Toddlers spending more time in day care, and diapers

Bookmark and Share

Potty training seems to be delayed for many Norwegian toddlers, who also are spending as much time in day care centers as their parents spend at work.

New figures from state statistics bureau SSB (Statistics Norway) show that 20 percent of all Norwegian children spend more than 40 hours a week in day care centers (called barnehager in Norwegian). In Norway, where the official work week is 37.5 hours, less at some companies, that can mean the children are “at work” longer than most adults.

Four-year-olds had the longest days away from home, followed by three-year-olds, reported news bureau NTB. More day care centers are staying open in the evening to accommodate parents who work late, or have evening shifts. SSB’s numbers showed that the average Norwegian child, the vast majority of whom start attending day care at the age of one, spends 35 hours a week in day care.

Meanwhile, newspaper Aftenposten reports that the average Norwegian baby uses around 5,800 diapers before he or she is fully trained to use a toilet, and consumption of disposable diapers is up 15 percent in the past decade. That’s not good for the environment, or the children, say experts.

“They’re clearly using diapers longer than before and that’s sad, because it’s possible to train children earlier than we do today,” Dr Jon Steen-Johnsen, a retired pediatrician, told Aftenposten. He said 61 percent of Norwegian children were potty trained by the age of 18 months in 1940. Now some children wear diapers until they’re three or even four years old.

Professor Anna-Lena Hellstrøm at the University of Gothenburg ties diaper use to cultural causes. She thinks Scandinavian parents need to start potty training earlier, despite busy days at work and day care. Steen-Johnsen seems to agree.

“Increased diaper use has to do with family structure,” said Steen-Johnsen. “When most children were at home, it was easier to train them. We can’t expect day care workers to follow up all the children.”

Views and News staff