The pros and cons of training pants

Toilet training is a huge milestone for toddlers, and as such a huge milestone, it can cause some anxiety for both the toddler in question and all of the grownups in their life. One tool that can be helpful during this learning process is training pants. Whether cloth or disposable, these are pants that are a cross between diaper and regular underwear. They are absorbent, come in a wide variety of colors and styles and can be worn both day and night to prevent accidents. Not all families feel like they need to use this intermediate step, but for many others, training pants can help to keep the learning process between diapers and big kid underwear from getting too messy.

The pros

The main reason to use training pants is that, for almost all toddlers, learning to use the toilet or potty after wearing diapers their entire lives can take a little time. When a toddler is stuck on this middle ground, where they are learning, but has not yet learned, many families feel that training pants are a helpful compromise. Training pants give toddlers the independence and freedom in the bathroom that they don’t have with diapers, since they can push training pants on their own, but the fact that they’re absorbent and disposable gives parents the peace of mind that they’re not ruining their clothes or (hopefully) making a mess.

Beyond that, training pants tend to come in bright colors, and decorated with familiar characters, which can make toddlers feel like wearing training pants is an exciting new adventure. And for toddlers whose friends are further along on the potty training process than they are, there are training pants that are designed to look just like toddler underwear, which can help to keep toddlers from feeling left out, if they’re having trouble with potty training. Overall, parents tend to choose training pants as a way to move forward in the potty training process without moving too fast for their toddlers. And even once toddlers have mostly mastered potty training, training pants can be a great way to protect against accidents at night.

The cons

In contrast, some families choose not to use training pants, either because they don’t want to or because they feel training pants are unnecessary. Families who are careful about their environmental footprint, for example, may choose not to use training pants because they’re disposable and create more waste (although there are also reusable training pants that have the same benefits).

Other families have strategic reasons for not using training pants. For example, one school of thought says that it’s more uncomfortable for toddlers to have accidents in underwear, so switching to underwear right away encourages faster potty training. Still others feel training pants are an unnecessary step, and that “ripping off the band-aid” by jumping right into using underwear keeps the learning process from getting dragged out for too long.

Each family is different and there are many avenues to take on the way to potty training, all of which lead to a child who can eventually use the bathroom on their own! Training pants or a more abrupt change from diapers to underwear both have benefits and contrasting negative aspects and the right decision for any one particular toddler is best left up to the people who know them best!

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Potty training: How to get the job done.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 15 November 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2017.

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