Defining the difference between training pants for potty training and pull-ups can be tricky as people often use the names interchangeably to describe both the disposable nappy style training pants and their reusable counterparts.
The name Pull-Ups is actually a registered trademark of a well known disposable nappy brand, and so most disposable training pants are actually referred to as potty training pants or training pants in official marketing and on the packaging. This is a great example of a brand name that has come to be used generically to describe a product like Hoover for a vacuum cleaner, band-aid for a plaster, sellotape for sticky tape, or Play-Doh for kids modelling clay.
In the same way that nappies can be either reusable or disposable so can potty training pants. But if we go with referring to the reusable version as training pants and the disposable version as pull-ups then there are a few key differences to be aware of.
Differences Between Reusable and Disposable Potty Training Pants
Both reusable potty training pants and disposable training pants or pull-ups are designed to be used to aid the transition out of nappies and help with the potty training process. The idea of both reusable and disposable options is that children can pull them up and down themselves meaning that so long as they know where the potty is they should be able to get to it and use it by themselves. However, beyond that, they are quite different.
For a start reusable training pants are reusable. You simply pop them in the washing machine like you would a normal pair of pants, dry them and wear them again. This is great both in environmental terms but also cost-wise. Potty training might be really quick but it generally takes somewhere between three and six months for children to get the hang of using the potty, longer for some, and accidents can be fairly common for many months especially if children are in different environments or busy and engaged doing other things.
Reusable training pants also look a lot more like big kid pants which results in two different benefits. One, children who are keen to not wear nappies any more feel like they are wearing big kid pants but have the benefit of a bit of added absorbency and so less soggy socks and shoes and less full outfit changes required if they have an accident. And two, because they look and feel different children don’t feel like they have the safety of a nappy which can happen if they are wearing disposable training pants, which can indeed be used instead of a nappy and are preferred by some parents once babies start running around as they are easier to put onto a moving child.
Finally reusable training pants are generally designed so that children feel the wetness if they have an accident so that they get used to the sensations of needing to use the potty resulting in their pants being wet.