Potty training is one of the most challenging parts of parenting for so many reasons.
Not only is it challenging, but you have to choose from various products that will make potty training most successful for your little one.
I’ve potty trained both of my kids (potty training at 18 months isn’t impossible!) but I still get asked this question again and again: training pants vs Pull Ups? Which one is best?
Training Pants vs Pull Ups
What are Training Pants?
A lot of people think disposable training pants (like Pull-Ups and Easy Ups) are the only type of training pants. That’s not true.
Many of you may not even have heard of traditional training pants for potty training. Why not?
Often called washable training pants or cloth training pants this special toddler-sized underwear is a more frugal approach to potty training. When asked the training pants vs pull ups question, many parents say they work just as well or better than pull ups.
Types of Training Pants
Training pants could more accurately be called “training underwear”.The cool thing about training pants is that they mimic regular underwear, so you child can still feel grown up, but you know they are protected.
Washable training pants are generally one of three varieties:
1. Washable training pants can be waterproof covers to wear over underwear to protect clothes from accidents.
These are very simple and definitely “old school.” It’s what my mom recommended we use when we ran into a hiccup a few days into our potty training. I’m a big fan!
The best Waterproof Cover Training Pants
Gerber Waterproof Training Pants, 4 PackBUY NOWMom Innovations Waterproof Pull On PantsBUY NOWDappi Waterproof 100% Nylon Pants, multiple sizesBUY NOWGerber White Waterproof PEVA Pant, 2-packBUY NOWGerber Waterproof Pants – Sizes up to 3TBUY NOWGerber Waterproof Pants (4 Pairs)BUY NOWGerber Waterproof Pant, White, 2-PackBUY NOWGerber Waterproof Pants, 4-PackBUY NOW
Note: These basic waterproof covers are getting harder to find. Ebay might be your best best for finding them. Bonus: They’re very inexpensive! This is my favorite listing and you can also view all listings for waterproof training pants covers.
Pros of waterproof cover training pants:
- They’re super-easy to use. Just slide them on over regular big kid underwear.
- They’re really easy to wash. Throw them into the washing machine OR hand wash them with a drop of soap. You can literally towel-dry them if you want to use them right away.
- They’re VERY affordable.
- They last forever. I used a set of five with both my kids and passed them to a friend. Her daughter used them and gave them to another friend who’s now using them to potty train her THIRD kid. That means these training pants on their sixth round of potty training and still going strong!
Cons of waterproof cover training pants:
- They don’t breathe well. The downside to something so completely waterproof? They get…sweaty. But your child should also be sitting on the potty fairly frequently, which gives her an opportunity to get some air.
- Waterproof cover training pants are hard to find in bigger sizes.
2. Washable training pants can be absorbent/padded underwear to collect urine during accidents.
The best absorbent washable training pants:
Dimore Toddler Cotton Training Pants, 5-packBUY NOWDimore Toddler Cotton Waterproof Training Pants, 5-packBUY NOWBig Elephant Cotton Training Pants, 6-packBUY NOWKicKee Pants Bamboo Training Pants, 2-packBUY NOWKicKee Pants Bamboo Training Pants, 2-packBUY NOWHandcraft Toddler Boys’ Thomas Training Pants, 3-packBUY NOWToddler Potty Training Pants with Padded Liner, 2-packBUY NOWGerber Girls Training Pants, Polka Dot – Pack of 4BUY NOWGerber Boys Sports Training Pants (Pack of 4)BUY NOWPotty Scotty Cotton Padded Training Pants, 3 PackBUY NOW
3. Washable training pants can be absorbent and waterproof underwear to absorb the accident while protecting clothing.
The best absorbent and waterproof washable training pants:
Early Trainer Reusable Vinyl Pants, (pack of 2)BUY NOWCharlie Banana Extraordinary Training Pants, Grey ChevronBUY NOWCharlie Banana Extraordinary Training Pants, Hot Pink Polka DotBUY NOWGreen Sprouts Training Underwear, Pink Dot (Pack of 2)BUY NOWGreen Sprouts Training Underwear, Blue Jungle, (Pack of 2)BUY NOWLuvable Friends Water Resistant Training Pants, Flamingo (Pack of 3)BUY NOWSilkberry Baby Bamboo Training Pants Seafoam (Pack of 2)BUY NOWImse Vimse Training Pants, SnowlandBUY NOWi play Washable Absorbent Training Underwear Grey Dino (Pack of 2)BUY NOWi play Girls’ Training Pants, Aqua Butterfly (Pack of 2)BUY NOW
Training Pants vs Pull Ups for Going Out in Public
Many children wear washable training pants in public while going through potty training with regular underwear at home.
