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Diapers & Pull-Ups
During Toilet Training

Most sources recommend that when you begin toilet training, discontinue the use of diapers during the day and have your child wear only underwear, if possible. Your child can use a diaper or pull-up at night until he is ready to begin night time toilet training (see Part 20: Toilet Training at Night).

Follow your schedule that includes regular toilet trips throughout the day. While accidents are likely, the underwear helps your child learn the feeling of being wet unlike diapers that wick away any wetness keeping the material dry that is against the skin. During toilet training change clothing as soon as possible any time your child has an accident. Getting used to the feeling of having wet or soiled underwear can slow down the training process.

If your child becomes upset about wearing underwear instead of a diaper or panics when the diaper is removed, you may have to gradually discontinue the use of the diaper. There may be several reasons for the negative reaction to wearing underwear instead of a diaper. Your child may prefer the diaper because he is accustomed to its weight and snug pressure at the waist and the legs. Your child may also be resistant to the change in routine that the underwear represents.

Methods for Making the Transition From Diaper to Underwear

  • “Cut away” method
    Begin by placing the diaper over the underwear. Gradually cut away the diaper beginning with a small hole at the crotch. Expand the hole each day until the waistband is the only part remaining.
  • “Loosening” method
    Using a diaper with tabs, fasten it loosely over the underwear making the diaper a little looser each day. Eventually you will not fasten the tabs at all. By this time, the child often does not mind that the diaper is likely to fall off leaving him wearing only the underwear.
  • “Mixed” method
    Begin by having your child wear the underwear for only a few minutes followed by positive reinforcement. Gradually extend the amount of time your child wears the underwear before going back to the diaper. If needed, add “wearing underwear” times to the daily schedule that also includes regular toilet trips.

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