The Controversy of Pull-Up Diapers

Your toddler is showing sides of potty training. She watches you use the toilet, she sits on it with the diaper still on, or she may even attempt to use it herself. The struggle is not only teaching your baby to understand her body, but what to put her in. Do you keep using diapers, switch to the pull up, or do directly into underwear? Most parents go to the pull-up, however there is some controversy as to whether that is the ideal method.

Benefits of the Pull-Up Diaper: The pull-up is considered the next step toward freedom because it mirrors underwear. The diaper can be pulled up and down the same way. This makes it easy for your baby to get to the potty, but catches accidents without any floor messes. Other benefits of this diaper include:

  • Parent Sanity: Underwear means there will be accidents. It means cleaning the floor and lots of bubble baths. It is even worse when you leave the house, never knowing if she is going to pee in the grocery store without telling you. The pull up makes it easy to leave the house without constantly wondering if today is going to be the day Target, and your food, is drenched in baby pee.
  • Thickness: A pull up is usually thinner than a normal diaper. This means your baby is going to find it more comfortable to wear and may not attempt streaking throughout the house.
  • Ease: Many parents actually start using a pull-up far before potty training begins. You know that stage, the one where your baby squirms, twists, kicks, yells, and punches getting her diaper changed. It is often a lot easier to pull the diaper down and pull a fresh one back up without any laying down. Imagine if the pull up could take the fight out of a diaper change.
  • Nighttime: Accidents at night are probably the worst. Your baby wakes up, you wake up. You have to change and clean your baby as well as the sheets on the bed. Often, your baby is then too awake to go back to sleep and a night party ensues. Pull-ups keep this party from getting started.

Disadvantages to the Pull Up: There really is one disadvantage to the pull up, which unfortunately pretty big. The pull up is still a diaper. This means all the urine is fully absorbed so your baby never learns they are wet. It turns into a never ending cycle. While accidents are a headache, these actually teach your baby to recognize their body’s signs that they need to get to a toilet. The pull up prevents this.

Other options instead of a pull up include cloth trainers that are made to absorb the first drops of pee and tell the baby she is wet. It does not prevent an accident. You can place rubber pants on as well if you want to keep it off the floor. You may also consider a pull-up made from natural materials. Unlike synthetic ones, they aren’t going to completely stop the wetness from being felt. Natural diapers will, though, hold the waste so you don’t have the overflow spill.

Whether you skip the pull-up or stay with it, ultimately you want to do what works for your family. Some daycare providers, for example, insist on the diapers. Like many baby products, you may find a mix of the pull-up with regular underwear works best for you. This generally means at night and when leaving the house, a pull up is put on. At home, your baby wears underwear. A situation like this is ideal because the baby can learn her body’s signals, and the parents still get some sanity. Reduce your use, but sleep well!


child sleeping