Huggies diapers and a box of Kirkland diapers are on display at Costco Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011, in, Portland, Ore.
Huggies diapers and a box of Kirkland diapers are on display at Costco Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011, in, Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Potty training

"The Diaper-Free Baby" by Christine Gross-Loh

For many parents, the diaper debate is whether to go with reusable cloth nappies or disposable kinds.

But now comes a new option: Keep that baby's bottom diaper-free.

Also called natural toilet training and elimination communication (EC), this approach involves reading your infant for cues of impending elimination. When he's ready to go, hold him over a toilet, sink, bucket or specially designated bowl.

"Recognizing your child's need to go to the bathroom is truly no different from recognizing his sleep or hunger cues," writes EC advocate Christine Gross-Loh in "The Diaper-Free Baby."

According to the book, EC is more environmentally friendly than diapers and more gentle for baby. Additionally, the author says it makes potty training easier because it eliminates the transition from diaper to toilet.

Gross-Loh explains how to adjust EC to fit different lifestyles (yes, she says it's possible to use diapers at night, for instance) and includes testimonials and problem-solving tips. (Invest in split-crotch pants, for example.)

There will certainly be misses, the book warns. So you may want to put away the rugs, at least temporarily. Plan your outings with baby very carefully, and whatever you do, don't forget that little bowl.

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Smartphone

New app functions as a translator between doctors and patients PingMD, free for iPhone and Android

Getting an answer from your doctor can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility. Conflicting schedules, lost messages and miscommunication about symptoms and concerns can turn a seemingly simple question — such as "What can I do for this rash?" — into a nightmarish game of phone tag.

PingMD, a free app for iPhone and Android, aims to use technology to bridge this gap between doctors and patients.

As the name suggests, PingMD lets a patient "ping," or message, his doctor with a quick note. The app asks pertinent questions — such as "What color is the rash?" and "What medications are you currently taking?" — and translates between patient-speak and doctor-speak.

The patient can also attach relevant photos or videos, which the doctor can view and use to respond and provide guidance.