Potty training Chinese style: With a diaper-free child, look for potted plants
Potty training Chinese style fascinates Western expat moms who see the diaper-free baby style as a form of environmentalism – but they watch for potted plants, just in case. For Junior to "go" on command is a mother's dream.
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Today, Garton encourages all of her friends in America to think about trying elimination communication. “Nobody has come close to considering it,” she says. “It’s so far outside that Western way of thinking. We’ve been brainwashed by the diaper companies” with their marketing efforts, she adds.Skip to next paragraph
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For many Western parents, the use of disposable diapers seems to offset any good they might do by recycling plastic, driving hybrid cars, or keeping the thermostat low at home. Hornsby says that when her son was born, she felt guilty she wasn’t using cloth diapers, but since she worked all day, she didn’t want to ask her child’s caretaker to deal with washing diapers. And she felt disposable diapers are environmentally “egregious.” So she and her husband decided to try elimination training.
They started whistling as they held the baby over the toilet at four months. They never gave up diapers, but cut their use dramatically. The key element, she says, was to pay attention to cues. When he started to squirm or look distracted, they held him over the toilet. In a very short time, he would go as soon as he was given the signal. “So it wasn’t onerous in that sense at all,” she notes.
She was so successful that she became a bit of a sideshow when she brought Oliver to the United States last summer. “My mom would be, ‘[Y]ou’ve got to see this!’ And she would call all my aunts and we’d have five people in the bathroom, and he would be upset and refuse to do it,” Hornsby says.
In fact, elimination communication becomes a two-way conversation when a toddler is involved. “Because he has his own opinions, he feels like he should only go to the toilet when he feels he has to go,” she says. But that’s often about 15 seconds before he can’t hold it in any longer, and, well, mistakes are made. “I can’t be a total flag bearer for this,” she says.
One Chinese woman who works for a news organization in Beijing and who asked not to be named also uses a kind of hybrid approach with her one-year-old daughter. In the first month after her daughter’s birth, she used cloth diapers for the baby during the day and a disposable diaper at night. When the baby was about 10 months old, she bought a baby toilet and put the toddler on the toilet first thing in the morning. “It becomes a habit,” she says.
Now her mother, who watches the baby during the day, wants to encourage more use of the potty during the daytime. “I agree,” she says. “I think it’s time for her to get used to the small toilet. She’s old enough to do that.”
Meanwhile, the one-year-old still wears disposable diapers when she’s out. In fact, children younger than three years are required to wear diapers at many play groups, playgrounds, and educational centers in Beijing, she says.
And with China’s annual growth of 8 million people – along with a rumored end to the one-child policy – that could mean a lot more playgrounds and a lot more diapers.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Debra Bruno blogs at Not by Occident.