Potty training is one of those moments that, as parents, we probably look forward to and dread in equal measure. The thought of not having to buy boxes of diapers and drag a diaper bag around with us wherever we go is liberating.
The idea of convincing our son or daughter that using the potty is a great idea is daunting – because we all know that this is one of those things they will only do when they are good and ready, no matter how much we want it.
Once you do reach this point, you’ll also have to decide how best to go about potty training. A quick search of the internet will offer up so much advice as to the age your child should be, the time of year you should start, and the steps you should take, it’s enough to make your head spin.
We’ve cut through all this (sometimes) conflicting advice for you here, giving you the basics when it comes to potty training.
Moreover, we’ve looked at the one thing all the advice agrees is essential – potty training underwear, what it is, how to pick the right option for your child, and which we think are the best on the market right now. First, though, how do you know your child is ready to be potty trained?
- 1 When is my child ready to be potty trained?
- 2 How to help your child learn to use to potty
- 3 What you’ll need to prepare for potty training
- 4 1. Gerber Boys / Girls Training Pants
- 5 2. City Threads Training Pants
- 6 3. Huggies Pull-Ups Learning Design Training Pants
- 7 4. Natural Blossom Hypoallergenic Easy Pull Up Pants
- 8 5. UnderJams Bedtime Underwear by Pampers
- 9 Final thoughts on the best potty training underwear
When is my child ready to be potty trained?
There are lots of different points of view when it comes to when it the best time to potty train your child. Some people (doctors and parents) will tell you a child needs to be at least two years of age, for example, or that the summer is the best time to teach your child to use the potty because they are wearing fewer clothes, making it easier to get on and off the toilet.
The bottom line is, each child is different and what’s most important is you start potty training when it’s best for your child and don’t try and force the situation. In general, this will be when your toddler can:
- Get on and off the potty by themselves
- Pull potty training underwear up or down without help
- Stay dry for two hours or more
By this stage, your child may well be telling you when they are wet and expressing interest in using the potty. If they are, now is the right time to start potty training.
A caveat to this is that, even if your child wants to start and some take to it straight away, for many children it takes time, attention and lots of patience to potty train. If you can’t offer these things then and there, if you’re going on holiday, for example, it’s best to wait till you’re home and settled before you begin.
How to help your child learn to use to potty
As well as being patient with your child, there are other things you can do to encourage them to start using the potty. The first thing is to remind them that they might need to go and create a routine that gets them sitting on the potty regularly, even if nothing then happens.
Try and time this so sitting on the potty falls after meals or when they’ve been drinking; this way, they are more likely to need to go, and the fact that they have will make them want to try again next time. It would help if you also looked for cues that your child needs to go to the potty.
They might start to fidget, for example, or look uncomfortable. As soon as they do, suggest they try sitting on the potty, creating a link for them between how they feel and what this means.
Finally, don’t make the potty something that becomes a ‘thing’, because your child will want to avoid it at all costs. If your child senses you are stressed about their using the potty, they won’t want to use it. Instead, make it fun.
While they sit on the potty, talk to them, ask how they are feeling about sitting there, sing with them or read a book. You could also consider rewarding them if they do go, creating a start chart perhaps that helps them see how good they are getting at going potty.
What you’ll need to prepare for potty training
When you start potty training, using portable potties that can be left around the house so your child can get to them quickly is a great idea. As your child gets better at using the potty, though, you will need to start making a move to using the toilet.
Toilets can be quite daunting for young children; the seats aren’t, after all, designed for their smaller bottoms, so it’s a good idea to buy a potty training seat that fits over the one already there, making it more comfortable and less scary for them.
You’ll also need to invest in a stool that lets them step up and down from the toilet easily, reducing the risk of falls and, again, making the experience of going potty more comfortable for your little one.
Then there is potty training underwear, something you won’t be able to live without for a few months at least. There are two basic types of potty training underwear – pull-ups and training pants – although, for many brands and parents, the terms are used interchangeably.
