How Useful are Training Pants?

When it comes time to potty train your child, you want to be an informed consumer about the products you buy for your child. The questions and debates around potty training are endless and confusing: What is the right age to potty train? Will my child be willing to use the toilet? Will it be easier if my child uses cloth diapers? The questions could go on and on, and now there is one more to add the list: Should I use training paints?

What are Training Pants?
A relatively new phenomenon, training pants began making their way into the market in the beginning of the 2000s. By 2003, Procter & Gamble introduced their version of training "pull-upd" pants and quickly secured themselves 20% of the increasingly competitive baby pants market. But just what are these pants?

Training pants are meant to ease a toddler’s transition from wearing diapers to using the toilet. They feel like real underwear but are able to absorb any accidents your child may have. To get comfortable with potty training, a child can pull them on and off when going to the bathroom. There are three different kinds of training pants:

  • Cloth Pants: These pants feel like real underwear but they shield a toddler from leaks with absorbent material. They have a waterproof outer layer and since they are cloth, they can be washed and re-used, making them more environmentally friendly than disposable pants. They come with Velcro or snap closures and packages are between $10 and $25.
  • Plastic Pants: These pants are similar to a diaper except a toddler is able to pull them on or off. They also absorb leaks and any accidents. They come in colorful prints and designs and have special features like fading or cooling when wet. A package of pants costs between $10 and $25.
  • Vinyl Pants and Underwear: Some people choose to clothe their child in vinyl pants over a pair of regular underwear to guard against any potential accidents. They come in the same price range as cloth and plastic pants.

Advantages of Training Pants
Every parent has different reasons for choosing to use training pants. Some reasons why you may find this toilet training aid useful include:

  • The pants are easy for your child to pull up or down and will stay on snugly while your child plays.
  • Disposable training pants are more sanitary if your child has to stay in daycare, as the mess can be disposed of immediately.
  • Cloth or disposable training pants can be worn during naps and during the night to ensure your child sleeps comfortably even if she has an accident.
  • Cloth pants may be less expensive as they are less popular and not marketed so extensively

Disadvantages of Training Pants
Despite all the good toilet training pants have going for them, there are still some drawbacks to their use:

  • Training pants may hinder the process of potty training your child. In an online poll, 55% of parents said that disposable training pants slowed down the potty training process as their children used the pants as diapers.
  • The wetness of both cloth and disposable training pants can leave rashes or infections on a sensitive baby’s skin.
  • Disposable pants may not be absorbent enough.
  • Training pants may be too expensive for your budget.
  • Vinyl underwear can be uncomfortable and can prevent your child from being able to get his pants off to go to the bathroom.
  • Your baby could develop an allergic reaction if you use strong detergent to wash cloth diapers.

For more information on why training pants can be confusing for your child, as well as advice on other items that will make potty training easier and more enjoyable for child, check out this helpful potty training guide.

Potty Training Advice
The decision to use training pants is a personal choice and something you have to experiment with to decide if it works for you. Some parents have found that their child can wear regular underwear during the day and at night can wear the training pants in case of an accident. For other parents, training pants may not work at all as your child may find them uncomfortable or has troubles understanding that these are different from diapers.

If you decide to give training pants a try, take your child along so she can help pick them out. Let her try them out for a few days. You may find that she takes to them right away or prefers to have nothing to do with them. Either way, toddlers know what they do and don't like and will make it clear just how they feel about their training pants.