Training pants, pull-ups, diaper pants, disposable pants. Understanding what pull-ups (and all their alternative names) are is hard enough, let alone finding the right brand for your little one!
As a general rule, these terms are used to describe diapers that can be pulled up and down easily by your little one, and don’t feature the sticky side tabs that regular disposable diapers do. They’re usually used when your baby becomes a toddler, on the run up to potty training and beyond.
But with so many names for ‘grown-up diapers’, so many variations, and so many brands on the market, it’s a minefield to say the least. From the difference between velcro and easy tear sides to when to use pull-ups, as well as my favorite brands right now, here’s a clear and handy guide to explain it all.
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Training pants for toddlers: disposable vs reusable
As with diapers, when it comes to pull-ups, you can opt for disposable or reusable, or a mix of both.
So what do you need to consider when choosing the right option for you and your toddler?
The obvious option if ease is a priority is disposable training pants. When used, you throw them in the trash (after putting any poop in the toilet first), and move on to the next one.
But many parents and carers who use reusable training pants find the process quite simple when you get the hang of it. And it’s arguably easier to use reusable training pants when your little one’s a bit older, because they need to be changed less frequently than they do when they’re babies.
And some parents and carers use a mix of both – reusable pants for home, and disposables for out and about, for example.
- Environmental impact
Another big factor to consider when choosing the right ‘type’ of training pant is the environmental impact. Reusable training pants have obvious green benefits, although you do have to factor in the washing and drying energy use.
If you’re opting for disposable pull-ups, there are loads of brands on the market who offer genuinely eco-friendly varieties. These pull-ups will use plant-based materials and steer clear of nasty toxins, so they’re not only better for the planet, but better for your little one’s sensitive skin, too.
While you’ll pay more for reusable training pants in the long run, it could work out more cost-effective as you don’t have to keep buying disposables. You can expect to pay anywhere between 20 and 40 dollars for a pack of 6 reusable training pants, and you’ll probably need 2 or 3 of these packs to get started.
But if they last you until your little one is potty trained, that’s not a bad price at all, although you do have to factor in the cost of washing and drying them regularly.
You can also find cost-effective disposable training pants. You’ll pay slightly more for non-toxic, plant-based pull-ups, but if your budget can stretch to it, they’re more than worth it.
Are disposable training pants the same as pull-ups?
The terms ‘training pants’ and ‘pull-ups’ are often used interchangeably and usually refer to the same thing: a diaper without sticky side tabs that can, instead, be pulled up and down.
Some brands use the term pull-ups, like Huggies, and others use training pants. But don’t worry – the majority of the time, they’re the same thing!
Types of pull-ups: Velcro Sides vs Tear Away sides
Another factor to consider when buying pull-ups is the type of sides they use. You may have heard about pull-ups with velcro sides versus pull-ups with easy tear sides, or ‘tear away’ sides.
But what’s the difference?
(360° Stretchy Waistband)
Pull-ups with velcro sides are actually a pretty new idea. They were introduced to the market in 2003 by Kimberly-Clark, the brand that makes Huggies.
Kimberly-Clark said that these sides were introduced after they asked for parents’ views of potty training. Some parents and carers said that potty training was a lot more time-consuming than they initially expected, so velcro, or refastenable, sides were born.
These sides can be unfastened and fastened easily, which makes checking if your little one needs a change super quick and easy. They also mean you can change them without having to take their pants off first, which is super handy when you’re out and about!
Some people don’t like these sides, as they can easily nick and irritate the skin.
The other type of side you’ll find on most pull-ups is tear away or easy tear.
They’re easy to take off, but once they’re off, they’re off; they can’t be refastened. That means that you have to take your little one’s pants off if you’re changing them, which can be a bit of a pain, especially if you’re out of the house.
On the flip side, some say they’re a lot softer on the skin, as there’s no velcro.
Best Disposable Training Pants on the market:
Let’s take a closer look at the best training pants on the market right now!
pull-ups with velcro sides: (Also called refastenable, easy open, detachable)
The following training pants have velcro, refastenable sides. Many parents and carers like these because they make checking and changing easy. You don’t even have to take your little one’s pants off to do it! So they’re super handy for days out and traveling.
Below is a quick review of most popular pull-ups with velcro sides. If you are looking for detailed reviews, please read my other post.
Huggies Pull-Ups Potty Training Pants
The OG pull-up with velcro sides, Huggies Pull-Ups are one of the most popular on the market in the US, and around the world.
These effective pull-ups are easy for little ones to use and feature refastenable sides, which many parents and carers swear by.
They’re free of fragrances, lotions, parabens and elemental chlorine. This is great, because fragrances and lotions can easily irritate sensitive skin, and chlorine is terrible for the environment.
