Diaper companies would prefer you don't buy underwear

Written by
Peter Dunn

We just finished potty training our 2 year old. It was exciting, scary, frustrating, and at times surreal when I found myself cheering hysterically for a bowel movement. I have determined that you haven't really "lived" until you have cheered for a doodie the way you cheer for your favorite football team. It was quite an interesting week.

As Mrs Planner and I were researching potty training, I found something mind boggling. Diaper companies would prefer that we crap our pants forever! That's right. Diaper companies have shifted the way we potty train children by making it more socially acceptable to crap your pants for longer. And we have accepted this hook, line, and stinker.

Prior to 1961 most parents were urged to potty train their children before the child reached 14 months old. One of the main motivating factors was the use (and maintenance) of cloth diapers. Parents simply got sick of scrubbing the (use your favorite doo-doo term here) out of cloth diapers. Therefore, they taught their children to use a toilet. Makes sense, right?

But this all changed in 1961 when Dr Benjamin Spock (author of the book that many parents have used as a parenting handbook for decades) started quoting pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton. Dr Brazelton decided that it was cruel to potty train a child too soon. What wasn't known for years was that this groundbreaking advice was a marketing ploy by Proctor and Gamble, a manufacturer of the disposable diaper. P&G had millions to spend on campaigns to convince parents that potty training your child early was cruel to the child. Dr Brazelton was their medical patsy. Oh, and instead of traumatizing your child too early, the parents should simply purchase disposable diapers in order to make their lives easier. It worked. Because of this, many of us don't bother teaching our children to use a potty until well into toddlerhood.

Am I blaming parents for this? Not exactly. But I am suggesting that we should not be taking lifestyle and/or financial advice from marketing monoliths. Can you imagine all the buying decision we have made over the years that were unknowingly influenced by marketers? Consider phrases/concepts like "starter home", "holiday cards", and "under warranty". These are all socially acceptable marketing campaigns that were used to affect our buying decision.

What buying decisions have you left to the marketers to decide for you?

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