Bare Butt Babies in China - Diaper Free - Split Pants

January 22, 2013

diaper free babies around the world - split pants in China baby

One of the most shocking cultural differences in China for foreigners is the diaper free baby butts one sees every where from major cities like Beijing and Shanghai to rural villages.

The split-pants or open crouch pant phenomenon is called "kaidangku" in Chinese ( literally "open-crotch pants) and one sees babies, toddlers and young children wearing them everywhere in China and relieving themselves on streets and every place imaginable.

I had read about it, but it took our 12 year old by surprise a little the first day at her Mandarin school when they took the preschoolers out to play at the park. As someone who has been traveling the world non-stop most of her life (constantly these last 7 years), no new cultural thing shocks her too much at this point, she is ever adaptable, so she took it all in stride as she watched (in some fascination) as both boys and girls urinated and defecated outside as needed.

Unlike her mother, our daughter Mozart has already long ago adapted to squat toilets ...from Europe, her Mandarin school in Penang and else where (and they only had squat toilets at this Mandarin school in Beijing where she lived for a month). I will soon write a post with tips for squat toilets for older folks like me who can't squat (thanks to my mobility challenges).

bare bottom baby in China - EC and diaper free

Being diaper free and elimination communication has been used for centuries in many countries besides China, but is gaining in popularity in some parts of the USA. Some feel like it is better for the environment and the family.

What do you think?

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Hi again,
We just left China. While I respect the cultural choice, and, I am sure that having fewer disposable, non-recyclable, diapers on the planet is surely a good thing, I'm not sure that human waste, on the street, in the park, etc... is hygienic under even the most liberal interpretation!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Hi K, hope you had as amazing time in China as we did during our recent month long stay.

Out of 45 countries, it has been one of our favorites and we shall return for an even longer stay. Happily we lucked out mostly with sunny blue skies and before it got too cold.

Good point about the kid, animal, etc germy stuff on the ground there and else where on this planet.

You bring up the two key points people seem to debate about this issue as both diaper and diaper free have challenges.

I actually saw MUCH more poop on the streets/sidewalks in Europe..mostly dog poo, but also some horse, sheep, cow etc. Some sidewalks are covered with it, which always grossed me out...did lots of walking in China and didn't experience that there.

These kind of cultural habits don't change quickly and I imagine this works better if one is living on a farm. ;)


We've only been in Asia for 3 months, but, Burma and Japan have been our overwhelming favorites, with Bhutan a very close 3rd. We decided that, right after we win Powerball, we will come back to Japan.
While we loved the history of China (and the Vegetarian Lifestyle restaurant in Shanghai was awesome), we were there during the worst pollution hit in 30 years! Go us!
And, thanks for writing about Winser - he is such a sweetie!


Interesting K and so happy to hear you liked Winser...he is special!

My old friend ( over 30 years) Steve Beimel and Espirit travel is who I'd look into for the very best of Japan if you return:

Funny, how different people like different places. I've heard of some who didn't like Burma and Bhutan was another one of our favorite places on the planet.

I really didn't expect to love China so much, but I do think it is important to have good connections there and WHEN you go to ANY place can make a HUGE difference ..things like cold, or rain or pollution makes such a difference in impression when one is only visiting for a few days.

We had almost all sunny days in Beijing, but we had 2 pollution days in Xian and that made a really bad impression. When the air cleared and the sun came out on the third day, it was like a totally different place. Since that is the only pollution we really saw there, that gave me pause for a long stay, as I would not like to endure that day in and day out.

I've read January is bad because of all the coal burning then and by December it was getting too cold for us and we were happy to return to tropical and easy multicultural Penang. ;)

Also having one of us fluent in Mandarin helped greatly, just as her fluency in Spanish helps make Spain and Spanish speaking countries easier, deeper connected and more fun for us.

We were excited about going to Japan until the nuclear waste problem ( scary with all the earthquakes too) not sure if we will go or not. Possibly a well planned trip like China..but never a place we'd like to live.

Japan and China are both countries that as an expat one can never really be accepted into the culture...even if one lives there 50 years or marries a local.

I've traveled to about 90 countries, and over all Asia is not one of my favorite areas, but find there are always some good things in every place.

People make a place for me and we met amazing people in China that we will be friends with forever.

Happy travels!!

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