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Disposable diapers or bare bottoms? China frets over potty training

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One result is that upwardly mobile Chinese parents are increasingly scorning traditional split pants for their own children as “uncivilized” and loading up on disposable diapers, instead. To many, being wealthy enough to use and toss an item is a sign they’ve arrived.

“Chinese parents in cities have reached the income levels to afford consumer products that provide convenience and facilitate their modern lifestyle,” says Pricie Hanna, a hygiene industry expert with Pennsylvania-based Price Hanna Consultants.

China's potty parity

One young Chinese mother says she sometimes sees children using the sidewalk as a toilet. “Even though I’m a mom, I still hate that kind of behavior,” she says. She and her husband use a combination approach with their 1-year-old: cloth diapers, disposable diapers, and some toilet training.

Diaper companies in China are using the health and hygiene approach to attract parents to disposable diapers, Hanna notes. They are “aggressively educating consumers with messages that high-quality diapers maintain skin dryness and health, and help babies – and their parents – sleep longer at night.”

Pampers – China’s top diaper company – even took that approach one step further, conducting a study in 2006 that reported that babies who used Pampers fell asleep 30 percent faster and slept a half-hour longer at night. That led to its 2007 “golden sleep” campaign, in which Proctor & Gamble asked parents to send in photos of their slumbering babes – all apparently sleeping comfortably in their Pampers – and got 200,000 baby pictures.

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