Potty Training - Training Pull-ups or Underwear?

Updated on April 18, 2010
C.H. asks from La Mesa, CA
22 answers

I'm planning to start potty-training my 2 1/2 year old daughter this weekend. She has all the readiness signs. And I have already been taking off her diaper at random times and if it's not wet, I set her on our toilet seat and she goes pee without any problem. She also goes pee before her bath regularly. Anyway, I'm not sure which is better or more helpful to train - should I start using training pull-ups when I go full-force potty training or should I use toddler underwear so she actually feels like the situation is different than with diapers? Are pull-ups too absorbent for a child to feel wet? Is there another option I should consider? And if so, where do I buy it?

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So What Happened?

I decided to go with princess underwear. The first day we only had two accidents and many successes. I'm on the 2nd day right now...and we've had FOUR accidents so far and we're only halfway through the day. I'm hoping this is the storm before the calm. I do think that underwear was the right choice though because her problem is mostly going poo in her underwear and I know she would have done it for sure in pull ups. All that gets wet and dirty is her underwear, her clothes, and her legs. We just keep her off the couch and on her little booster seat on the floor. So it hasn't been super bad. If you have any more advice about how to stop her from pooping in her pants, let me know!

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answers from Las Vegas on

Just underwear!!! :) I recently potty trained my son and I'm no pro -- but I have friends whose kids "save" their poop or pee for the pull-up at night. It just seems to send a mixed message.
If you have a waterproof mattress pad it's no big deal to throw everything in the washer...same with clothes. Yes, we still have an occasional accident but what's the difference if you're throwing something in the trash or in the washer?
Good luck!!!! :)



answers from Los Angeles on

My two cents...pull-ups are a waste of time...put her in underwear. That's really the only way to seal the deal on potty training...

Good luck!

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answers from Orlando on

I don't care what anyone says-- Pull Ups are a ridiculous waste of money!!! Underwear is the way to go! I potty trained 3 of my own kids without purchasing one single Pull Up, and countless preschoolers years ago when I was a teacher.

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answers from Honolulu on

Pull-ups are pointless.

WHEN she is "ready".... these are great:

It is the Gerber Training Pants.. that are lightly padded in the middle.
It is good and durable and lots less expensive than "Potty Scotty" training pants. Even my friend's Preschool recommends these Gerber underwear.
You can get it from Amazon, E-bay or Walmart has them.

I used it for my daughter, until she was 100% completely potty trained. And my son now uses it as well. I love these Gerber underwear.

Take potty training is steps... don't rush. And keep in mind that kids do have accidents. Take it in stride. To keep it in perspective... even Kindergarten kids have pee accidents. And its normal.
Potty ability, by nature, will have accidents. And regressions. And good days and bad days.

Then when she has COMPLETELY mastered toileting... then you can graduate to "real" underwear... that is not padded in the middle.
And yes, the padded Gerber underwear, the child can feel the wetness. It is not like a "diaper."

When she is at home.. you can just leave her bare bottomed.
When going out... if you leave her in underwear BEFORE she is completely competent at knowing her bladder and able... you WILL have accidents.... and it will be sabotaging for the child. Because, in the beginning, a child will not be able to "hold" it for too long... much less walking all that way to a public toilet in a mall & then standing in line for a bathroom stall, for example.

So when going out... in the beginning, until my child mastered their body/bladder... I took them out in diapers. They KNEW it was just for going out... and for sleeping and napping. At home, it was naked or Gerber underwear.... until they were FULLY fully fully bladder competent and in their awareness and body control.

I use(d) diapers for at night and naps. Because Pull-Ups don't hold much and it leaks. Useless. Just costs money.

Keep in mind, that for naps and sleeping at night... bladder control and night-time/nap time dryness... can take even until 7 years old. And this is normal per Pediatricians. Night-time dryness... is an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT process and construct. It is biological and has to do with the myelin nerve development as well.

"Pooping" on a toilet.... is also another stage of potty ability/training. For pooping... children often are slower to do this on a toilet/potty. And they may still want their diaper for pooping. Its a normal continuum. So you either make it a battle and force them to poop on a toilet or you don't & let them go at their own pace and comfort. Or, if not, they will get constipated and many toddlers will then actually "withhold" their poop and not poop... and then constipation will get worse... and then it will literally hurt them when the hardened poop comes out. So, just a head's up about the pooping part and toilet training. You do NOT want a child to get constipated or to start to "withhold" their poop out of anxiety.
good luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Gainesville on

Yep, pull-ups are more expensive diapers! I never made the connection with my kids that diapers were for babies so i never had a fight on my hands when I still needed to put a diaper on my son during potty training. My daughter is potty training now and she won't get pull-ups either. Bare bottom is also a good way to go. They really know what's going on then. I also found setting a timer in the beginning of training and making a huge deal about the pee pee bell going off and running to the bathroom helped too.

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answers from Chicago on

Pull-ups are garbage. Definitely go straight to underwear. Use the plastic covers over thick underwear for naps and night time at first. Get a plastic mattress cover (like 15 bucks at target) that you can leave on until they never have accidents anymore. I despise pull-ups--they are one of the biggest scams out there for moms. Peeing into a fancy diaper is not being potty trained. If she isn't ready for underwear than she isn't ready to be trained. Keep her in diapers until she is ready. Accidents in the beginning is part of the learning process. The first day she might have 10 accidents, but by the end of the week you'll be done! I have helped train many kids--the ones whose moms insisted on using pull-ups had twice the amount of accidents once switched to real underwear, took months compared to a week to train and regressed back into accidents more frequently after training was complete.


answers from Los Angeles on

Love your enthusiasm! Good luck! I am going more slowly with my 2 year and 4 month old. Pee is easy, but poop, not so easy... Her pediatrician recommends no pressure as he says that they can and will hold their poop for days which starts a miserable cycle of constipation and laxatives that once begun can take many months to correct. Just want to tuck that in the back of your mind if you see her resisting pooping on the potty -- you might want to pull back and allow her get there in her time. Maybe it won't be a problem for her! Some kids don't have that issue. Happy potty training!



answers from Los Angeles on

These are my tips-

no pull ups
use underwear-buy a size bigger than you think you need so she can pull them up herself. there are training pants-just thicker underwear.

plan on staying home for 3 days.

if it's warm, put the potty outside, and stay naked from the waist down.

use a little potty for a couple weeks, it seems less scary.

