Updated: Nov 1, 2019
What are potty training pants or cloth pull-up training pants? Inside, my picks for toddler underwear.
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Those *Looking For Recommendations* posts pop into our Facebook feeds for a simple reason. We all want to know the answer to which one should I get?
Which balm cures a constant battle with eczema? Which jarred tomato sauce does the food blogger recommend (when there’s zero time for anything from scratch?)
And which toddler underwear does the potty training consultant suggest for the potty training toddler? Happy to share, as I definitely have tips for choosing toddler underwear as it relates to potty training..
Let’s start with the lingo: Potty Training Pants
Have you heard about potty training pants or cloth training pants? Are they different from the basic packs of toddler underwear you’d find at a store like Old Navy?
Yep, they sure are. Not all underwear is created equal when you have a newly potty trained toddler.
In Oh Crap Potty Training, Jamie sets up the learning blocks of potty training. First, you stack your success with your child going from bottomless to pants commando. Next comes adding in the toddler underwear. That’s when it’s a smart idea to use cloth training pants, sometimes referred to as potty training pants.
Connected: Want to know all the blocks of potty training? Join my mailing list, and I’ll email you a printable for the Blocks of Potty Training — along with all of my Potty Training Cheatsheets.
Wait, when do you add in the underwear?
You want your child to be rolling with using the potty.
You shouldn't be seeing more than 2 accidents in a week. Your child should be going to the potty prompted and unprompted.
And here’s why the underwear is worth the wait.
You’re set up to see fewer accidents. Why? Your toddler has a muscle memory from *living* in a diaper for their first couple of years. That snug feeling of the diaper is remarkably similar to the snug feeling of undies.
That's why, in Oh Crap Potty Training, we typically say to wait a few weeks before you introduce underwear to your toddler. That's enough time to be sure you’re in the clear.
Next comes the fun — choosing potty training pants!
To be clear, you absolutely don't need to invest $14 in a pair of toddler underwear — these cloth training pants will not magically do the work of potty training your toddler for you.
So if some of these toddler underwear picks fall outside your budget, do not despair.
(I scouted affordable cloth training pants, too.)
Here’s why I’m such a fan of cloth training pants:
1. Cloth training pants are easier for younger toddlers to push down.
The cinching elastic waistbands are standard for typical toddler underwear. But those elastic bands can be tougher for young toddlers to hook thumbs and push down themselves.
Cloth training pants lack the tight elastic cinch — which makes it easier for toddlers to push down themselves.
And when it’s easier for your toddler to do something WITHOUT YOUR HELP, that’s when we tend to see less accidents and less toddler resistance. The greater toddler independence you see in doing all of the things...the better the potty training process goes.
2. Cloth training pants help with dribblers.
When a bit of pee dribbles into the underwear (but doesn’t wet the pants) — that’s a common issue for a little while after potty training, especially with boys. Some toddlers leak a little pee as they're testing boundaries with how long they can hold their pee.
Here’s where cloth training pants save the day for dribblers.
When your child wears cloth training pants, a dribble won't leak through to their pants (or bed). The extra fabric in the front panel absorbs the dribble.
That's a huge win-win for everyone.
For you? Less laundry.
For your toddler? Less feeling like he’s had another miss.
Dribbles typically go away in a short time. Until they do, it can affect his confidence if he needs to change his pants throughout the day because of a little dribble.
3. Cloth training pants are a must-have for potty training at night.
I also recommend cloth training pants for any parents about to start overnight potty training, or when you take away the pull-ups at night.
AND cloth training pants seem more comfortable (my opinion).
Across brands, what I've found is cloth training pants tend to feel cozy, soft, and feel more forgiving around the waist (they stretch nicely).
Okay, so now that you understand why I’m such a megafan of cloth training pants, WHICH ones do I like?
I waded through tons of cloth training pants (or potty training pants) online to find the absolute best picks for potty training toddlers.
Basic White Cotton Training Pants that check the affordable box.
Potty training on the younger side? This shop carries hemp cotton training pants in sizes as small as 1 year, for when the standard 2T/3T underwear doesn't fit your little bean.
Colorful Organic Cotton Training Pants by Earth Baby Clothing: Just look at all the designs of cloth training pants in this shop (is it possible to be smitten with underwear, because these are so adorable!).
Looking for more fun patterns? Lots to choose from with Blueberry Trainers.
What did I use as a mama?
When I was shopping for toddler underwear as a mama, I stumbled on hemp cloth training pants. (This was long before I became a potty training consultant.)
For me, first came cloth diapers. Then came cloth training pants.
Back when we lived in Brooklyn, I often peeked into a local baby shop (now called Wild Was Mama). I bought my daughter’s cloth diapers there, so it felt natural to scout out underwear picks at the same trusted spot.
And much like squeezing peaches to test out at the grocery store, it was the FEEL of the cloth training pants that prompted me to buy our cloth training pants. In the shop, I found piles of earthy green and eggplant purple hemp cloth trainers. They felt soft and substantial. They looked super easy for my 22-month-old to push down.
They were winners.
They washed well, stayed soft, handled minor dribbles, and looked super sweet. They were worth the $12 a-pair investment I spent on them.
Here's why they were worth it:
1. You can pass cloth training pants onto the second child.
I cloth diapered my kids and loved having a stash of diapers ready to go when I had my second. It saves money in the long-run and is one step towards being mindful of sustainability (since I’m trying to work on simple changes in my everyday life.)
With quality cloth training pants, you'll likely be able to get a lot of wears out of them, too. Now our outgrown set of cloth training pants rotate between dressing up Giraffey and Unicorn on my kids’ beds. Back in the day, those handmade cloth training pants handled wash-after-wash for my kids. We had about 10-12 pairs to transition from diaper-free toddler to newly potty trained toddler.
2. Consider the material of potty training pants.
Have you ever bought toddler socks from H&M or seasonal socks from the dollar aisle at Target? Both spots hit the mark with fun, graphic patterns.
But honestly, I always kick myself after doing a quick buy on a set of their socks.
Because within weeks of wearing, the socks appear gray on the bottom. Cleaning solutions and oxygen brighteners fail to bring back the original punch of color. My hunch is it’s because the fabric is synthetic. And those socks are notorious for pilling.
So weeks after buying that cute cheap pair of socks for my kid, the socks look so worn that I want to throw them away...and start fresh. Ugh.
You can run into the same issue with toddler underwear.
Does your child ever get track marks? It's tougher to get those poop stains out of synthetic undies. Cheaper toddler undies also have elastic bands that stretch out after a season of use. They're dispensable.
Nothing wrong with throwaway undies. Sometimes convenience or affordability wins. But if you're looking for recommendations for toddler underwear that will last you longer — whether you posted your search on Facebook or not — consider better-made cloth training pants.
Oh, and my favorite jarred tomato sauce? Rao's Marinara for the win.
Illustration: Citrus and Mint Designs.