But they’re not completely chlorine-free, and they don’t mention phthalates. These nasty chemicals can also irritate the skin, leading to skin rashes. Even worse, they’ve been linked to asthma and eczema in young children. So we need to avoid them when they can.
If a brand doesn’t explicitly state that they avoid phthalates, I always assume they’re used.
Huggies Pull-Ups New Leaf Potty Training Pants
Huggies Pull-Ups New Leaf is the brand’s newest addition to the market. While their regular pull-ups don’t make efforts to use plant-based materials, New Leaf pull-ups contain 28% plant-based materials.
They’re marketed as the brand’s softest pull-up ever, but their claim to be hypoallergenic is misleading. They do avoid fragrances and lotions, but they don’t mention phthalates, so I assume they’re used.
Unlike their regular pull-ups, New Leaf pants offer up to 12 hours of protection, so they’re probably suitable for overnights.
Huggies Pull-Ups Night-Time Training Pants
Huggies Pull-Ups Night-Time are, as the name suggests, for overnights. Like the other pull-ups in Huggies repertoire, they feature velco, refastenable sides, and have great reviews.
They’re free of fragrances and lotions, but, like the brand’s other varieties, they don’t mention phthalates.
Up & Up Training Pants by Target
Up & Up’s training pants are a budget-friendly option with good reviews.
Significantly cheaper than some other pull-ups on the market, Target says their pull-ups are breathable and absorbent and easy to use.
They feature velcro sides like Huggies, and use fade-when-wet designs, so it’s easy to see when a change is needed.
They don’t mention avoiding chemicals like fragrances, lotions and phthalates, though, so I assume they’re used. And they don’t mention any kind of eco-credentials either.
Nighttime Underwear – Up & Up
Up & Up’s nighttime underwear, like their regular training pants, is super budget-friendly.
They have great reviews and are effective, keeping little ones dry at night.
Again, they don’t mention avoiding chemicals like fragrances, lotions and phthalates. When this is the case, it’s safer to assume they’re used.
Cuties Training Pants –
Refastenable Potty Training Pants
Cuties training pants, like many similar brands, have cute character designs that fade when they’re wet. This feature is meant to encourage little ones to use the potty when they’re ready to be potty trained
They steer clear of latex, fragrances, chlorine and dyes. This is positive, but phthalates aren’t mentioned, so I have to assume they’re used.
training pants for toddlers with Tear Away Sides
The following pull-ups feature tear away, or ‘easy tear’ sides. Unlike velcro sides, these can’t be refastened. So once they’re off, they’re off!
Some say they’re gentler on little ones’ skin than pull-ups with velcro though.
Dyper Briefs —
Best training pants for potty training for Sensitive Skin
It’s brilliant that Dyper is so clear about what their products avoid. Clearly, Dyper briefs are truly hypoallergenic!
Dyper (it’s a brand, not a typo!) products are some of my favorites. They produce plant-based diapers and pull-ups, and they’re some of the best on the market in terms of their eco-credentials and skin safety.
Their briefs – training pants or pull-ups, to you and I – are made with super soft and sustainable bamboo and they avoid toxins like phthalates, fragrances and lotions. Dyper even uses sustainable materials in their packaging!
Andy Pandy Training Pants —
Best Eco-Friendly Training Pants with tear-away sides
Andy Pandy is an American, family company that produces soft and sustainable diapers and training pants. Their pants are made with a 100% bamboo fiber top and back sheet. Bamboo’s a great material to look out for when it comes to pull-ups; it’s super absorbent and much more sustainable than cotton.
Andy Pandy pull-ups are non-toxic and hypoallergenic, so they stay away from harsh toxins like fragrances, lotions and phthalates. They feature a wetness indicator, so it’s easy to know when your toddler needs a change.
Eco Pea Training Pants—
Best biodegradable pull-ups for boys and girls
Eco Pea, as you might expect, offers biodegradable bamboo pull-ups – 85% biodegradable, in fact – and they avoid horrible toxins like fragrances, chlorine and phthalates.
These truly hypoallergenic pull-ups are completely vegan, cruelty-free and made without gluten.
The brand uses water-based inks only and, if that wasn’t enough, their pull-ups are sold in compostable paper packs.
And if you’re looking for the cherry on top of the cherry, their shipping process is carbon neutral.
Ecoriginals Training Pants—
Best Eco training pants for potty training
Ecoriginals diapers are made with a seriously impressive 90% biodegradable materials – the highest percentage available on the market.
Made with soft, strong and sustainable bamboo, these completely non-toxic training pants are a great choice for eco-conscious families.
