Underwear vs Disposable Training Pants (pull ups)
OK, before I start, I want to stress that this post is based 100% on my opinions and experiences and is in no way meant to cause any kind of bad publicity towards any of the companies that manufacture or sell disposable training pants. When I say to pull ups, I am referring to all types and brands of disposable training pants.
Now that I've got that out of the way, here goes!
Based on my experiences, pull ups are a waste of time and money for children who are just starting to potty train. These children are, for the most part, too young to understand the difference between these products and the diapers they have been wearing for their entire existence. For this reason, I always recommend going straight from diapers to underwear.
Yes, there are going to be accidents. Yes, there is going to be laundry. But this is inevitable. Even if you do pull ups first, you are apt to have the accidents and laundry when you finally do make the switch to underwear. Using underwear usually results in faster training.
Many children really do need to experience the uncomfortable feeling of peeing in their underwear and having it run down their leg and pool in their running shoe to understand why they shouldn't do it. Like disposable diapers, most pull up type products are designed to pull moisture away from the skin to keep the child feeling dry. If you are potty training, you want the child to feel the wet in order to learn to associate the feeling of having to pee with actually peeing.
I also find that I am less diligent about making frequent trips to the potty with a child who is in pull ups as I know that even if they do have an accident, it won't result in the same mess as if they were to have an accident while in underwear. Sometimes when you are busy with something else when a child says "I have to pee" it is just easier to respond with "It's OK, you are in a pull up" than to stop what you are doing and take them to the potty. I know it's not the right way to do things, but it is the easy way and human nature often pushes us towards the easy path.
If you aren't ready to take the leap into underwear, but want to start working on potty training, save yourself some time and money and stick with diapers. Most disposable training pants require you to take off pants and shoes in order to put a new one on, which frankly, is a pain in the ass. Diapers are quicker, easier and cheaper! (There are some brands of disposable underwear that do have velcro to open the legs, but that doesn't eliminate the other negative points.)
All in all, pull ups in the beginning stages of potty training only prolong the process and eliminate laundry. Not worth the expense, if you ask me!
Now, that being said, there are times when disposable training pants are a good choice for your potty training child. When your child is getting close to being completely potty trained, pull ups are wonderful for long car rides and outings where you may not have quick or easy access to a washroom. Once a child reaches this point in their training, they probably will be able to understand the difference between a diaper and pull up. And if wearing a diaper, many children will think that they don't have to try to use the washroom. Pull ups are also a good option for children who are having difficulty with night training.
I am not suggesting that your child will not potty train successfully if you use disposable underwear. For some children, they work. Some parents swear by them. But for me, in daycare, they really are more trouble than they are worth and I cringe every time a parent brings or suggests pull ups for their child. And whenever possible, I do everything in my power to talk them out of pull ups and into underwear. And as a parent with a toddler who is rapidly approaching the potty training phase, I can't justify the extra expense to have my son wear pull ups all the time. I will be keeping him in a diaper until we are ready for underwear.
But, like any parenting decision, just because this is what's best for me, doesn't mean that it's what's best for you!