Our 21 month old toddler will use the potty when we leave her bottom bare - she has been successfully doing this for a month. Tired of cleaning stinky diapers, we leave her bottom bare when she is home.

She doesn't particularly enjoy wearing diapers, and when we put one on her, she doesn't take the initiative to tell us that she has to use the potty. However, when we have company over, we put a diaper on her.

We are trying to transition her into wearing panties; however, she is very opposed to them. She equates them with pants and doesn't want to wear them. While she is fully capable of dressing herself in pants, she hasn't mastered taking her pants off yet.

How do you introduce underwear to your child? When do people normally introduce underwear to their child? How do I explain the concept of having to take her panties off before using the potty?

We in no way want to discourage her use of the potty, as she seems to really enjoy pooing/peeing outside (she claps for herself whenever she uses the potty). But if she is interested in potty training herself, I do want to show her the concept of an underwear.

  • 4
    Have you considered a skirt with no underwear to start with? We've used that during the start because our daughter had the same problem with underwear, she couldn't take it off in time. Now that the first excitement about going potty is over, she has no issues with wearing underwear anymore because she's calmer and has now learned to take them off when she needs to.
    – Erik
    May 11, 2015 at 11:55
  • @Erik has a point. Why not just let her wear long t-shirts or "go commando" under skirts? My 4 yr old frequently wears just a t shirt to bed bc he has trouble getting his undies off if he wakes up to pee in the middle of the night-he's too sleepy to manage/remember. In regards to guests-I'm sure they realize your situation and don't expect the same level of modesty from your daughter as they would for an older, fully potty trained child...
    – Jax
    Aug 3, 2016 at 0:33

5 Answers 5


One helpful tip is to get underwear printed with characters she is really into, then anthropomorphize the underwear when she has an accident. "Oh, no! Princesses don't like to get peed on :-("

Also, continuing the diaper sometimes is a confusing signal. It's faster to do underwear full time, with the possible exception of pull-ups at night, and just deal with the accidents for a while.

  • I second your comment regarding diapers. It's either always or never. Quitting diapers cold turkey is the only way to do it!
    – Jax
    Aug 3, 2016 at 0:21
  • "Oh, no! Princesses don't like to get peed on :-(" seems quite misleading to me. I wouldn't do that.
    – Zajo
    Sep 29, 2017 at 12:28

It may not be that your daughter doesn't understand taking her panties off... she just hasn't mastered that skill yet-and in all the excitement of going potty, isn't able to work on it at that moment. An important aspect of toilet training is the removal of pants. Many experts that I've read state that being able to take off clothes (specifically the lower half: pant/skirt) is a requirement for toilet training. Otherwise, how can they actually go potty in the toilet? Look at this link for that and other cues to know the child is ready: http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/child-rearing-and-development/toilet-training/6-steps-d-day-diaper-free-day

I would suggest playing some games with her to help her want to learn to take off her clothes, if that's what you really want her to do right now-otherwise, take it easy and wait until she is ready in that way, as well. It won't be long. Both of my girls were ready and wanting to between 22-30 months...although many kids aren't ready until closer to 3.

Also, in this article: http://www.askdrsears.com/content/potty-training it suggests emptying the diaper/underwear into the toilet, when there's a poop accident. We did this with both of our kids saying, "Let's put the poop in the toilet where it goes/belongs." Helps them see that even with an accident, the poop still belongs in the toilet, not for Mommy/Daddy to clean up.

All of that being said, my 4yo still doesn't always like to take off her pants to go potty-no accidents, she just waits for someone else to do it. She is entirely capable of removing all of her clothing as she does it several times a day-there's just something about the bathroom that makes her not always want to. However, she has taken great strides in this and takes care of things herself more often than she used to. It will happen.

We didn't go directly from diaper to underwear-we went to pull-ups (which didn't work for either of our kids) to cloth training pants to underwear. There are some great cloth training pants on cloth diaper sites that I found to be more effective than the thinner Gerber ones I could find locally. They hold one pee without leaking (for the most part) but make them feel the wet, as opposed to diapers that keep them dry even when the diaper is wet..and our girls never noticed the cool core in the pull-ups (when they got wet) it didn't bother them in the least.

Here is an article discussing pros and cons of disposable training pants and underwear in toilet training: http://www.livestrong.com/article/113065-disposable-training-pants-vs.-underwear/

  • Thank you for your answer. She definitely knows that the poop belongs in the toilet (I empty her poo from diapers in there, and she flushes it. She...enjoys using the flush and says 'bye poo-poo'). I will look up cloth training pants, I hadn't heard of them before.
    – Swati
    Apr 13, 2012 at 18:57

One approach could be to buy her some undies with one of her favorite characters on them. If you know who that is, or ask her, then surprise her with the cool undies with the even cooler character on them. You will accomplish two things:

  1. She will want to wear them.
  2. She will not want to pee on them.

Enjoy that sweet little cucumber...


Firstly, the wearing panties part. Do you have a good reason for her wearing panties at home? If yes, tell her the reason. If not, why should she wear it?

Secondly, the taking off part. Being honest might help. Instead of "Princesses don't like to get peed on!" try to explain that as it gets wet, you have to wash it and that's what you don't want to do. It takes some time you two could have spent together.

Good luck.


Take her to stores and let her choose her underwear. Always helps. and when she wets them, just let her know that it is okay without an underwear, but just be truthful about the mess caused.

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