one, I will give my very best in answering all of them through this article.

Just like with breastfeeding. The extended breastfeeding mom is not better than the formula feeding mom. Nor is the mom who makes sure their child gets vaccinated on time when compared to the mom who chooses not to vaccinate at all. The exact same thing applies with Natural Infant Hygiene.

Here are the 2 articles that I’ve mentioned earlier:

Dr. Steve Hodges on Potty Training

The Dangers Of Potty Training Too Early (Dr. Steve Hodges)

Now, before showing articles that is a rebutall to Dr. Hodges statements, I’d like to share my personal take on the matter first.

If you will read the first article that I shared carefully, Dr. Hodges message is more about poor diet and constipation than early potty training. It is a sad reality that just because he is a doctor, whatever it is that he says is automatically considered a fact when their truth is not all doctors have the same approach towards potty training.  Just like with breastfeeding, there will be doctors who would ask their patients to stop nursing if the mom is sick and recommend a particular formula milk but then there will be doctors who would advise to continue breastfeeding because the mother’s quality of milk is not lessened because of her sickness. It is the exact same thing with NIH. There will be doctors who would vouch for NIH (Natural Infant Hygiene) and there will be those who choose to not see the benefits of it.

Both articles are clearly about bad potty training and mind you, there are so many methods. In both articles from the same author, it’s been generalized to the point that moms who are successful at NIH (child is already potty trained before their first birthday for example) are easily shamed. His statement that “Anyone under 3 can’t tell you when they need to go so they hold it” is a proof that he doesn’t have a first hand experience on how NIH is practiced. I’d also like to point out that in his article, he is basically saying that once a child is already potty trained, the decision on when to eliminate will be entirely up to them. This is something that I strongly disagree with. Even if their sons and daughters are already 18 years of age, they are of no exception. When a family goes for a long drive, they are remind them to use the restroom because the next acceptable receptacle area might take awhile. If you’d compare it to eating it’s like saying, “If you teach your child to eat on his own early in his life, he will starve to death because he will eventually forget to eat.” That won’t happen to the child correct? Because as a responsible parent, you will be present to parent around the subject, always making sure that the needs of your child is being met. Not all mothers all over the world has access to diapers but their sons and daughters do not pee all over them. How do you think that’s possible? It is through Natural Infant Hygiene, Dr. Hodges.

I’d also like to share that before writing this, I had a conversation about the matter with my good friends because one of them shared this article, ‘The Dangers of Potty Training Early’ on their newsfeed. I asked their permission if I could share how our healthy conversation went and thankfully, they agreed so here it is:

Angela wrote: “I wanted to do EC (Elimination Communication) with my kid after he was born, but wasn’t able to do so because he consistently peed or pooped a few seconds into breastfeeding, and I didn’t want to take him away from the breast to potty train him. Now that he’s some months away from 2 years old, I’m starting to look into the potty training conversation again. One side says to start at age 2 or 3, while some say to start later and let the child initiate the potty training themselves. If you have already potty trained your kid, remember to give them many chances throughout the day to use the toilet. Don’t wait for your kid to let you know since most kids would rather hold in pee or poop instead of interrupting their play. If you are like me, still deciding when is the right time, then this article will give you confidence in delaying until your child asks you to teach him or her. The author, a pediatric urologist, says it’s fine to wait several years to allow the bladder and rectum grow bigger.” While another friend, Bonnie left a comment and said: “We were supposed to start potty training but Sean is giving out signs that he doesn’t want to. He is already 2.5 years old. Although sometimes he verbally tells me that he wants to poop but the truth is he will only pee. He doesn’t like it when he is not wearing a nappy. There was a time wherein I took his nappy off and told him that if you have to poop or pee tell me okay? After while, he started eliminating (pee) and then he got afraid because he got wet. It was as if he got traumatized so since then, he doesn’t like it when I don’t put a nappy on him on. I didn’t want to force him to hold it if he needs to go just for the sake of training him. I know of babies that’s already potty trained as early as 1. But I think Sean is still not ready. Oh well…”

This was my response to them:

