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I’ll Say


Apparently the latest craze in NYC is to let your babies’ freak flags fly by letting them go commando:

When Jada Shapiro decided to raise her daughter from birth without diapers, for the most part, not everyone was amused. Ms. Shapiro scattered little bowls around the house to catch her daughter’s offerings, and her sister insisted that she use a big, dark marker to mark the bowls so that they could never find their way back to the kitchen.

“My sister wasn’t a huge fan,” she said on Thursday.

But “elimination communication,” as the diaper-free method of child-rearing is called, is finding an audience in the hipper precincts of New York City.

Ms. Shapiro, who is a doula, a birth and child-rearing coach, says it is practically now a job qualification to at least be able to offer diaper-free training as an option to clients. Caribou Baby, an “eco-friendly maternity, baby and lifestyle store” on the border of artsy Greenpoint and Williamsburg, has been drawing capacity crowds to its diaper-free “Meetups,“ where parents exchange tips like how to get a baby to urinate on the street between parked cars.

Parents are drawn to the method as a way of preserving the environment from the ravages of disposable diapers, as well as reducing the laundering of cloth diapers and preventing diaper rash. Many of them like the thought that they are rediscovering an ancient practice used in other cultures, though they tend to gloss over the fact that many of those cultures had never heard of Pampers. But mostly, they say, they like feeling more in touch with their babies’ most intimate functions.

I’ve changed my share of diapers. I always felt that doing so got me more than sufficiently “in touch” with my baby’s most intimate functions. I really don’t know what to say about this. Call me nostalgic, but I remember the days when people who had bowls of human feces around the house were considered the sorts of parents you called child services on.

This reminds me a bit of the great Tom Wolfe essay on the “Great Relearning.” At some point people will learn that diapers were greeted as a boon for a reason. My biggest concern is what happens to some of the kids. You know how every now and then you see or hear about someone who is breastfeeding way, way too late? What happens when some parent just doesn’t want to give up on the sense of intimacy they get from catching falling poop in a cereal bowl and decides to delay potty-training until, well, the kid has a really embarrassing moment the first time a friend comes over after school? 


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