These pull-ups will keep your toddler dry for up to 12 hours or more and they’re even presented in compostable paper packaging. And the brand doesn’t stop there with its impressive eco-credentials…
The company is carbon positive, and they plant a tree with every single order.
Healthybaby Training Pants—
Best Non-Toxic pull-Ups
Healthybaby pull-ups have a lot to live up to. In fact, the brand calls their diapers ‘the world’s best’!
Their diapers and pull-ups are the first EWG-verified diapers. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit that highlights harmful industry practices. They aim to make it easy for consumers to make smart, healthy choices.
The group analyzed Healthybaby’s materials and ingredients and deemed them safe. Suffice to say, there’s not a harmful toxin in sight!
Created by none other than Kristen Bell – of Frozen fame, if you needed a reminder – Hello Bello has been gathering a cult following over recent years. Hello Bello training pants are effective, free of harsh chemicals and good value.
They’re not biodegradable like brands such as Eco Pea and Ecoriginals, but they’re non-toxic and budget-friendly… which isn’t something you always find.
Rascal + Friends pull-ups are available at Walmart, both in-store and online. These diapers are completely free of fragrances, elemental chlorine and phthalates. But they’re not completely free of chlorine.
They’ll protect your little one for up to 12 hours and offer a comfy, flexible fit.
Eco by Naty Training Pants—
No. 1 eco certified Pull-Ups
Eco by Naty is one of the OG eco-friendlier diaper brands.
Their super soft pull-ups feature nature-inspired designs and are truly hypoallergenic.
They’re not completely free of plastic, but there isn’t a disposable diaper or pull-up on the market right now that’s completely plastic-free. The brand does use some plant-based materials in its pull-ups, but we’re not told the percentage.
You might be surprised to learn that not all diapers are cruelty-free (click here to find out why!), but Eco by Naty pull-ups certainly are.
Founded by A-list actress Jessica Alba, Honest diapers and training pants products have gathered quite a following, with their toxin-free diapers and uber cute prints.
The brand’s pull-ups feature a core made with sustainably harvested fluff pulp. They’re absorbent and soft on the skin and, perhaps most famously, they feature adorable prints!
Natural Blossom Training Pants—
Great training pants for older child
Natural Blossom is a British brand that offers toxin-free diapers and pull-ups. They’re available on Amazon for customers in the US.
Natural Blossom’s pull-ups are super thin, but absorbent, for a comfy and flexible fit.
Their products are certified by Allergy UK, and free of nasty chemicals like fragrances, lotions and phthalates.
If you’ve heard of any eco-friendlier brands, you’ve probably heard of Seventh Generation. Their stretchy and comfortable pull-ups are free of toxins like phthalates, fragrances and lotions, and they’re pretty easy to get hold of.
They’re not biodegradable and the brand doesn’t state what percentage of their materials are plant-based, but that’s just being picky!
It’s no surprise that Pampers Easy Ups are one of the most popular training pants brands on the market. These super effective pull-ups have great reviews from parents and carers.
While they’re free of parabens and latex, Pampers blatantly uses fragrances and lotions in their diapers, which isn’t good news for the delicate skin of our little ones. Plus, they don’t mention phthalates, so it’s safer to assume they’re used.
Pampers 360, or Pampers Cruisers 360, are more absorbent than the average pull-up. That makes them a great option for younger toddlers, who aren’t quite ready for potty training.
Like Easy Ups, they contain fragrances and lotions, and phthalates aren’t mentioned. So I assume they’re used.
Parent’s Choice Training Pants are made by Walmart. They offer specific products for girls and for boys, with both featuring 360 degree stretchy sides that fit like underwear.
It’s great that their materials are certified cruelty-free and vegan and the production of the training pants is carbon neutral.
But their use of toxins is unclear. Walmart says their training pants are OEKO-TEX certified. Products are OEKO-TEX certified when they’ve been tested for chemicals that are harmful to our health.
So you would assume that they’re free of fragrances, lotions and phthalates, but it’s strange that the brand doesn’t state this explicitly.
When it comes to pull-ups for overnights, Goodnites are one of the originals. They make extra-large sizes for older children who might need support overnight, providing a comfy, flexible fit and odor control.
They have amazing reviews, so their effectiveness can’t be questioned. But they probably contain phthalates, lotions and fragrances, as they don’t mention their use at all.
Training pants FAQ
1. Are training pants for boys and girls different?
Some brands, like Parent’s Choice, offer specific training pants for girls and boys. Not only are the designs usually very different, but, in some cases, the design of the overall pull-up is different too. For obvious reasons, boys’ pull-ups need to be more absorbent in the front, with the most absorbent part for girls concentrated in the middle.