The main difference is that pull-ups are more like diapers and are disposable. Training pants tend to be more like underwear and are reusable (though not always).
Which you choose is down to personal preference in many ways, and when you might be using them – pull-ups, for example, are much easier if you’re traveling and don’t have access to the facilities to wash training pants.
Training pants, however, because they are reusable, can offer better value for money and are better for the environment. Whichever you do decide on, what is important is getting the right fit and absorbency levels for your child’s needs.
The best potty training underwear options – Our top 5 picks
1. Gerber Boys / Girls Training Pants
Despite a growing interest in gender-neutral children’s clothing, most training pants still come in designs aimed at either boys (blue, dinosaurs, trucks, etc.) or girls (pink, princesses, flowers, etc.). Gerber is no exception, despite there being no difference between the two sets of training pants otherwise.
Their pants, which come in sets of four, are made from double-layered cotton, meaning they are nice and absorbent. They’re designed to stop any leakage escaping but aren’t so absorbent you’re little one won’t realize they’ve had an accident, which is something they need to know when they’re potty training.
With an elasticated waistband, they stretch nicely to fit and are easy for your child to get up and down quickly when they need to go potty. If they don’t quite make it, that’s o.k., because the pants can be washed and reused time and again.
- Designs kids will love
- 100% cotton
- Comfort fit
- Machine washable
- Available in a range of sizes (18 months, 2T and 3T)
- Cost-effective (can be used multiple times)
- Comfortable for your child, meaning they are more likely to want to learn to potty train
- Highly absorbent
- 100% cotton
- Better for small accidents
- Small leg holes
2. City Threads Training Pants
There are no fancy designs when it comes to City Threads’ training pants, though this top-rated option does have lots of bright colors to choose from including candy apple, hot pink, deep purple, and elf green.
The underwear is 100% cotton with a highly absorbent lining made of 30% cotton and 70% bamboo. This will appeal to parents looking for products made with more natural ingredients, as will the fact that they are made with safe dyes and chemicals, making them ideal for children with sensitive skin.
The design includes a comfortable elasticated waist and well-fitting legs, meaning there are no leaks, even if your toddler has an accident. The only downside is the price, which is more than most alternatives.
- 100% cotton
- Made in the USA
- Super absorbent
- Eco-friendly: made with cotton, bamboo, and safe dyes and chemicals
- Great for children with sensitive skin
- Made with natural fibers/fabrics
- Comfortable and leak proof
- Highly absorbent
- Multiple sizes
- More expensive than other brands on the market
- Can be bulky when wet
3. Huggies Pull-Ups Learning Design Training Pants
Like Gerber, Huggies are one of the best-known names when it comes to children’s products, especially diapers and pull-ups. They are also one of the most widely available, which is one of the reasons we’ve included them here as you can pick them up in most grocery stores.
The pull-ups are available in a range of sizes and with different absorbency levels for boys and girls; there are also girls and boys designs. These are much more like diapers than the training pants we’ve just looked at.
They are disposable and have easy-open sides if you need to check whether your little one has had an accident; if this happens, the pattern also fades – the idea is this will help your child know when they are wet and when they are dry.
- Available in multiple sizes
- Absorbency levels designed for boys and girls
- A pattern that fades if your child has an accident
- Easy to pull up and down and open at the sides if you need to check whether your child has had an accident
- Easy to use if you are out and about
- Light to carry
- Easy to pull up and down and do potty checks
- Similar to diapers, which might mean your child struggles to understand the difference and that it takes longer to potty train
- Sizes seem to run a bit on the small size so you may need to buy a size up.
4. Natural Blossom Hypoallergenic Easy Pull Up Pants
Natural Blossom pull-ups are an excellent option for parents who have children with sensitive skin. They are certified by Allergy UK, have been Derma tested, and passed CPSC safety standards. At the same time, they look good and are comfortable for your little ones; they can absorb up to 17oz of fluid and leak-proof.
