('toilet-train' in the loosest sense, obviously, I didn't want to write 'avoid getting poo all over the house' in the question title...)

I saw this line in an article about "elimination communication", which is basically where a parent of a baby aged 0-2 years learns to work out when a baby needs to go to the toilet and then takes them to something that serves as a toilet, instead of relying on nappies (while also slowly teaching the baby to associate the act with words and other context so they'll be more likely to go when prompted and will be easier to potty train when old enough).

She believes the controversial parenting strategy - known as Elimination Communication and widely 'lost' in western countries - will allow her to form an even deeper connection with her little girl.

The same idea is mentioned in that mother/journalist's first person account of how she does it:

Elimination communication or natural infant hygiene is practiced by many cultures around the world, but unfortunately has been lost in the West. Babies are no different from adults and naturally don’t want to soil themselves. Using a nappy is something they get used to when their cues to go the toilet are not heard or understood. This instinct is then lost altogether at about six months old if it has been ignored.

Most sources don't cite any specific culture and simply talk as if it's the norm outside the Western world, but I've found one rare example that does:

Chinese parents practise this style of elimination communication as they believe that eating and eliminating are co-existing elements and should be given equal importance for good health.” Says Laurie Boucke in her book, Infant Potty Training

It's also taken as fact in other places, like, for example, this related Skeptics question:

...since it was "taken" from primitive tribes where the mother is with the baby 24/7 for a long period, can the same be achieved with a modern day society...?

Is that assumption true? Are there "non-Western cultures" (which I'm taking to mean, roughly, communities following cultural practices with lineages that don't trace back to renaissance-era Europe), where the most common method of dealing with baby waste resembles 'Elimination communication' as described there?

I'm a bit sceptical because what I've seen first-hand of non-Western baby rearing doesn't involve the 24/7 direct attention to the baby assumed in many of these sources - for example what I've seen in villages across Africa involves babies spending long stretches of time tied in a cloth sling on their mother's backs while the mothers go about their business: visual cues of needing to go couldn't be seen.

There's a tonne of anthropological material on parenting around the world, so this is something that should be reasonably easy to evidence.

  • Yes, because they're different questions... Why would I ask this question if it was a duplicate of a question I answered 5 minutes before asking this one? Mar 10, 2017 at 12:15
  • Haha, comment deleted, fair enough! In case it's not clear to anyone else, the other question is "Can this technique be adapted for use inside of modern western cultures?" - parenting possibility - this one is "Is/was this technique traditionally used outside of modern western cultures?" - history/anthropology Mar 10, 2017 at 12:17
  • 1
    Slit pants are a thing in China. Also naked toddlers seem to be fairly common in pictures of places that don't get cold.
    – user36688
    Mar 10, 2017 at 19:05


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