Ditching the Pull-ups

Updated on May 30, 2010
S.M. asks from Zanesville, OH
13 answers

My son is 2 and has been in pull-ups for about 6 months. He does pretty well, he can stay dry for 2 hours or more, and almost always poops on the potty. He doesn't stay dry during the night, but he is usually dry after his nap. I'm wondering if it would help to switch him to regular underwear, at least during the day. I know it would still mostly be up to me to remind him to go, which is fine. The thing I'm most dreading is if he were to poop in his underwear. I'm pregnant right now and my gag reflex is horrible!!! I'm just looking for some tips and so on with switching to real underwear. Did it help move the potty training along, or did it makes things harder for you? Thanks everyone!

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So What Happened?

I got my son some real underwear, which he was very excited about, but we still have a lot of work to do. We even went almost a week without any accidents, but then he regressed and was peeing everywhere, with or without any bottoms on! He hasn't pooped in his pants for a long time, but I still feel like it's completely up to me to get him to pee in a toilet. Usually if I try to make him go (before a car ride or so on) he will tell me his pee won't work, then he'll pee in the pull-up 2 minutes later. He's very proud of himself when he does go, but it's such a battle the rest of the time! Baby #2 isn't due till November, so I'm going to keep trying until then, but I was hoping we'd be doing better by now.

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answers from Victoria on

I went & got cheap clothes and packed a bag & kept it in the car along with wipes, gallon zip bags & puppy pads. Keep car seat clean even if he has an accident with a puppy pad! Zip bags contain nasty clothes until you get home without having car smell. As for night, I hated laundry & my daughter started breaking out from pull ups at night. So I had them go at 8pm then when i went to bed at 10 i'd have them go again, then I would have them go again at 1:00am. I'd set my watch to wake me. It really isn't so bad compared to waking up for feedings. Mine would go back to bed as soon as they were on their pillows. they would then stay dry until about 6:30am, which is when we get up. No accidents & no laundry. After a month or so they asked me to not wake them, but that they would do it on their own. Been a year & no accidents. Hope this helps you & Good luck.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My baby sounds just like your son and we moved him to underwear at 2 (he's 2 1/2 now) never had a poo issue. We only use diapers at night. Try using the Gerber Training underpants. They are think and soft. You can get them at target or on Amazon. They are great if he has a little leak.

Good for you on the potty training!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

If your son is taking to the level of training you're doing easily, and it isn't stressing either of you, I expect that it's fine for you to continue with your current approach, watching, of course, for changes in his cues and interest level.

I don't have advice on whether to go with pull-ups or pants – this question comes up a lot and you can use the search box above to review lots experiences moms have had, and their reasons for choosing one or the other. With the physical reaction you mention, though, I would expect problems to arise for you both if you push him along too fast. Kids really train quickly when they are both physically and emotionally ready to make that wonderful step forward, but before then, it can become anything but wonderful. I hope you'll cut yourself some slack, too, and recognize that you might not be able to deal with any setbacks, emotionally or energetically.

You don't say when you are expecting the new baby, but regression is extremely common in older siblings, sometimes until they are 4 or older. Since your son is training so young, regression might well be in your future even without giving him a new sibling to compete for your attention. Huge numbers of kids train young and seem to be doing well, then completely lose interest or become overwhelmed by the size of the commitment their parents are expecting of them.

If regression occurs, please consider allowing your little guy to stay in diapers or pull-ups if that's his obvious preference. If regression occurs, your frustrations and disappointment, and his own sense of failure and resistance, can seriously complicate his natural progress toward this developmental step.

I've known a few young families who found it far less stressful to back off on the potty-training until the family dynamics stabilize, and/or until the child shows interest, curiosity and determination. It's surprising to many moms how clear that stage of readiness is when it arrives. And of course, it's so nerve-wracking until then – wondering if the little guy will ever get trained.

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answers from Rochester on

I only really used Pull-Ups at night, naptime, and early on when we left the house (just to cover accidents). I use them when he sleeps since he is not always dry and I'm not going to push the nighttime thing. Your son is pretty young to be toileting well on his own (but not impossible). Pull-Ups are pretty useless for regular daytime use--children do not learn well to recognize when they are wet, etc. If he is using the toilet well, use regular underwear or cloth training pants. You can buy vinyl elastic-leg covers that go over cloth training underwear that can work well when you're running out and need to contain any accidents, but they did not work so well for us at night. Considering how rare it sounds like a BM accident is, can you dab some rubbing alcohol under your nose when you have to clean him up? Even children doing well are going to have accidents. Sorry you're gagging so much. :(

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answers from Portland on

we went straight to underwear and only used pull ups at night until my son could stay dry all night (he was almost three). There were a few accidents but I think it helped to wear underwear so that he was more aware when he did have an accident.

good luck!

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answers from Yakima on

I have to agree with with Peg M. You can not rush your child into doing something he isn't ready to do on his own. I am pregnant with my 6th child and I have never used pull-ups. All my children have used the potty on there own accord. I found with my fifth child that if I would ask her if she needs to use the potty she would not go. So I tried a different approach, I just ignored when she needed to use the potty and didn't ask her and I went about changing her and in two weeks she just, all of sudden, went into the bathroom all by herself and closed the door and used her potty chair. She did not like to make a big deal out of it. She even wanted to empty her own potty chair into the regular toilet! Otherwards, I don't think it is a big issue. It sounds like you two are doing well together. Sometime he will decide when it is time to not wet anymore at night ( this also has to come to being in control of their own bladder, which he may be working on but doesn't quite got it yet). Be patient and he will sense that you are not rushing him and he will feel more relax.
Good luck!

