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Potty Training Around the World

by Patience Paradox, MA, studioD

Parents the world over share the challenge of potty training and look forward to having a clean and dry baby who goes to the potty in an appropriate manner. However, different cultures as well as different families have diverse expectations of what an infant or a toddler should be doing at any given stage of development, and potty training is no exception.


The Digo people, a tribal group living in Kenya and Tanzania, start potty training infants when they are a few weeks old. Since there is nearly always someone tending babies in the Digo culture, they are able to immediately respond to the signs of discomfort. Babies who need to eliminate are taken outside and held over the ground in an appropriate place. By the time Digo children are 5 or 6 months old, they stay dry throughout the day and night.


Parents in China usually begin potty training when babies are a few months old. They hold the baby over a potty or by the edge of the road and whistle softly to imitate the tinkle of urine. Usually, by 6 months old, Chinese children are able to stay dry throughout the daytime. Most Chinese babies and toddlers wear open-crotch kaidangku training pants, as well, and by 12 to 14 months, they know to squat down to relieve themselves wherever they are.


In India, potty training starts when a child is about 6 months old. At frequent intervals, caregivers hold babies above the latrine and make a hissing sound to encourage them to eliminate at the scheduled times. In addition, most toddlers are left to walk around diaperless, wearing only a shirt. They are routinely praised for remaining clean and dry and scolded when they do not. The children are usually completely potty trained by the time they are 14 months old.

United States

American parents often use children's books to encourage progress.

The United States has a diverse population embracing several different approaches to potty training. However, a majority of U.S. parents watch for signs of readiness and then let their toddler set the pace. Parents often use special children's books, games and potty chairs to encourage their child’s cooperation and progress with potty training. They may also use positive reinforcement techniques such as rewards to get results. Most children are completely potty-trained between the ages of 2 to 3 years old.

Other Countries

Even though most parents in Great Britain now leave potty training completion until about 2 years old, a number of grandparents still advocate the completion of potty training by 6 months, as was the norm only a generation ago. Children in Cuba are usually completely potty trained by the age of a year and a half. On the other hand, German parents wait to introduce potty training to young toddlers and then let them progress at their own pace; most are out of diapers by age 3.

About the Author

Patience Paradox is a licensed counselor. She has been a health and psychology writer for more than 15 years and her work has appeared in the "Encyclopedia of Nursing," among other journals. She has master's degrees in clinical psychology and a bachelor's degree in health sciences.

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