I have read that babies in China do not wear diapers, is that true?
I hope this isn't a stupid question but we are just starting in the process so my knowledge isn't the best yet. I have read somewhere that the babies in China do not wear diapers. If this is true then how do they keep the babies clean? Believe me my last concern is getting wet on the first time I get to hold my daughter. I am worried about the sanitary conditions and health of these babies. Any info would be great. Thanks.
I don't know about infants, but I know toddlers wear "split pants". They are regular pants that literally have a split between the legs so that when nature calls, they can just squat and go without lowering pants. Happy
It depends on where the child is living.

In my daughter's orphanage, disposable diapers were used. Although my daughter was given to me stark naked under a thin playsuit -- no diaper, no split pants -- I soon found out that Becca was not toilet trained and definitely wanted, and was thoroughly familiar with, disposable diapers.

In many orphanages, even very young children are seated on potty chairs until they "produce", at regular intervals. They are also taken to the potty if they show signs of having to "go". Some may wear regular clothing, with pants that must be taken down. Many, however, wear split pants, which make it easier for the caregiver to put the child on the potty. This basically is the Chinese way of toilet training.

In some Chinese cities, traditional families keep their children in split pants, and it is not considered bad form if a child squats in the road to relieve himself/herself -- whether urinating or having a bowel movement. However, I can't really picture this happening in Xiamen, my daughter's city, which is very Westernized and clean.

In very poor orphanages, there have been stories about children with rags for diapers. But I suspect that you won't find this sort of thing unless you get a child from a very remote orphanage that is new to international adoption and hasn't benefitted yet from the orphanage donations.

Some Chinese babies will have medical problems, such as parasites, that affect the digestive system. They will have them, whatever sort of approach is taken to managing the young child who isn't toilet trained. Even a child in disposable diapers could come home with Giardia or Ascaris, for example.


Babies in alot of developing countries do not wear diapers (they are a luxury). The mothers know their baby's bodily timing and/or train them. And it may be cleaner to use a pot then have baby in a dirty diaper. As for the health of babies, it depends on the orphanage and the individual baby. China is still a poor country compared to the US (annual wages are between $1,000 - $2,000).

My daughter at 11 months came to me in a diaper. I don't think she was trained.
I definately agree that it depends on the orphanage. Many use 'infant potty training'. If you want to learn more about this technique of potty training I recommend the following book: Infant potty training : a gentle and primeval method adapted to modern living

This book has a special chapter on Asian techniques.
It definitely depends on where the child lives. It also depends on how traditional the caretakers are.

We lived in Xiamen (which is quite prosperous and Westernized) and saw lots of children in disposable diapers. We also saw children in split pants (even infants) who were trained to urinate on command (at the sound of a soft whistle by the caretaker). In Xiamen, they rarely urinated in the street--they were usually taken to a potty, or were taken over to a garden or behind a tree. However, in other (poorer) cities we visited, all of the babies and toddlers we saw were in split pants (diapers were way too expensive) and it was totally normal for them to relieve themselves in the street.

I worked at a kindergarten, and I will say that all of the older toddlers who came to our school (1.5 and up) were totally toilet-trained before they came, which completely amazed me!

It's not always a matter of economics as to whether or not a child in China wears disposable diapers. The English national news channel did a program on diapers when we lived there, and found that many traditional families (poor and rich alike) found disposable diapers to be constricting and dirty. They considered it much more sanitary for children to wear split pants and be cleaned immediately after each movement, rather than, um, sitting in it (sorry to be crude!). I thought that was interesting, as I had always considered it unsanitary NOT to put a diaper on a baby!

Morgan- thanks for the cultural insight, very interesting.
I also wanted to add that many of the moms I have spoken with who received potty trained infants said that the benefit was lost by the time they returned to the States and tried to get on a new schedule, overcome jet lag, etc. It was just too difficult.
Thanks everyone for the information. I had always just assumed that the infants wore cloth diapers and maybe reusable plastic pants. I really didn't think disposable diapers were an option (financially) for the orphanages. I have 2 biological sons and I couldn't imagine either one of them being "potty trained" at such a young age. When I get our daughter I don't expect her to remain trained, I want her to just take her time being a baby. As far as parasites go my concern was that since they didn't wear diapers that they might be left to lay in their 'mess' unnoticed and as anyone that has ever been around babies know-they will play with anything! I expect my daughter to have some sort of infection, parasite or rash when I receive her. These types of things are easily caught by children in all living arrangements. Again thank you to everyone for their input.

Thanks for asking a question like this. Don't apologize for wanting to learn everything you possibly can. Its our responsibility to prepare for as many cultural and economic differences before we go to China. The more prepared we are the better focused we can be on our children.
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