Diapers Vs Pull Ups—10 Clear Signs Your Child Is Ready To Switch

diapers vs pull ups

It’s not unusual for parents to start thinking about potty training as soon as their little ones become mobile and walk. 

Once they start to show signs of readiness and interest in going to the bathroom, parents should start potty training.

In the beginning stages, it can be challenging to figure out what steps you should take as far as what your child wears to prepare for the journey of becoming potty trained. 

As you start potty training, pull-ups, traditional diapers, and regular underwear are all options for your child.

This article will help you understand the difference between diapers vs pull ups. We’ll also discuss knowing when your toddler is ready to start potty training and tips from incontinence to complete potty training.

What are pull-ups?

Pull-ups aren’t regular diapers, but they basically do the same job as regular diapers. They contain the pee and hold in the poop. 

The main difference between diapers and pull ups is that regular diapers have tabs that you must manually attach to the front of the regular diaper. 

In contrast, pull-ups have an elastic waistband and are pulled up and down to simulate big kid underwear. It is specially convenient to have these in the diaper bag when on the go.

diapers vs pull ups

Pull-ups vs diapers when potty training

Many parents choose pull-up diapers for potty training because pull-ups look a lot like regular underwear, but you get to avoid the mess. 

The transition is often easier when a child can do the work of pulling down the training pants and get on the toilet or potty seat themselves.

Pull-ups are also a hit with toddlers because they are often colorful and have characters from children’s television shows and movies that are fun for kids.

A visible transition

Diapers and pull-ups are both effective when it comes to potty training. 

However, it is often easier for a toddler to understand that you are transitioning and learning a new skill when they go from baby diapers to disposable training pants to begin potty training.

If you introduce pull-ups to potty train, you may find a more willing participant in your toddler. 

If you decide to stick with regular disposable diapers, you may find that it takes longer to potty train. After all, what’s one more wet diaper? 

Pull-ups work to give a visual distinction that it’s time to potty train.


When it comes to pull ups vs diapers, it’s hard to ignore a cost difference. Diapers aren’t cheap, and many parents dream of the day when they no longer have to pay for diapers for their little ones.

Diapers and pull-ups are comparable in price, but pull-ups are typically a little more expensive, especially for big-name brands such as Pampers Easy Ups and Huggies Pull-Ups. 

You can find pull ups that are more affordable and work just as well, but keep in mind that not all pull ups are created equally.

Often, you get what you pay for, and cheaper diapers and diaper pants (pull-ups) can result in messy accidents due to poor-quality materials. 

Training underwear should be able to absorb the urine of older toddlers so that your child can forgo wearing diapers when you go somewhere because the pull-ups hold less urine.


They go by many names. Pull-ups. Diaper pants. Nappy pants. Training pants. 

No matter what you call them when you choose the pull up in the diapers vs pull ups debate, your next step will be choosing a brand and size that works for you.

Training pants come in a variety of brands and sizes. However, unlike diapers, you won’t find training pants in infant sizes. 

Pull-ups generally start at a size four, meaning that larger infants and toddlers are the target group for these. They also go all the way up to training pants for potty training well into school ages.


Diapers and pull-ups have absorbent material and layers and a waterproof outer layer. However, you may be disappointed if you look for a leak-proof experience with pull-ups.

Pull-ups are meant for little potty training; making them so absorbent that the child’s body isn’t wet after an accident is going to make potty training take longer.

Less absorbent than a diaper but more absorbent than wearing underwear; most parents like that a pull up won’t keep a child completely dry. 

Some pull ups even have “cold crystals” that cool the front of the diaper down when your child has an accident, making it more noticeable that they need a change.

As the baby grows, your child will learn that it can feel uncomfortable to sit in urine. 

Parents find that if a child has a pull up on and can easily pull it up and down, sitting in the soiled diaper or feeling wet or dirty may encourage a child to use the potty more often than if they were in diapers to avoid the upsetting feeling of being wet.

