Cool, edgy parents who hold their babies with one hand have been observing for years that infants are like drunk people. They can barely hold their heads up! They’re always bursting into tears! They’re steady tryin' to suck on titties in public! Now, New Yorkers have found a way to make their children even more like drunk people: They’re teaching them to pee on the street.

But not just on the street (“between parked cars,” as the New York Times described it in a story last Friday); also in parks, behind trees; in their friends’ sinks at parties; in random small bowls strewn all over the floors of their homes.

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.

Really, any place that could conceivably accommodate a small mass.

(Of course there are some rules. "I don’t think you can walk down Fifth Avenue and just let your baby poop on the sidewalk," clarified Ms. Shapiro, a doula. Don't pee on a diamond, baby. Never, ever poop on a face.)

The practice, which preserves the easy “poop anywhere” aspect of diapers while jettisoning the diapers themselves, is called “elimination communication,” which sounds like the title of a boring mandatory all-staff seminar, but is crazy.

The “communication” refers to sounds the baby’s parents parents make (for example "'sss'" or “grunting”) when the child goes to the bathroom. The hope is that, eventually, the sound will serve as a Pavlovian trigger, signaling that the baby should begin pooping now (when he's been held over a giant toilet seat) rather than whenever he feels like it. Ms. Shapiro told the Times her own baby poop genius has mastered the concept by the age of three weeks.

The “elimination” refers to the elimination of waste from the child’s body as he voids his bowels into a plastic chamber pot, and also the elimination of dignity from his life twelve years from now, when cruel bunkmates print out and distribute a New York Times photographer’s photographs of him, wrinkly-butt'd and pantsless, to the girls’ cabins.

Proponents of elimination communication letting their babies poop all around argue that disposable diapers are bad for the environment, that cloth diapers are a hassle to launder, and that both kinds of baby garments cause diaper rash.

According to these folks, it’s much easier to scrub a trail of baby feces off the floor than to toss a reusable cloth diaper in the washing machine.

There are misses, she admits, but even cleaning up a small mess on the floor is easier, she says, than laundering diapers.

It is not.

[NYT // Image via Shutterstock]

To contact the author of this post, write to