Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just say no to pull-ups?

If you have read any of my potty training posts, you know that we neglected to buy any pull-up disposable training pants for our son. Oops. It wasn't an accident, of course. I started my potty training plans with big intentions toward cloth training pants, since we used cloth diapers, and spent a fair bit of time poking around my favorite cloth diaper shops online and looking at the training pants offerings. I wasn't surprised at how many options there are, nor that many are pretty expensive. With all the cloth diapering options out there, it stands to reason that there would be a lot in training pants as well.

Months ago I bought a three pack of Gerber training pants, thinking we would try them out and see if we really needed to unload so much cash to get our son potty trained in a eco- friendly way. However, by the time we really embarked on our first full-on potty training week, I had determined that the best course of action was to stick him in big boy underpants and skip any kind of training pant. We bought 10 pairs of character undies and used a few Gerber pants when we ran low. As an aside, I don't recommend the character undies. They were falling apart after a few washes. I have since purchased some from Carters and they are much higher quality. Cuter, too.

Yes, I did a lot of laundry that week, and for another week or so the loads were still more frequent that I would like. Now, we do maybe an extra load but the loads are a bit smaller. He does have accidents and I don't like to leave pee-soaked clothes sitting, but really he doesn't go through enough extra clothing that it's a burden.

But our trash? The same.

When I wander around one of those big club stores and see the giant cases of training pants, I can't help but wonder why people would spend that kind of money on something they are going to HOPE their child won't pee or poo in and so they can throw it away, essentially unused. Best case scenario, you are wasting your money. Worst case, you may as wekk just stay in diapers.

Then I see that they go up to a size 5T.

Now, come on, people! Okay, I get it. I do! I know that when both parents work, potty training the way we did it is not easy. Probably pretty difficult, in fact. Disposable trainers do make it easier by avoiding the mess. But they may just drag it out over months or even years, costing you time, money, and more than a little frustration.

Consider this:

Huggies offers the following training pants features:

  1. "easy open sides", which basically means you can continue to lie your child down to change him, which only confirms his suspicions that he is wearing a diaper. Call it whatever you want, it's still a diaper.
  2. Nighttime absorbancy. DIAPER. The goal is not for you child to sleep comfortably through nighttime urination.
  3. "cool alert". In what universe does it make sense for a child to feel coldness as a result of peeing? This seems confusing and ultimately, since they have already begun to urinate, probably not terribly effective.
  4. Character designs that fade away when wet. Presumably, your child is also wearing pants so I'm not sure what the point is, except that they'll be excited to get their diaper changed…

Pampers offers:

  1. Claim they hold 25% more than Huggies training pants. Do I need to say it?
  2. Claim to help make potty training "make sense". There is no further explanation. I have no idea what this means.
  3. "feel and learn" liner. They say that children feel wetness, helping them learn to stay dry. BUT I would argue that this is likely temporary, and not terribly uncomfortable, as the diaper itself absorbs most if not all of the liquid, so the discomfort does not compare to being naked or in just underpants, which leads to pee running down the leg, which leads to self-awareness and an understanding of where the pee comes from. But of course I have never peed in one so I wouldn't know.
  4. When you click on "Helpful Hints" under the product description, it explains the basics of…changing diapers.
  5. Pampers trainers also have designs that fade when wet. They are located below the cool Diego design that kids like so much. Diego doesn't fade. I think girls get Dora.


The first review that came up when I clicked on the tab at the Pampers site stated that the writer loves the product, thinks it is awesome, and wishes they came in a size 7. The second reviewer only bought them because a coupon made them cheaper than diapers and she recommends skipping them and going right into underpants because her child would rather use the training pant than the potty. She also says they look and feel and work just like a diaper, only with tear apart sides instead of tabs.

At the Huggies website, a rather annoying song plays that repeats itself in my head while I try to go to sleep at night. You know the one.

Yes, potty training is messy and messier if you skip these products. But it's cheaper and faster if you just grin and bear it, and the earth will thank you. Kimberly-Clark and Proctor & Gamble probably prefer if you keep your child in diapers until they outgrow the biggest size. Can you blame them? The price per diaper for training pants is much higher.

Both sites have long lists of things to look for for potty training "readiness". Ignore these. Your child does not have to be able to do the entire potty process without any assistance before he can be potty trained. You will be wiping bums for a while, so you may as well help pull clothes up and down, too. It isn't as gross as changing diapers, I promise. Especially when the tradeoff is getting rid of a stinky diaper pail.

Not a stay at home parent? Consider taking a week of vacation, and if you have a partner, have him or her take a second week following yours, and potty train with just underpants. Use whatever method makes sense to you, but be consistent. Then stick with undies as much as possible, using disposable pants only if your daycare requires it. Make sure to ask. It's possible that yours expects it, but understands that they prolong the process and they may be happy to skip them, too. If not, consider a greener option. Seventh Generation makes training pants, or your daycare may be willing to work with waterproof cloth trainers. Cloth trainers have excellent resale value!

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