Cloth Pottytraining Options

potty trainingMy baby sister was learning to use the toilet at about the same time that Pull-Ups first hit the market. After cloth diapering me, my mom swore never again to wash a diaper and used disposables for both of my younger sisters. When Pull-Ups came out, my mom jumped on board right away, thinking she wouldn’t have to wash stinky accident undies, either. Unfortunately for my mom though, in my little sister’s case, Pull-Ups were not a potty training tool, but just a diaper that was pulled on instead of being taped in place. They definitely didn’t work as a toilet training device.

Fast forward a zillion years to now, and not only are Pull-Ups and several competitors still around (apparently they do work for some kids), there’s a whole new market of cloth trainers out there. So what’s the deal with these, and do they work?

First up, the old school Gerber training pants. These were around in my day. They’re basically undies with a two-ply crotch and front area. These aren’t designed to hold back a flood; rather, they can absorb a little trickle if the child has waited a bit too long to go potty. They’re thin so they fit easily under pants. When I was little, mom would put little vinyl pants over the top as well if she needed them to be waterproof. Nowadays, you also have the option of wool as a waterproof cover; some people use lanolized underwoolies over training underwear, which are thin enough to fit under pants and come in cute colors to wear under dresses. Gerber training pants are useful with children that are already for the most part toilet trained, and just need a little extra barrier now and then.

Next up are modern training pants. These are often sold by cloth diaper companies and are more absorbent (and have more bulk) than the thinner gerber pants. They usually come with a layer of PUL sandwiched inside, so they are waterproof with smaller accidents, but they don’t have the gussets and whatnot of a regular diaper so they probably won’t contain major floods or explosions. Pants should still fit over these (though with more of a diaper-like fit due to their bulk) and they pull up so the child wearing them gets practice with this. These are useful if you aren’t fully confident in your child’s toilet-using abilities when going out of the house especially, and also for naptime insurance.

Finally, the closest option to both a cloth diaper and a disposable Pull-Up is a hybrid trainer, which use inserts and operate similarly to an AI2 diaper. These are waterproof due to their PUL outer, and you can customize the inserts depending on any fiber sensitivities or absorption needs. They have a non-bulky fit (thinner than a cloth diaper). Because they look and perform the most like a diaper, this can work for or against you. My oldest was night trained using these because they looked and felt like diapers and he didn’t want to have to wear a diaper to bed like a baby. I offered him the option of these or using the toilet only and he decided on the toilet. On the other hand, my youngest decided they were diapers and used them as such, with absolutely zero hang-ups on them being “for babies.”

Meaghan Howard is currently a stay-at-home mom and enjoying living overseas with her husband and two young children. She enjoys traveling, running, and the most excellent sport of all time, dragon boat.

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