I'd take her shopping-show her the super cute undies she can wear if she uses a potty. (my daughter is a big pain in the butt w/ her underwear-she only wants sleeping beauty)

have lots of patience & good luck!



answers from San Diego on

Both my son and daughter were potty trained at around 2 1/2 years old and with both we went straight to underwear - not ever toddler underwear. I carried an extra set of clothes with me, but it really didn't take long for them to figure out that it doesn't feel good to urinate all over yourself. I think with pull-ups they are essentially the same as diapers so they don't get the sensation of what it is like to have an accident. Good luck.



answers from Santa Fe on

With my first, I thought I would try pullups. She called them the 'pretty diapers' - she could not tell the difference. We never really used them, as it defeated the purpose. We just got rid of all diapers and wipes and such. She has wet the bed once since then. Now we are potty training my son, and just switched him to undies too. It seems to work well. He has only had 2 wet beds. It does mean more accidents, but that is part of the learning for them.
We follow the advice given on this webpage (you have to buy the book): http://www.3daypottytraining.com/
It has not been instant success, but both kids picked up the idea in the 3 days enough that going back to daycare after those 3 days was not a problem. (Only 1 accident or so a day.) My girl was 27 months and my boy was 22 months when we did this.... So it can be done.
(My kids have REALLY sensitive skin, so they have been aware of their body functions for a while, as if they have a rash, it hurts. Both were showing signs of wanting to be potty trained.)

Anyway. Good luck! She sounds like she is well on her way to getting the hang of it.



answers from Los Angeles on

Definatley go with the big girl undies! The pull ups are too much like a diaper and just confuse her or send her mixed messages. If she wets her undies, she will et the feeling of wetness and not like it. Then she will become aware of what happens and know to go on the potty. you can get cute characters, if she will respond to Minnie Mouse or Elmo etc. at Target. We like the ones at Gymboree also. Use pull ups still at night tho and at naptime.



answers from Los Angeles on

We went straight to panties ( as we call them). My daughter will be 3 this month and still wears pull ups at night though. I trained her using the book potty training in half a day. She still has accidents if I dont make her go to the bathroom. She never wants to leave what she is doing. Her preschool teacher recomended no pull ups.



answers from Cleveland on

I too used the training pants like the gerber ones. we bought ours from walmart.com they come in 2 packs (we got 4 packs) They held everything, but read the reviews we did order a size larger because of complaints about being to small on the legs!



answers from Detroit on

I have six kids and I used the pull-ups once and it took that child almost twice as long as everyone else. So I really think you should use underwear, but what I did was get the plain ones (you can get more that way too) until they mastered it. Then when they had no accidents for a week. We would take them and get the ones with cartoons on them. Which ever ones they want. My kids tried harder then. Hope this helps. Good luck!


answers from Minneapolis on

Underwear, no contest. Pull ups are ridiculous, insanely expensive, and they prolong potty training. For a reason, they want your money longer! LOL!

But really, forgo the pull ups and ditch the diapers, go wit hunderwear, go with training and dont' look back.



answers from Detroit on

My sugestion is regular toddler underwear,i did that with my son.Pull-ups just for the night and u'll see if the diaper is dry in the morning for a week or more she shuld use regular underwear for the night too,
good luck



answers from Burlington on

I agree with everyone else. Underware is the way to go. My daughter wears a diaper overnight (because I refuse to pay for pullups for sleeping in). My daughter trained herself in 2 days pee and poop. The first day she went on the potty we went to the store and she picked out her own panties. For about a week she was in diapers when we went out and after that she just wanted her big girl panties. She's had 2 accidents (in those first 2 days). So, don't waste the $ on pullups!
Good Luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

we let my son go to bed in underwear after peeing on self he got so sick of it he finally realized he wanted to try and pee in toilet and then bed and no drinks after 7



answers from San Luis Obispo on

I liked to use 'big girl panties' during the day, and just put a pull-up over the top of the panties at night... sort of like the old plastic pants. That way, if she doesn't pee, the pull-up (which can become expensive for some families) isn't 'dirty' and can be used again. And, if she does pee, she'll definitely feel it in the morning!


answers from Los Angeles on

Training pants, for sure! We loved these, and it looks like they're on sale right now, a bonus:


A bit pricey, but we found them to be totally worth the money. You'll actually SAVE money in the long run because pull-ups are ridiculously expensive (while still providing the feeling of a diaper, which you're trying to get away from when potty training)

Good luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

Going to have to agree with everyone else - we purchased Pull-ups, but they just didn't cut the mustard in my opinion. Good in theory, but not practical. They're a safety net that doesn't give them any sense of really having to work towards the goal.

They are good for overnights, but I'd not recommend using them during the day.

It sounds like she's ready to get there, so good luck!


answers from Fort Walton Beach on

Underwear during the day and pull-ups at night.

Check this lady out and try to use some of her techniques:

Good luck :)

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