Why Do American Children Spend So Much Time in Diapers? Follow the Money

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The length of time that American children spend in diapers has doubled over the last 60 years, and diaper manufacturers are a big reason for this change.


These days, mothers leaving the hospital with their newborns are loaded up with “free” diapers, not realizing that hospitals usually get the diapers for free, but actually charge patients for them on medical bills.


In most cases, the diapers being handed out are the disposable variety, whose cost can add up for parents who end up shelling out more than a thousand dollars a year for them on average.


It used to be that American kids were potty trained (and out of diapers) by 18 months of age. This was the case in the 1950s. But by 2001 the average age of potty training rose to 35 months for girls and 39 months for boys. Some parents report that their children aren’t potty trained until they are three-, four- even five-years old.


The longer kids stay in diapers, the more money companies like Procter & Gamble make off delayed potty training.


Why are children taking longer now to use the toilet?


Urologist Jean Jacques Wyndaele, chair of the University of Antwerp’s Department of Urology, who has studied potty training in healthy children for more than 12 years, says modern, disposable diapers make it more difficult for children to make the transition.


“[D]iapers that have the most absorbency are the worst for potty training,” Wyndaele told AlterNet. “Potty training is about awareness and sensation. If you break the link and take away the sensation, you have a problem. The diapers have not helped. They have broken this link. The feeling that ‘Something has to happen’ and ‘Now I’m wet’ is no longer there for the child.”


Wyndaele adds that the longer a child is in diapers, the more likely they will develop problems, including anxiety, accidents and even higher incidents of disease transmission, like hepatitis B.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

How Doctors and Hospitals Help Corporations Cash In On a Diaper Scam (by Jennifer Margulis, AlterNet)


Jason 5 years ago
My son is 4 1/2 he is still in diapers we haven't heard anything from him in interest to potty training, my wife and I are busy with another baby it's easier just to have him in a diaper. The preschool he goes to will change his diapers we're just gonna wait for kindergarten when he will have to be potty trained.
Jolene 5 years ago
My son Tim is 31/2 and won't use the potty at all and won't let me change is poopy diaper and qwill runaway crying
Jhawn 5 years ago
"Wyndaele adds that the longer a child is in diapers, the more likely they will develop problems, including anxiety, accidents and even higher incidents of disease transmission, like hepatitis B." There is no evidence to support this and its completely incorrect. Diapers can not in any way cause a person to contract and transmit "hepatitis B"
Mom of 9 6 years ago
My kids are ages 2-27. My first son was reluctant to poop in the potty & was almost 3 when he was completely trained. First daughter was trained by 17 months. Second daughter was 21 months. 4th son has Hirschsprung's, so he doesn't count. 5th child, boy, was 30. Sixth, girl, was 24mo. 7th child I started cloth diapers. He was trained by 27. 8th, boy, was also cloth, 26mo. 9th, girl, is our most independent child, flat out answers NO to using potty, now 25mo. IMO the busier mom is, the longer they are in diapers, but cloth diapers definitely make training easier!! And I prefer the "Naked & $75" method. Let them stay naked while they train and when they are done, part the $75 to have the carpets cleaned lol. Seriously...it works!! ONE WEEK!!
Richard 6 years ago
I don't necessarily agree that disposable diapers is the primary cause of delayed training. Granted, in the 50s,mothers did not have the convenience of disposable diapers. It was primarily cloth and safety pins which required washing and drying diapers. This work of cleaning diapers may have caused mothers to speed up the time for not using them. However, I believe that a major factor was that mothers in the 50s were stay-at-home moms and could devote more time to such matters. Today, the vast majority of women work outside the home and do not take the time to adequately train their children to discontinue use of diapers. Unfortunately, this factor may be the result of children having,as the research states,higher rates of anxiety and disease.
Mike 11 years ago
Some kid's brains can't help it. Our 5 year old has autism and didn't finally stop using diapers until he was 4.
Mom of 2 11 years ago
I agree, it is amazing that people are taking such a longer amount of time to train their children now. Although I did use disposable diapers for my 2, I was very keen to potty train at night and day at the same time as soon as was possible to reduce diaper expenses. I bought a Conni bed pad for night time accidents which totally protected their mattresses. I absolutely believe that by taking them out of diapers during the day and night at the same time helped with their training, and reduced my disposable diapers expenses sooner than I would have otherwise achieved.

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