Natural Infant Hygiene is my advocacy so I’d like to share some things that I believe is often overlooked or misunderstood. The “readiness” issue has been going on since 1962. It started with this one study that says “Wait til the child is ready and take it slow. Let the child lead this process.”  A note on the date of publication, it was 1962 just a year or 2 after disposables were invented. Disposable Diapers were invented on 1959, patented on 1961. Makes sense? Readiness is a myth created by diaper companies which was associated with a pediatrician in 1962 and was promoted by T.berry Brazelton, head of the Pampers Institute. Also, according to New York Times in the year 1999, 92% of children in 1957 were toilet trained by 18 months (1 year and 6 months) before disposable diapers were invented in 1957.  This means almost 100% of children were Potty Trained between 9-18 months which is why I strongly believe that if the children were capable then, they are definitely still capable now. Babies are born signalling. I refrain from using the term infant potty training because it can easily have others raise their eyebrows on the matter. I think what most people in today’s generation does not know is how Natural Infant Hygiene is gentle and that having a potty trained child is simply the inevitable outcome of giving opportunities for the child to use the potty instead of allowing them to use a diaper as their walking toilet from birth. If I were to describe Natural Infant Hygiene or Elimination Communication as you call it in one sentence it would be, “Lovingly changing a child’s diaper as soon as they soil themselves.” That’s it. If you will come to think of it, how come the mothers in the mountains are able to keep themselves dry despite their child being close to their bodies all day? How come in the year 1957, our moms are already toilet trained between 12-18 months? Did our grandma’s “trained” them to use the potty? They didn’t because there was no waterproof cover, they had no choice but to change into a fresh nappy as soon as baby wets themselves or else they will have a puddle on the floor. They had a bowl/potty/arinola ready and would assist the baby there. The child eventually gets it that “oh pee goes in the potty” without the pressure, reward (cookie, stickers etc.) or even consequences for not using the potty. This is the reason why between 9-18 months of age, the babies of 1957 are already potty trained. I ask my clients who are wary to ask their grandparents, “what age did mom started using the potty?” They’d answer, “Oh I don’t quite remember but I could certainly recall that they already know how to use the potty before their first birthday.” When asked about the “process or steps” they went through  to achieve this, they’d indicate the steps that are followed and encouraged when practicing Natural Infant Hygiene. It’s just that, our grandparents do not know that it is how millenials or the people of today call it. Angela, you’ve mentioned that your baby would pee a few seconds after breastfeeding. This is why if a parent would really look into NIH they would know that they could put a tabo/small bowl/wide mouthed mason jar or an empty ice cream tub in between their legs to catch the pee while baby is in a cradle hold so that the bonding between breastfeeding is not interupted and that respect to the child’s space is honored. NIH   is very beautiful. I am smiling while typing this because I remember the days when my own daughter was still so small and we were doing what I just mentioned while in a rocking chair at my mother in law’s house in Marikna. There is absolutely no force required in the process of NIH. People around me would often wonder why my daughter, Mori, is not a cry baby back when she was still very small and I would always give the credit to NIH. Because of it, I was able to get the full trust of my newborn infant. I can tell from her eyes that she is confident that Nanay (Mommy) knows when I am hungry, Nanay knows when I am sleepy, I have a kabag (air in the stomach), I am not feeling well and not just that! My Nanay (Mommy) also knows when I have to use the potty. She is beaming with confidence and that confidence overflowed to me as well. There is more peace in the home because even before the whining starts it has been taken good care of. I understood early on that the need for an infant to cry is not present when the needs of an infant is met on a timely manner and with Bonnie’s situation, her son’s reaction when he urinated and wet himself is very common for his age. It is very understandable because his diaper is the only acceptable receptacle area that he knew since birth. Now I am not saying that “okay, everyone must practice NIH or this is the only correct way or best way.” We all know that there no one perfect way to parenting. I just had to share because it is my heart’s desire that people all over the world, not just the Philippines would know that they have another option aside from using disposables or cloth nappies. That there is also such a thing as NIH and clearly, it is not a new trend and that the best thing about it is that it’s benefits goes way beyond the parent and child but also flows down to mother earth. It is the exact same practice that our grandparents have been doing way before disposable diapers came into the picture.

