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Book Review

by Amanda Alvine

Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene (2nd edition)
By Ingrid Bauer

After going through four printings in its first edition, Diaper Free by Ingrid Bauer is now available from Plume. This second edition brings the topic of elimination communication (EC) to a wider audience without sacrificing any of Bauer's focus on natural, gentle parenting.

The first part of Diaper Free unfolds as a story on an ever-widening stage. "Elimination communication" or "Natural Infant Hygiene" is introduced as the author discovered it with her own children, and then explored as part of "Nature's design for infant care" practiced by individual families. After highlighting some of the benefits that lead people to choose elimination communication, the author examines EC within Western society, pointing out and addressing several "toilet training myths." Finally, Bauer discusses how caregivers around the world have traditionally dealt with pottying, and how EC is being studied and practiced in Western society now.

Once a reader has been drawn in with a host of good reasons to EC, Bauer moves on to the practical side. In the chapter entitled "The Four Tools of Diaper Freedom," she lays out how baby's signals, timing, intuition and parent's cueing work together. Other chapters cover potty positions (pictures included!), EC in daily life situations and in special situations, and dealing with difficulties. The final chapters of the book offer some wisdom applicable to parenting in general, including caring for yourself and gentleness.

As in the first edition, the "Babies are Ready from Birth" sidebar does a neat job comparing so-called "readiness" signs for conventional toilet training with infants' natural readiness to begin using the toilet. The second edition adds a thoughtful response to Brazelton's new take on EC ("Wonderful, but completely impractical in our society"),as well as references to new studies on the drawbacks to delayed potty learning.

Diaper Free can be a useful introduction to EC for parents who are interested in gentle, attached parenting. Bauer's language and her own mothering experience are likely to resonate with parents who have become adept at sifting through what mainstream parenting "experts" say, and her narrative style presentation and matter-of-fact way of dealing with the "hows" make it easy to consider EC as a viable option. New parents and veteran ECers alike can draw inspiration for gentle parenting from the examples and reminders woven through the book. With the text even more clear and polished so that each thought is given the most force and clarity, and several new photographs, Diaper Free, 2nd edition, is a worthwhile investment to loan to friends or give expectant mothers. It retails at $14 (US) wherever Plume parenting books can be found.


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