kid wearing training pants

Training Pants vs Underwear: What's The Best Way To Potty Train?

Potty training is an important part in a child's development, and one of the key decisions parents face is whether to use training pants or transition directly to underwear. Both options have their advantages and considerations, and understanding their features and benefits can help make an informed choice. 

One of the most common questions we encountered was, "What is training underwear?". In this article, I'll explain what training underwear is and all the differences between training pants vs underwear to help you make the perfect decision for your child's potty training journey.

Potty training my youngest child was a challenging yet insightful experience. We started her in training pants at 18 months old due to her Montessori school's strict no-diaper policy. Although we attempted to potty train her at home before she began school, it was unsuccessful. So we decided to wait until she was a bit older and send her to school in training pants while still wearing diapers at home.

When we finally transitioned her to underwear, it wasn't as big of a change as it should have been. This may have been due to our mixed use of training pants and diapers at home and school, which may have caused some confusion for her. We also found it challenging because she didn't always feel wetness in her training pants, making it harder for her to associate the feeling with the need to use the potty.

It took three weeks for her to become consistent in using the toilet for both peeing and pooping. This was longer than my other children's potty training journeys, and I learned that every child is different. A few common lessons I learned were to be patient, not to set expectations too high, and that consistency is key, which meant we trained her with the same underwear day and night and ditched diapers and training pants.

organic cotton boys underwear

Featured is our Luca Boxer Briefs in Lichen & Eventide pack

What are Training Pants in The First Place?

So, what are potty training pants and how to use them? Training pants, also known as potty training pants or toddler underwear, are specially designed undergarments intended to assist children during the process of transitioning from diapers to using the toilet independently.

Many parents wonder how to use training pants; these pants are designed to mimic regular underwear while providing some additional features to aid in potty training.

Training Pants vs Underwear: Key Differences

From our experience, I found it important to highlight some of the key differences between training pants and underwear and why training pants may be more convenient:

  1. Absorbency: Training pants are designed to be more absorbent than regular underwear, making them suitable for accidents during the early stages of potty training. They can help contain and minimize messes, providing a sense of security for your child.
  2. Transition: Training pants are often seen as a transitional step between diapers and underwear. They resemble underwear but have additional features like elastic waistbands and easy-to-pull-up designs. Some children find this transition helpful, while others may prefer going straight to underwear.
  3. Sensation: Underwear offers a more similar experience to regular clothing, allowing children to feel wetness and discomfort when they have an accident. This sensation can help them connect the feeling with the need to use the potty, promoting faster learning.
  4. Independence: Underwear promotes a sense of independence and responsibility for children. By wearing regular underwear, they are encouraged to be more aware of their body's signals and take responsibility for their bathroom needs.
  5. Individual Factors: Every child is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another. Some children may benefit from using training pants during outings or at night, while wearing underwear during the day at home. Others may thrive with underwear from the start.

organic cotton toddler underwear

Featured above is our 100% cotton Rose Briefs and our 100% cotton boxer briefs. These are perfect to maximize coverage and minimize wedgies!

If you choose underwear, consider comfort and easy pulling up and down. As a maker of organic cotton products, I strongly encourage certified organic cotton underwear to minimize exposure to chemicals and azo-dyes. Our full collection of organic cotton toddler underwear can be found here.


Featured above is our Sophie Hipster Briefs in Sailor Stripes

Final Thoughts 

Choosing between training pants and underwear is a significant decision in the potty training journey. Training pants provide familiarity and convenience, while underwear promotes independence. Every child is unique, and the potty training process may vary, so the debate about training pants vs underwear for toddlers ultimately comes down to individual preferences and the unique needs of each child. 

Feel free to tell us how you potty trained your little ones. Did you use training pants or underwear and why?

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