The best thing about wearing training pants, especially when you’re away from home is that they can hold a little bit of your child’s pee. Training pants can be a life saver for parents who have potty trainers who don’t need diapers, but still need some type of protection.
Another great thing about washable training pants is that your child will likely be happy to wear them, while they might resist wearing diapers or Pull Ups.
My son was told over and over again that he was such a big boy for using the potty and for wearing underwear. Of course he didn’t want to go back to diapers even when it might have been easier for me!
The Truth Behind Pull Ups
Part of potty training includes teaching your child to be independent, which means going to the bathroom on their own. If you have ever potty trained, you have used a pull-up at some point or another.
Pulls-ups are a tool when potty training because they make going to the bathroom easy for your child. Unlike diapers that fasten on the side, pull-ups stay put together when pulled up and down.
Pull Ups vs Diapers
Many parents use Pull Ups to transition their child out of diapers while potty training. This helps give parents peace of mind because an accident on the floor somewhere in public is a big deal for both the parent and the child.
With a pull up, all the waste is caught and contained. Pull-ups aren’t meant to be diapers though and cannot hold a ton of waste at one time. That means they should be changed as soon as possible.
Some children recognize the purpose of Pull Ups right away and will treat them as underwear, but many others do not. It takes a significant amount of effort for parents to help most children understand that Pull Ups are not diapers.
Types of Pull-Ups for Potty Training
You might have to work to find a pull-up brand that works for you because they are not all created equal. But I can help!
Keep reading to see my recommendations. You may have trouble finding pull-ups based on sizes because the sizes just aren’t consistent between brands.
Another few other things to keep in mind. There are some pull ups that offer a cooling sensation when they get wet. Be sure you don’t use these at night. No one needs to be woken up like that!
Other pull ups offer greater absorbency for nighttime use. You usually get less of these diapers in a package, so make sure you need them before spending more per pull up.
If you have an older child that you are trying to potty train, it can get hard to find pull-ups in larger sizes.
Be sure to check out the best disposable training pants for potty training. Here’s a selection of the the best Pull Ups and disposable training pants:
Pull-Ups Learning Designs Training Pants for BoysBUY NOWPull-Ups Learning Designs Training Pants for GirlsBUY NOWPull-Ups Cool & Learn Training Pants for BoysBUY NOWPull-Ups Cool & Learn Training Pants for GirlsBUY NOW
Training Pants vs Pull Ups : The conclusion
When it comes down to training pants versus pull ups, they both serve their purposes. You may decide to skip pull ups altogether and just use training pants. You might want to only use pull ups at night.
Many parents seem to think that the standard way to potty train is diapers, then Pull Ups then training pants then underwear. That’s not how I did it with my own kids and we had great success with my own method!
You know your child best and what will work for them. When it came to my experience using training pants vs pull ups, I definitely didn’t have all the answers!
Both training pants and pull ups have worked for me for different parts of potty training, so I encourage you to try both and see what works best for you.
Do you have any tips to add? I’d love to hear your take on training pants vs pull ups.
I have been debating whether to go the disposable way or cloth way. I have no experience with cloth diapers. This article answered all of my questions. Thank you so much!!
Jena Daake says
Great article!! Do you have an article or tips on the actual potty training process? I have read about the 3 day methods (we are on day 4 of Oh Crap Method) but it is causing me stress. They don’t recommend training pants at all. I feel there can be a place for training pants and pull ups, but there is not a lot of literature out there explaining where that place is. Any help is appreciated!