The Transition to Potty Training Pants: Pull-Ups Vs Diapers

Jan 18, 2023 | 4 Minutes Read

One of the first steps parents take as they get ready for potty training is determining if their child is really ready to begin. And for many, the next step is helping their child transition from diapers to toddler training pants. Using training pants provides consistency that helps children learn. But how should parents encourage their child to make this switch?

Mother helping little boy with potty training

Watch Your Child for Interest in Potty Training

A good way to start is to build on your child’s excitement and interest in potty training (if your child is there already!). “I used Pull-Ups® training pants to transition my son, George, into potty training,” says Garden Logan, a Philadelphia mom. “He knew the difference between training pants and diapers and loved the characters... and he has older cousins who wore Pull-Ups® training pants,so he was excited to start wearing what they had.”

As you’re thinking about whether to use Pull-Ups®, diapers or regular children’s underwear, think about what’s easiest for you — and what will help your child take a small but important step toward being a Big Kid. Pull-Ups® training pants aren’t just Big Kid diapers but instead go on like underwear (but without the messy clean-up that parents have to deal with when accidents happen in underwear!).

Dr. Christopher Cooper, an associate professor at the University of Iowa and director of pediatric urology for the Children’s Hospital of Iowa, thinks this sort of excitement or curiosity is important for introducing potty training pants to a child.

“When the child is showing interest in toileting and starting to stay dry, it’s a good time to start using training pants,” says Dr. Cooper. A fun way to introduce training pants and other potty training essentials is to hold a Pull-Ups® Scavenger Hunt. This fun hide-and-seek game will help get your child curious about the potty training process — and excited that you’ve bought things just for them.

Practice and Maintain Consistency

Once your child is interested, it’s a good idea to help them become familiar with training pants. Before starting to use them, we recommend you and your child practice pulling their training pants on and off together. Playing the Can You Do What I Do? potty training game will let you show your child how to go to the potty in a fun way. This way, your toddler will become familiar with the process before they’ll have to do it by themselves.

Once the up-and-down movement has been mastered, consider giving your child a chance to sit on the toilet — first with the pants on and later with them off. Then explain exactly how the training pants work. Try the Which Is Faster? game so you and your child can compare the process of getting diapered to pulling down their Pull-Ups® training pants and sitting on the toilet.

And remember, once you’ve made the big transition to training pants, try not to confuse your child by switching back to regular diapers. Accidents and setbacks will happen, but don’t let them discourage you or your toddler.

Encouragement Can Do Wonders

So what do children need at this stage to ensure they’ll make those final steps to being fully potty trained? “[Give them] encouraging reminders to try and go to the bathroom so it becomes a habit,” advises Dr. Cooper. “Don’t punish children for any accidents, though. Instead, reward and support children for going to the bathroom or at least trying to go.”

This is advice Dr. David Fay, a family physician and associate director at the Waukesha Family Practice Residency Program in Waukesha, Wisconsin, agrees with wholeheartedly. “In my experience, using a low-key, positive-reinforcement-style approach results in the greatest success,” he says.

“I’ve had success with a small bowl of individually wrapped toys purchased from a dollar store [and] placed on the toilet. Each successful void or elimination allows the child to open a gift. Children and parents have enjoyed this approach, and it often works fairly rapidly.”

It’s important to remember that age will have a big impact on how readily a child will adapt to training pants first and then real underwear, though some experts say some of the studies on age and potty training tend to offer mixed conclusions.

“Some studies show it’s better to start early, some late,” says Dr. Fay. “About all the studies agree on is the fact that girls complete toilet training before boys. Despite this lack of useful information, nearly all children achieve their goal. This likely means that whatever means one chooses will result in the desired outcome.”

Keep Your Child’s Personality in Mind

Introducing your child to training pants can be as unique as your toddler is. What will most appeal to them? Would they react with excitement to the idea of shopping for training pants? Will a favorite cartoon character catch their interest?

Taking your child’s unique personality into consideration will help you answer these questions. It’s the crux of the Pull-Ups® Potty Partnership potty training program. Once you’ve taken a brief assessment, we’ll help determine what kind of personality your child may have and help you find what works best for you and your child based on the results.

Potty training is a big moment — it’s when your little one becomes a Big Kid. It’s important to reinforce this change, and there are a couple easy ways to do so.

First, be consistent. When you take your kid out of diapers, keep them out of diapers. Pull-Ups® training pants are a symbol to your little one that it’s time to potty like a Big Kid.

Second, be sure you have all the tools you need for easy potty training. Our shopping list makes it a breeze.

And finally, be sure to keep up the encouragement and fun. With praise, rewards and goofy moments, your child will associate potty training with fun and look forward to having some special time with you. And together, you’ll find that a journey that’s sure to have a few stressful moments has far more joyful ones.


Fun Disney Designs

& fading graphics to teach kids to stay dry

Pull-Ups® Potty Training Pants
Skincare essentials boys image Skincare essentials girls image

Ultra Soft & Breathable

To help protect sensitive skin

Pull-Ups® Skin Essentials Training Pants

Extra Nighttime Absorbency

With up to 12-hour overnight protection

Pull-Ups® Night*Time Training Pants