If you are wondering how my well meaning friends responded afterwards, Bonnie said maybe she is just lost in the process. Not knowing the how to’s really and would like to attend one of my classes since her child is already 2 years old to know more about NIH while Angela whose son is a few months away from turning 2 chose to lean more on waiting for his child to initiate. She’d rather wait for her child to see her using the toilet and if he shows interest, she would explain it to him but if not then that is fine too.

In the end, Bonnie opened her heart to the idea of NIH, which I am grateful for. While Angela, a mother who I truly admire since the day I first met her chose a different path.

The point is, it is very easy for mothers to feel guilty or lacking in some areas when it comes to raising their child so when defending NIH I am very careful with my choice of words because no you are not wrong if your heart tells you that you should wait a little longer but if you choose to start now, even if it means starting from the day your child is born, then that is okay too. It is a practice that has been going on for 100,000 of years and you are not in any way damaging your child psychologically or physiologically in the process.

If you’d like to know more about my advocacy, I have classes that’s already set for the year in Metro Manila.

Our next Natural Infant Hygiene (for babies 0-18 months) and Potty Training Class (18 months and up) is this coming April 23, 2017. That’s a Sunday and would last from 1:30PM-5:00PM at The Parenting Emporium in New Manila, Quezon City. To secure yourself a seat, email us at kalinganinanay@gmail.com

For Provincial areas, if you can form a small group of people who can commit into attending, send us an email at kalinganinanay@gmail.com so we can work something out.

Stay updated by liking our Official Page:

Kalinga Ni Nanay on Facebook

Articles that advocates Natural Infant Hygiene:

Jamie Glowacki, Author and Advocate for Children Response To Dr. Hodges Claims

Moorea of Savvy Parenting Support

Books that tackle how other cultures handle pottying from infancy today and during the olden times:

The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff

Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapated To Modern Living by Laurie Boucke

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3 thoughts on “The Truth About Natural Infant Hygiene

  1. Hi! Do you think this will work for kids with cognitive delays like down syndrome or autism? My baby has DS and most kids I have met are not even potty trained at 5 or 6 yrs old. I would very much like to know your thoughts in this. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sarah! I don’t have an experience with children who has down syndrome but Andrea Olson who is my teacher and has Master’s in Psychology mentioned once that it is not impossible, just a little bit different as does feeding, clothing, bathing and communicating with these children. I hope you can attend my class you so you’d have an idea on the how to’s of its practice so I could help you further from there. I would love to be of assistance to your child. Heather Matheny is a coach trainee from Florida and is a BCBA. A BCBA is a board certified individual who is trained to provide and supervise behavior analysis so she constantly works with children who has ASD spectrum and with down syndrome. We both agree that practicing Natural Infant Hygiene with children who has special needs is doable. To her, it would be much more successful because you are not “un-training” a habit. This is actually the reason why she is currently studying to be a Certified Consultant. Kids she works with potty trains at the age of 5-6 just like you’ve mentioned. It’s the first thing that crossed my mind too upon reading what you have to say because applying NIH early on in the child’s life, the better because the parent does not subconsciously teach the child that their nappies are their walking toilet. The transition then to Potty Training would not be as hard. The child won’t wonder why is it that when they reach the magical of 5, there is a sudden change in their rythm/routine. Sara Kremer who is also a Certified Natural Infant Hygiene Consultant shared to me that in Hungary, there is this mom who wrote about NIH. Her child has down syndrome but it didn’t stop her from practicing NIH with her “newborn”. That is how NIH started to spread in Hungary. There is also an Official Down Syndrome website in Hungary that recommends to start NIH with their Down Syndrome child as an infant. She sent me the link but it was in Hungarian. Thankfully there is Google Translate! Here is the link for your reference: https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?act=url&depth=1&hl=en&ie=UTF8&nv=1&prev=_t&rurl=translate.google.hu&sl=hu&sp=nmt4&tl=en&u=http://downegyesulet.hu/olvasosarok/tudastar/szobatisztasag&usg=ALkJrhg2Xtu8yU4W93CXDbYi6NHniDodqw

      Thank you for asking Sarah.

      Like

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