Wednesday, March 15, 2006

circumcision and nappy rash

On the TCS list, someone likened infant circumcision to changing a diaper when child has a rash - it will hurt the child but parent knows it is the best thing to do and goes ahead regardless of inflicting the pain.

In the current case, the mother (father / caregiver / whatever) often has to make decisions for the eight-day-old boy because she can't communicate why some things are happening, he's not yet prepared to understand the range of options, and he can't communicate his opinions except in the most basic ways. Under those circumstances, making many decisions for him is necessary, not irrational. For example, he might not want her to change his diaper, perhaps because he has a rash and the wipes cause pain. Yet the mother, if she is rational, will change his diaper anyway because she knows that to do otherwise is far worse for the child. This is coercive, but rational. There's no alternative. (She will likely mitigate the pain however possible, of course, but she'll still change the diaper and the child will still hurt.)

No. Changing the diaper regardless is unneccessary coercion. Here are some possible solutions which would not hurt the tiny baby:

Get in bath with tiny baby. Instead of using baby wipes, the water will gently wash the baby clean. No pain.

Change diaper when child is asleep and won't notice.

Instead of using wipes, gently wipe the baby with a soothing anti-rash cream (yes, fingers in poop and all). After a few minutes, it may be possible to use wipes without hurting the baby. Wash hands thoroughly in between obviously ;-)

Instead of wipes, use a soft damp cloth?

Lose the diapers altogether and leave the bottom half nekkid until the rash goes. Might be a chance to experiment with elimination communication. And honestly, 8-day-old baby pee or poop on one's T-shirt is not a disaster. It can just join the half digested milk :lol:

To say "In most cases, I try not to coerce my child, but in circumstance X there is no alternative" signals a failure of creativity not a grim reminder that life is inevitably painful. Sure, we all have failures of creativity from time to time, but we mustn't pretend that they are anything other than failures, which we can learn from and do better next time.


alice said...

Yes, a damp soft *warm* cloth. You can also use them when the baby doesn't have nappy rash. Just buy a stack of cheap washcloths and put them under a hot tap. Wash in the machine. Babies love them.

Babyinform said...

Great post!A mild case of diaper rash should clear up in three or four days if you're diligent about keeping your baby's bottom as dry as possible. If the rash looks as though it may be infected (has blisters or open sores), persists, spreads, or otherwise gets worse, talk with your baby's doctor.Thanks1