2. Do pull-ups delay potty training?
As a general rule, pull-ups are supposed to aid potty training. But as we know, every little one is different, and how you support your toddler to use the potty is a decision for you.
Pull-ups are supposed to support potty training because they’re easier for little ones to use themselves. If there’s one thing toddlers love, it’s doing something themselves, and the ease of pull-ups allows this. This is certainly the case when compared to regular side-tab diapers, which are too tricky for toddlers to use themselves with any ease.
On the other hand, some parents say that using pull-ups beyond a certain stage doesn’t necessarily encourage little ones to use the potty – that’s because pull-ups are still super absorbent, so when your toddler pees, they won’t necessarily notice or be uncomfortable.
Some parents and carers prefer, when their little one is ready, to use regular cotton underwear, and get rid of pull-ups and training pants. In this instance, toddlers feel wet when they don’t use the potty. In theory, this encourages them to tell carers when they need to go.
This obviously comes with lots (and lots!) of washing and inconvenience, especially if you find that your toddler isn’t quite ready.
Every toddler develops at a different rate, and what works for you and your family might not work for another. If you have any concerns about potty training, speak to your physician.
3. Do pull-ups hold more pee than diapers?
Not all pull-ups are made equal. Some are pretty thin, and aren’t necessarily the most effective when it comes to keeping your little one dry. But most should do a good job of holding pee, just like diapers.
Some pull-ups offer up to 12 hours of protection, like Ecoriginals and Huggies New Leaf. And others are made specifically for overnights, like Goodnites. So you should find a pull-up that’s absorbent enough for your little one.
Next to read: Best Overnight Diapers For Your Baby: 8 Top Picks
4. When should you start wearing training pants?
Pull-ups, or training pants, are usually available in bigger sizes. That’s because they’re great for little ones when they’re ready, or nearly ready, for potty training.
But many training pants are actually suitable for babies from 16lbs.
It all depends on what works for you and your family; many parents and carers find that pull-ups are best suited for babies who are at least walking.
On the other hand, some parents and carers prefer regular sticky side tab diapers, even when their little ones aren’t so little.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to changing from diapers to training pants. Every little one is different, so it’s a case of finding the best fit.
5. How are training pants different from diapers?
Training pants and pull-ups tend to be slightly thinner, so they’re a more comfortable fit for little ones on the move. They also tend to have stretchy sides, rather than stick side tabs like regular diapers.
Many parents and carers find pull-ups and training pants help toddlers to potty train, as they can pull them up and down themselves when they need to go potty.
6. Do disposable training pants work like diapers?
Disposable training pants are absorbent, although perhaps not quite as absorbent as diapers. They also have a 360 fit; most diapers feature stick side tabs.
Training pants – sometimes called pull-ups – are available for little ones as little as 16lbs in weight, but many find that they’re most suitable for when toddlers are ready (or nearly ready) for potty training.
They work like diapers in that when they’re soiled or wet, you simply throw them away – after flushing any poop down the toilet, of course.
Because we throw them away, it’s good to consider the eco credentials of the product you choose for your little one. Eco-friendly training pants tend to be non-toxic too, so they’re healthier for our little ones’ delicate skin. Healthybaby, Ecoriginals and Andy Pandy are some of my favorites.
6. What are good training pants for older children?
Sometimes, children beyond age 3-4 need support overnight. And there are heaps of great brands that produce larger training pants for older children.
Check out my review of the best training pants bigger than 5T for some of my favorites!
Conclusion: Are disposable training pants worth it?
Training pants, pull-ups, diaper pants, disposable pants. Whatever you prefer to call them, these 360-fit pants are a staple in households with toddlers across the globe.
Training pants are great for when your toddler is ready to potty train, or to start learning about how to use the potty. Unlike regular diapers with side tabs, training pants and pull-ups can be pulled up and down easily. And they’re still super absorbent, so daily wees on the carpet shouldn’t be an issue… shouldn’t.
The main thing is to decide whether you prefer velcro, refastenable sides (like those of Huggies Pull-Ups and Up & Up training pants), or easy tear sides, like Ecoriginals, Hello Bello and Healthybaby.
While velcro sides make changing easy, especially when you’re out and about, some find that velcro irritates and nicks the skin. But once an easy tear pull-up is off, it’s off for good.
Another factor when choosing the right training pants is skin health. While brands like Huggies are undoubtedly effective, they’re not completely non-toxic. So many brands shun chemicals completely, whilst still providing easy-to-use, skin-safe and eco-friendly products for our toddlers: Ecoriginals, Dyper and Healthybaby, to name just a few.
So are training pants worth trying?
That’s because going from diapers to cotton pants can be a big leap.
Unless you own an industrial carpet cleaner…