Ease of use

When looking at pull ups vs diapers for ease of use, it’s essential to remember that even though diapers and pull ups are made of the same material, they have different designs and fits, so they aren’t the same.

Older babies and young active toddlers will find that they can move around much more freely in a pull up. Pull-ups are less rigid than diapers, so they move with an active baby just like regular pants or underpants.

The apparent difference between the two products is the actual style. 

Diapers have taped strips that adhere to the diaper, meaning that you can tighten or loosen it depending on your child’s size. You will find less wiggle room when it comes to sizing and pull-ups.

Where as pull-ups just have the elastic band with some give, but not much.

When it comes to which choice is best for your child, you must keep your child’s personality, size, activity level, and habits in mind.

If your toddler takes off their diaper when they are going and runs around the house naked, but can’t get a pull up off without assistance, then the pull-ups may be a better choice for potty training.

Overnight use of pull-ups and diapers

The adhesive strips may be the most obvious difference visually between pull ups and diapers, but another major difference is how well they prevent leaks when used overnight.

Overnight diapers and pull-ups

Many brands claim their diapers or pull-ups are great for overnight use. Only you can decide if regular diapers and pull ups will do the job.

Toddlers typically pee a lot at night, and night training is often one of the most challenging parts of potty training a toddler. 

Diapers wick moisture away until they are so full that they start to leak. With multiple layers, your child may sleep well through the night and never wake up after an accident.

However, a pull up is less absorbent than a diaper, and your child may just end up waking up in a pool of pee in the middle of the night.

So you have to decide which one you prefer when having the diapers vs pull ups debate for nighttime use. 

Diapers will most likely hold more urine for longer, but when it comes to training your child to get up in the night to urinate, pull-ups will help more with that.

Pull ups vs diapers

How to tell if your child is ready for potty training

Most babies in the US are potty trained between the ages of 21 and 36 months. Some babies train late, and some train early, so this number is really just the average of an extensive set of results.

The best way to tell if your child is ready for the potty chair is to look for signs of readiness. 

Potty training readiness signs

For best results in determining when you should start your child’s journey of sitting on the toilet, the following are some signs to watch out for when deciding whether potty training is the right move for you and your child.

  1. Hiding or squatting in a corner or small space to urinate or defecate.
  2. Visibly uncomfortable when wet or soiled.
  3. Pulling at a wet or soiled diaper to get it away from the skin.
  4. Having more extended periods of dryness throughout the day.
  5. Waking up from naps with a dry diaper.
  6. Waking up from overnight sleeping with a dry diaper.
  7. Imitating sitting on the toilet with dolls or toys.
  8. Showing interest in sitting on the toilet or following a parent into the bathroom.
  9. Telling you, they need their diaper changed.
  10. Telling you, they need to potty.

Try to look for at least two of these signs before deciding the right time for potty training. Sometimes just one sign can be a coincidence or a fluke. 

A combination of signs is usually a pretty good indicator that it’s time to start sitting on a toilet.

Are you ready?

Potty training isn’t going to happen by itself, and putting your toddler in pull-ups isn’t going to result in instant potty training success. 

It takes dedication, motivation, and more than just a little bit of patience. 

Setting timers, using a reward system, and lots of encouragement are all ways to make the transition go more smoothly, but only you can decide what works best for you.

The Verdict: Pull Ups Vs Diapers

If you can ignore the slight price difference and experiment a little bit with what size you need and what brand works best, the pull-ups may be the better option for potty training your child. 

People successfully potty train without the use of a pull up all of the time. Still, most parents discover that it’s easier and their child is more willing when there is a visible and tangible pull up involved that looks different and fits differently.

You are the one in charge of making the right decisions for your family, and this is just another of those decisions you’ll have to make. 

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to potty training. You just have to figure out what works best for you and then dedicate yourself to it and stick with it. 

It’ll all be worth it when your little one no longer needs a diaper of any kind.

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