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Parenting Around The World: Potty Training

I’ve talked to many moms and this seems to be a dreaded event in most households. If only there were a smooth, painless, and accident-less transition between the convenience of diapers and using the potty. Unfortunately, there isn’t, and the whole potty-training business still makes parents anxious even with books, and gadgets galore in the U.S. What are the trends around the world?

Germany Parents introduce the potty between 16 mos. and 2 yrs.old, but are lax on a timeline. The children are allowed to go at their own pace. Most are fully trained by age 3.

Cuba Children are potty trained much earlier, by 1 or 1.5 years old. This is most likely because children almost always exclusively use cloth diaper since disposable diapers are expensive. Since children feel wet and uncomfortable more readily than those absorbent disposables, they are more open to “doing their business” in the toilet.

England There is a fierce debate between the older generations on the issue of potty training. The older generation think children should start their training as early as 6 mos. While the younger generation prefer to start much later, at around 2 years old. Again, older generation used cloth diapers, and had more children closer in age. The younger generation have fewer children, spaced further apart, and have the luxury of time to keep them in their nappies. However, some young moms don’t wait until 2 yrs. old and prefer to start at 6-9 mos. like the older generation did. I was surprised to see my friend’s baby, the same age as my daughter, using her “potty” at 9 mos.!

India & China It is customary in both countries to start the process very early. They condition the child to associate a sssshhhh or similar noise with potty training as young as a few months old, while holding them over the toilet. Also, most parents do not use a child’s version of the potty, but go straight to the big throne, so to speak. As a result, children are independent in their bathroom trips as young as 2, making use of the customary split in their pants to make things even easier. I have also heard of anecdotes where some children are held in the streets to go poop. Right now, western influence is slowly introducing diapers to the Chinese, so we’ll see if this practice survives the western assault.

United States Pediatricians advise parents to watch for signs that the child is ready for training like watching mom/dad with interest when they go to the bathroom, understanding what the potty is for, etc. However, the same method that is prevalent in India and China is being advocated by a few parents here and books are now available explaining the process.

I’m not sure how my toilet-training adventures will begin, or when. I’m not really eager to begin, but it’s a task that all parents must undertake. Or maybe I’ll get Grandma to do it. 🙂

Source: Baby Center.

More Parenting Around The World: Jewelry and Babies, Italy’s Peanut Butter.


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  1. A Special Shoutout to the Potette (and some recs for Potty Training) « Domestic Simplicity
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