Training Pants vs Underwear for Potty Training

One of the biggest questions parents have when potty training their toddler is the training pants vs underwear question.

It’s a legitimate question.

Picking the right undies can have a big impact on how your toddler does with potty training.

Since there are as many different personalities as there are toddlers, there is no one right answer for everyone.

Every kid responds differently, so they best thing to do is to know your options and make the most informed decision based on things like convenience, cost, your toddler’s personality and anything else that is important to your family.

Let’s dive into the comparison.

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What are training pants?

Training pants are absorbent underwear worn by toddlers during potty training. They come in reusable cloth material like cotton or they come as disposable underpants.

Key differences between cloth and disposable training pants?

Before we compare training pants and regular underwear, here are some things that make cloth training pants and disposable training pants different.


  • Disposable training pants are more expensive than cloth training pants once you factor in time.
  • Some daycares require disposable training pants for potty training toddlers. Many won’t accept cloth.
  • Disposable training pants offer the absorbency of diapers, but they give your toddler the feeling of being in big kid underwear since they are pulled up like regular underwear.


  • Cloth training pants have a bigger upfront investment, but are cheaper in the long run because they are reusable.
  • Cloth training pants can be reused by siblings which saves money over time.
  • Kids will feel wet and uncomfortable since cloth is less absorbent.
  • Cloth training pants are the most similar to regular underwear.

These differences can help you decide which you’d rather use if you decide to go with training pants.

What are underwear?

Toddler underwear are just like big kid and adult underwear. They are non-absorbent and often used once a child is fully potty trained (although many parents use them during the potty training process so they’ll know how it feels to be wet).

Toddler underwear comes in many styles, fun characters and colors which can be motivating to some young kids.

Toddler underwear

What is the difference between training pants and underwear?

The biggest difference between training pants and underwear for toddlers is the absorbency. Underwear do not have built-in absorbency like training pants do so any accidents your toddler has will get all over their clothes.

Some other things to keep in mind about the differences between the two are that training pants can feel a lot like diapers to a toddlers.

Because of this, some kids use them as a crutch and don’t work as hard at potty training because they know they have something to catch the mess.

On the other hand, using regular underwear means you as the parent will have to worry about messy accidents not only at home but especially when you are out of the house.

Are training pants or underwear better for potty training a toddler?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you decide which will work better for your toddler. Remember, its child- and situation-dependent.

  1. Does my toddler have a lot of accidents during the day and am I able to do a lot of cleaning up afterwards?
  2. Is my toddler good at getting through the night and naps without wetting the bed?
  3. Does the thought of being a “big kid” wearing underwear motivate my toddler?
  4. Does my child’s daycare require training pants or are underwear accepted?

Answer these questions to make a practical decision about what is best for you.

The bottom line

There is no right or wrong way to do this. Pick the method and the underwear that work best for you.

If training pants fit your lifestyle better because there will be less mess to clean up, then go for it.

If you are all about keeping your toddler on track and making sure there’s no chance of confusion, go for the underwear.

Remember, choosing training pants vs underwear or vice versa doesn’t mean you’re stuck with your decision until potty training is over. You can always switch and try something different to see if that works better for you.

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