Cultural relativity of toilet training readiness: a perspective from East Africa

Pediatrics. 1977 Aug;60(2):170-7.


Ideas about infant capabilities and toilet training practice have changed in the United States following cultural trends and the advice of child care experts. Anthropologists have shown that a society's specific infant training practices are adaptive to survival and cultural values. The different expectations of infant behavior of the East African Digo produces a markedly different toilet training approach than the current maturational readiness method recommended in America. The Digo believe that infants can learn soon after birth and begin motor and toilet training in the first weeks of life. With a nurturant conditioning approach, night and day dryness is accomplished by 5 or 6 months. The success of early Digo training suggests that sociocultural factors are more important determinants of toilet training readiness than is currently thought.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa, Eastern
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child Rearing
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conditioning, Psychological
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kenya
  • Male
  • Social Environment
  • Toilet Training*