Your children will like them because they fit and feel like underwear and are comfortable thanks to stretchy sides and ruche legs which means they don’t cut into the skin. Plus, for parents who don’t want to have to pick a gender-based design, Natural Blossom’s pull-ups feature cute animals that are gender-neutral.
- Comfortable fit and feel
- Highly absorbent
- Cute, animal-based, designs
- The package turns into a diaper bag
- Three sizes (4T, 5, and 6)
- Approved by Allergy UK and meets CPSC safety standards
- Ideal for children with sensitive skin
- Comfortable fit
- Absorbs up to 17oz of fluid
- Cute, animal-based, designs
- Free of harmful chemicals
- More expensive than other pull-ups
- Only available online
5. UnderJams Bedtime Underwear by Pampers
When it comes to potty training, it’s much easier for your child during the day because they are awake and aware of when they need to go. It’s harder at night when they’re asleep. This is where nighttime potty training underwear can be useful.
Pampers’ Underjams Bedtime Underwear is one of our favorites here, and one of the best known and best-loved brands when it comes to diapers in general. The nice thing about the Underjams (which are available in multiple sizes and boys and girls designs) is that your child won’t feel like they have to wear a diaper to bed, which can be demoralizing once they’re potty trained during the day.
Underjams are light and comfortable to wear. Unlike day-time pull-ups or training pants, however, they lock any wetness away so your child can sleep through the night.
- Lock in wetness during the night
- Made to look and feel like underwear
- Comfortable to wear
- Available up to age 8
- Designed for boys and girls when they need absorbency most
- Available in multiple sizes, making them suitable for children from 38lb to 85lb.
- Designs boys and girls will love to wear.
- Different absorbency levels for boys and girls.
- Don’t leak.
- Sizing may be a little on the small size so you might need to order a size up.
- Can tear when taking down.
Final thoughts on the best potty training underwear
While there are only two basic types of potty training underwear available – potty training pants and pull-ups – there are plenty of choices for parents in both of these categories.
These include well-known brands such as Gerber, Huggies, and Pampers as well as lesser-known, but highly rated, options such as City Thread and Natural Blossom. Each has pros and cons and your personal circumstances and preferences, along with your budget, will go a long way to influencing the final decision you make on which to buy.
If you are looking for a more affordable option, for example, the Gerber training pants or Huggies pull-ups are two of the best on the market. They both get good reviews on sites such as Amazon and have loyal followers amongst the parents out there.
At the same time, neither brand has the same eco-friendly credentials as City Threads or Natural Blossom, both of which will be much better for your toddler if they have sensitive skin or you’re want to buy products that let you stay away from harmful chemicals.
Both City Threads and Natural Blossom choose to stay away from chemicals and compounds such as PCP, TeCP, Benzene, and Benzyl Butyl Phthalate, all of which could be harmful to your child. It’s not clear which of these might be in the Huggies and Gerber underwear. Because of this, City Threads and Natural Blossom would be our top choices here, as long as they fit with your wallet.
Which brings us to the next question: whether we would choose training pants or pull-ups? Again, there are pros and cons here. Pull-ups are a much better option if you are out and about or your child is in daycare because they are disposable and can be changed quickly. You can pack up as many as you need for the day and not worry about how many accidents they might have.
If you go for training pants, you may not be able to take out as many as you might need for the day, which could mean a trip to the park could be cut short.
It also means you could be carrying around soiled underwear until you can get them home and into the washing machine. However, if your child is getting to a point where they don’t have many accidents, and the training pants are more of a safety net, this isn’t too much of an issue.
Training pants are also more like real underwear, which could help speed up the potty training process as they don’t feel like diapers the way pull-ups do. We like this, and that they are reusable, just like real underwear. This is why they would be our first choice when it came to potty training underwear.
To summarize, then: our first choice for potty training underwear are training pants, and our first choice in training pants are those by City Threads because the quality of the materials they use can’t be beaten.
However, for those children at the start of the potty training journey, or parents who are traveling or spending the day away from home, it wouldn’t hurt to have a stock of Natural Blossom pull-ups to hand.