If you step between two parked cars in a trendy New York neighbourhood one day soon and your foot falls in a puddle of urine, do not automatically curse the city's legions of dog owners. A baby might have done it.
Parents letting their infants go diaper-free is the latest hipster trend, The New York Times reports. (The story is worth clicking on just for the photo at the top.)
It's called "elimination communication," and it involves developing a sort of Pavlovian response in babies that teaches them to urinate and defecate on command. Whenever a baby starts to squirm, or actually squirt, the parent makes a grunting or sibilant sound that the infant soon learns to associate with going to the bathroom.
Once the association is established, the parents of "EC-ed" babies can hold their baby over a bowl, a toilet or a sink, or between parked cars if they are outdoors and want a little privacy, make their special sound, and the child will evacuate whatever needs evacuating at that moment.
The practice doesn't eliminate the need for diapers altogether. Many EC-ing parents still use them at night or when they go out to restaurants with their child. On the other hand, if you are close friends with a parent practising elimination communication and they visit your house with their baby-in-training, you may find yourself asked to provide a bowl. Or worse.
"I have absolutely been at parties and witnessed people putting their baby over the sink," the Times quotes one mother as saying.
Proponents of the practice argue that parents in developing countries don't rely on diapers but still manage to avoid accidents by using variations of elimination communication. "Many EC'ing families experience first-hand what families in traditional cultures around the world have known for centuries: that by the age at which American parents are told to watch for supposed signs of 'readiness' for toilet-learning, their children have already achieved toilet independence," the website diaperfreebaby.org says.
Still, the sink?