“Diapers are bad for your baby’s pee-pee”

diapers are bad

It’s October 2014. My husband, I and baby are in Changchun at my cousin-in-law’s place. His wife watches us change diapers. Before we put on a clean diaper, she says: “Wait a while. Let his pee-pee get some air.”

She then goes on: “Do you always have him wear diapers?” After a yes, she says: “Why don’t you try crotchless baby pants? We have some at home. I’ll get you one. Diapers are bad for his pee-pee. It might start to rot and fall off.”

Side note: Unlike the same sounding word in many languages like English, German, Turkish and other, the Chinese term “pipi” (屁屁 pìpì) doesn’t describe a child’s penis, but the bottom (屁股 pìgu).

Has anyone ever told you that diapers are bad for your baby? I’d love to read your comments.

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Hi, I'm Ruth, welcome to China Elevator Stories! I have been living in Kunming and Shenzhen in the past and am now staying in Northeast China with my Chinese husband and our baby and toddler son. Join us on our journey bridging worlds!


    • I think the main point is to get some air to a baby’s private parts. It probably also lets you save a few dollars since you don’t have to spend so much money on diapers. I’ve heard Chinese infants learn using the toilet faster because most of them wear crotchless baby pants.

    • They really aren’t as bad – saving a lot of waste and stuff. But I guess everyone has their own way of doing things. And as far as I understand many people still use diapers for babies, often cloth diapers instead of those that can only be used once though. These usually get cleaned by the grandmother. It takes some time to clean them and the older generations still know how to use them.

  1. robert

    China, the land of “good” advice 😉

    I don’t see a lot of split pants here in central Shanghai though – maybe everyone with some money and a SUV in their garage has already been sufficiently brainwashed by the diaper industry to not go for split pants any more.
    I remember seeing them more often in Beijing, wondering what they were for, until I saw someone’s kid doing its business on the sidewalk.

    • I saw them a lot in Shenzhen, but it’s probably also different from district to district.

      Once the kids are a little bigger split pants probably work well enough, but I don’t really know how it works when the babies are still too little to control peeing and pooping. As far as I understand, most people will still give their babies diapers to wear when they are little (plus the split pants).

      • robert

        yeah. mostly seen them on bigger kids who can walk already.

        Another thing I keep noticing is that Chinese parents carry their babies in their arms on the street, while Westerners, when not using a stroller, usually have some sort of baby carrying harness. I wonder what’s the deal with that?

        • Many people seem to think that carrying your baby in a wrap is bad for the back. I’ve seen people doing that here, but it’s still not as popular as in Europe. You can find the traditional equivalent of carrying harnesses in China in rural parts of Yunnan (and maybe other provinces too).

          Strollers aren’t convenient in most cities in China. I’ve seen them a lot in Shenzhen, but Shenzhen is a pretty new city and many buildings/streets are built in stroller friendly ways. Other cities not so much.

  2. If you use the crotchless baby pants then you have to train the kid to only wee wee when you whistle. At least that is what I’ve seen Chinese grandmas doing!

    I have never seen anything rotting and falling off because of the diapers… just diapers rash!

  3. Basically any friend of my in-laws told us that diapers are very bad and crotchless pants are the way to go. Same applies to my friends in China who had their parents or in laws coming when their child was born. Needless to say that for our son who only uses diapers nothing rotted or fell of yet 🙂

    Sure, I believe that those pants might help to get the child quicker ready to actually use the toilet however I am no big fan of carrying my son and let him just do his business on the sidewalk in public as you can encounter daily in China :p

  4. I think it’s so much better for the environment as nappies/diapers which are disposal just contribute to land fill. However, I know it’s not always practical. I believe aiyi and the Grandmothers can “predict” when the baby needs to go to the toilet from experience. I think from memory if the baby starts pulling their legs up to their chests it indicates a #2 will follow soon enough. They take note of the baby’s actions and hang them over the toilet when required…or in the gutter as I have seen on many occasions.

    • I guess they do know what movements will lead to the baby needing to pee or poo (personally, I think that peeing is a bit harder to predict). This basically means that someone has to pay attention all the time.

      I also think it’s much better for the environment.

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