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answers from Philadelphia on

I say absolutely go with the underwear, he seems ready! You really do have to remind him all day. It will be so much easier/less expensive to have only the new one in diapers.

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answers from Seattle on

I think YOU aren't ready! It makes no sense to me that you would advance his potty training when you admit that right now is not a good time for you to deal with accidents. Don't do that to yourself or you son - you will end up puking, frustrated and exhausted.

Generally I think pull ups are a money making scheme.
We started out with underwear only for a few hours, where I could give my daughter my full attention. I know when she has to go and I would put her on the potty as soon as I noticed the signs. As soon as I was distracted, she would have an accident, which was ok, not a big deal. Over the course of a few weeks we made the daytime switch and finally this weekend we're going without at night, too. I picked this weekend because I don't have to work on Monday so loosing some sleep over changing sheets won't be so bad. She may have been ready before, but I wasn't ready to loose a few hours of sleep when I get up at 6 and work full time. No need to make it hell on yourself.

Putting him in underwear will either help along or help you determine whether he is ready or not - but there WILL be accidents. If you are willing and able to deal with them, go for it - if not, just wait.

Good luck!

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answers from Sacramento on

I have three children. Two of them potty-trained under the age of two. How? By going naked from the waist down more than 90% of the time. Its best during summertime! Also, use cloth.

They are much, much more motivated to train if 1. you expect them to train and 2. they are uncomfortable if they don't.

Children are very smart. Smarter than we think. When we say, "you should poop on the potty" and then put a diaper on them, it sends an extremely confusing message. You are saying one thing and doing another. You are not giving them the expectation that they need to go on the toilet.

When you put underwear on them, it can feel a little bit like a diaper in that there is "something on the bottom." They are in the habit of feeling something down there that will catch their waste. It doesn't seem to matter if its a diaper or underwear. If there's something there to catch it, they'll go. After all, for two years they go when you put something on them! That's what they're used to. Its basically what we've taught them to do.

Take the underwear, pullups, diapers OFF as much as possible. Suddenly going potty doesn't feel "safe." There's nothing to catch it! They don't like how it feels going down their leg. What do they do? Go in search of something to catch the waste. Like the toilet!!!

And when you're out? Cloth. It gets wet! It doesn't feel good! It isn't nice and clean like the toilet is at home. Soon, they will go for the "best option," which is the toilet.

Give your child the expectation of the toilet, and they will go in the toilet.

Ages my kids potty trained:

My first child: three years old!! Way too old!

My second child: 18 months

My third child: 19 months

give it a try! :)

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answers from Bloomington on

I can totally understand being pregnant and trying to potty train at the same time! We tried to start potty training my son some time after he turned 3 when he started showing signs he was ready. We went straight to underwear after diapers, and I tried the microwave timer and putting him on the potty every hour and a half or so. He got an M&M when he went potty. Unfortunately, by day 3, he wanted nothing to do with the potty or the M&Ms even! He'd rather play and have an accident than go. We tried for a little while long, but then life happened. Holidays came around, he and I both went through a series of GI viruses, and I ended up getting pregnant. We put him in pull-ups during this time and tried to encourage him to at least go before he went to bed (since he sometimes pees the bed and leaks). Pull-ups were an easy out, but I think it's made him harder to potty train now. He's almost 4 (in August), and I'm really frustrated with the whole thing. This past week, I decided to try underwear again. We've had a day or two of accidents, but yesterday, he really did well going to potty on his own with my reminders--until we took a trip to the in-laws and he was back in Pull-ups again. I know it's confusing, but we went out in public all day, and he wouldn't use the Porta-potty. He stayed dry though, and went in the potty when we got back to their house, so I think he's getting it. I'm going to make sure to put him in underwear as much as possible this weekend. Maybe with a few extra helpers (grandparents) and seeing his older cousins going potty will finally do the trick! I guess the best advice I can give is do it when you're both ready. Pull-ups might work for you, but I don't think they helped us.



answers from Indianapolis on

We skipped day-time pull-ups and went straight for the underwear so that he didn't associate underwear with a diaper he could go in (which is all a pull-up is). If he's doing well in his pull-up, I see no reason he wouldn't in underwear. Remind him to use the potty often.
Do expect some regression after the baby is born. Most kids who haven't been trained for an extended period start having accidents again after the baby is born. So, stay on top of the potty reminders and expect to clean up some messes. Don't make him feel bad, but have him help clean up.
Good Luck:)



answers from St. Cloud on

Pull ups definitely CONFUSED our son. He has been potty trained for about a month and a half now. (He will be 3 in a week.) We were switching between underwear, diapers, and pull-ups depending on day/situation. He just started going in EVERYTHING! So we went cold turkey and ditched the diapers and pull-ups. He's done great.

And I just throw the underwear away if he poops in them...... Go to some garage sales so you don't waste a ton of money. He's only had ONE poop accident since being trained and it was because he had diarrhea that time......

For night, I would definitely put him in a diaper though. If he is NOT waking up dry, then he's not ready for nighttime training yet. Our son sleeps with a water cup and has NEVER had an accident while napping or bedtime yet. He usually wakes up about 6:30 am to go potty.



answers from Tulsa on

The hardest thing about letting them run around in underwear is the cleaning up the pee when they have an accident. If your floors can handle an accident okay and not a ton of extra work for you then go for it.

He should stay in pull ups at night until he is dry for an extended period of time when he wakes up.

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