My son will be 3 shortly. We've introduced him to the potty, and he happily sits on it (he even has a "sittin' on the potty" song he sings)... with his pants on.

On occasion, he will sit on the potty sans pants and diaper, especially at daycare, and one time his daycare provider even got him to pee in the toilet.

We recently started wondering if we should transition him to "pull-ups" to facilitate potty training. However, they're pretty expensive, and I don't want to make the transition if it won't make a positive impact.

Are they worthwhile? Is there a "right" time to make the transition?

  • Is there a "right time"? Sure. Can you know what time is the right time? No, you can't, so if it leads to failure and tears, you might want to pull back and try again in a month. Remember that there are three issues. The first is the physical ability to control those functions. The second is the desire to use the toilet over the diaper. The third is the mental ability to break away from the task at hand in time to make it to the toilet. If the you don't have the first, you have to wait.
    – Marc
    Jan 7, 2014 at 21:10

3 Answers 3


I hate to say this (and I SWEAR it's not a pun) but it depends. For our daughter, pull-ups were more of a hassle than they were worth. She treated them like a diaper and was not interested in going into big-kid undies until we took them away and replaced them with training panties (the thick kind that can be soiled without causing a level 4 hazmat incident). At that point, she took things seriously. We used them at night until she was ready to night-train, to slightly better effect, but still, not a good deal for her.

Now, for my nephew, pull-ups were the key. He was dragging his feet about training but the idea of being in big-boy pull-ups was intriguing, so he took them and then sailed right on to underpants.

So are they worthwhile? Depends on the kid and their motivation to train. Is there a right time to switch to them (or training pants of any other sort)? Let your child tell you; you'll know when they have gone from 'not sure if I need to go' to 'I need to go but I'm gonna ride this gravy train as far as I can.' When they get to the gravy train, time to go for training pants and drop the pull-ups. (I SWEAR these puns are not intentional!)

FWIW, I distinctly remember arguing with my parents around 18 months that I was old enough for big-girl panties. Mostly what I recall is the vast frustration that they just DIDN'T UNDERSTAND; after all, it was perfectly intelligible toddlerese. Neither of mine were NEAR ready at that stage. My son's pushing 30 months and still could care less.

  • 110% agree. My son could have cared less about pull-ups and moved straight into big boy underwear with the exception of wearing pull-ups at night until he got that under control. My daughter has done well with pull-ups and can wear the same one all day with no accidents if we're out and about (we're still working on stopping to use the potty when we're having fun). Buy a small pack and see what happens. Even if you find you can't use them during the day, you can still use them at nap time/bedtime so it's not like they won't be used at all.
    – Meg Coates
    Sep 5, 2013 at 13:18
  • 1
    It really does. I hate the concept of pull ups, but my 3.5 year old does NOT want to poop on the potty. He is not scared, he did it a few times - he just doesn't want to. He is totally pee trained, and went a MONTH pooping in his underwear. Putting him in pull up is less stress for all involved, and allows him to pee on the toilet.
    – Ida
    Sep 30, 2014 at 18:16

No, they don't. Kids find it similar to the regular diaper and they act like ther're wearing one. They need to feel more comfortable wearing regular underwear than wearing a diaper. Try it in the summer. Generally, kids like this idea. They are ready as soon as they can say "Mom/Dad, I need my potty" or something like that. And, of course, even after that, sometimes they forget about the potty.


I find pull-ups to be useful for a few things.

  • The early stages of potty training when your child is really just getting used to the idea of using the potty
  • When your child is in daycare and isn't fully trained
  • Travel and generally being out of the house when a toilet might not immediately be available

That being said, as previous posters have mentioned, it obviously depends on your child. Some children are confused switching back and forth between training pants, underwear, and pull ups. Some are not.

They are particularly useful for airplane travel with a recently potty trained child, and you can explain them as special travel underwear, as you can't always go to the bathroom when you want / need to on the plane.

We did a very gradual potty training with our eldest, using pullups when out of the house and training pants / underwear at home, and noticed no adverse effects, and the pull ups kept us from having to stay home the entire time during the early stages.

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