How to Choose Training Pants for Toddlers

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on July 12, 2023
3 min read

Training pants are often called pull-ups. They are made of absorbent layers of cloth or disposable material and are used as a transition between diapers and potty independence. Training pants can help your toddler feel like a big kid because they feel more like regular underwear than diapers. 

If you're thinking about starting your journey into potty training with your toddler, you might be curious about training pants. You may be wondering how to choose training pants or if training pants are even necessary. There are lots of things to consider when starting to potty train your toddler.

Training pants are different from diapers in that they are designed for your child to be able to pull them up and down themselves. Toddler training pants are made of absorbent material and can capture small accidents and leaks. They provide more protection than underwear as your child learns to use the potty. 

The best time to get training pants for your child is when your child is ready for potty training. Some parents do not buy training pants until there has been some success using the potty already. 

Learning to use the toilet is a big developmental milestone, and most children in the U.S. are ready for potty training between 22 and 30 months old. Boys tend to show readiness signs at an average of 29 months, while girls tend to show signs earlier, between 24 and 26 months old. 

Children who are ready for training pants need to be able to walk to the bathroom, pull their training pants down, and sit on the potty. There are several developmental signs that parents can look for to determine whether their child is ready to start potty training. If your child is meeting some of the following developmental milestones, it may be time to consider potty training. 

  • Your toddler can dress independently and pull pants up and down without much support.
  • Your toddler can walk to the bathroom and back by themselves.
  • Your child asks you if they can wear underwear.
  • Your child's bowel movements have become more predictable. 
  • Your toddler looks uncomfortable or tells you they are uncomfortable in a dirty diaper.
  • Your child seems interested in the bathroom and in the toilet.
  • Your child can follow simple two-step directions, such as going to get something that you asked for and bringing it back to you.

There are multiple brands and styles of training pants to choose from. Many diaper manufacturers make disposable training pants, and many cloth diaper companies offer pull-up-style re-usable options. 

Cloth or disposable. One of the major decisions to make when selecting toddler training pants is whether you would like to use a cloth or a disposable option. Cloth training pants will be more costly upfront but may save you money over time because they can be washed and reused. 

Disposable training pants are available in larger packs, like diapers, and are designed to be used once and then thrown away. Keep in mind that as your child grows and moves up in size, there may be fewer training pants in a pack. 

Moisture-wicking or wet liner. Most disposable diapers and training pants are designed to wick moisture away from the skin to prevent diaper rash. Many parents will choose cloth training pants because wetness is not as noticeable to a child when wearing disposable versions. 

Some disposable toddler training pants now come with a wetness liner to help your child feel when they have had an accident. This allows your child to notice when they are urinating and may help with the potty-training process. 

The training pants you decide to use may depend on your parenting style and budget. Many parents try a few different types before deciding what works best. Keep in mind when shopping that often, training pants are made specifically for boys or girls. The areas of the lining with the most absorbency are based on the needs of boys or girls. 

Your child may enjoy shopping for training pants with you. They might like to pick out their favorite colors or designs. Pick out training pants together to make it a fun, positive experience and to help build excitement for the potty training process. 

Show Sources


American Academy of Pediatrics: "The Right Age to Toilet Train." 

American Family Physician: "Toilet Training: Common Questions and Answers." 

Consumer Reports: "Diaper Buying Guide." 

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