Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Training Pants training

Until last year, cloth diaper manufacturers seemed to give little thought to training pants, which is surprising given the tendency for many parents to rely on training pants as a way to transition children from diapers to underwear.  Training pants provide protection when a child who is potty learning has an accident (and unless you wait to train him until he is 18 years old, there will be accidents.  Lots of them!). 

When parents come into the store for potty training advice, we take them on a tour of all of our training pants, we have a pretty good selection, and different training pants are better-suited to certain situations.  Regardless of their differences, something they all have in common is limited absorbency.  Since training pants are not meant to hold more than one pee, you should not treat it like a diaper -- your little one cannot wear the same training pants for 2-3 hours with multiple accidents.  For this reason, you want to introduce training pants only when your little one is ready for toilet training, and more importantly, when you are ready for toilet training.  The onus is on you at the beginning to do all the work (unless you wait to train him until he is 18 years old) -- if you're not willing to put in the effort, it may be best to wait rather than push on with toilet training.

Limited absorbency aside, training pants can be easily pulled up and down, making it easy for little ones to use a potty or toilet unassisted, and they are typically lined with fabric that holds moisture, meaning a child will feel wet when has an accident; feeling wet is a great motivator for children to use a potty or a toilet!  These similarities aside, there are subtle differences between different types of training pants that make them better-suited to different stages of potty training.
One-piece, non-adjustable training pants, like those manufactured by Bummis, are durable, and they work well.  A downside to these training pants for some parents is that they fit poofy (no, it's not a 'real' word, but I bet you know what I mean, right?), however, as long as the legs and waist fit snugly, the poofiness is only an aesthetic issue.  The Bummis training pants are ideal for a child who is new to potty training, they will hold an accident well, and they will buy you some time (if you're at the grocery store, for example, and you don't have a change of training pants with you).  However, if your child poops in the training pants, taking them off can be tricky (your little one will stand up, while you gently slide the training pants down -- it's about as pleasant as it sounds!). 

Bummis training pants are sized, when a child sits at a weight range that is between two sizes, we generally recommend parents buy the smaller size, since they are not adjustable.  If you size up, the training pants may not fit properly, and training pants are (hopefully!) a short-term piece of clothing, so you shouldn't buy them with the mindset your child will wear them for a long time.

Side-snapping training pants make changing poop accidents a little easier -- rather than pulling the training pants (and the poop!) down, you simply open the sides of the training pants to take them off.  Both Cotton Babies and GroVia have recently released side-snapping training pants, both of which are one-size affairs, the flip trainers fit 20-50 lbs and the GroVia trainers fit 18-35 lbs.  A one-size training pant takes the guesswork out of sizing, if a child takes longer to toilet train overnight, one-size training pants can accommodate a larger child (the GroVia trianers can be extended with larger side-flex panels).

Some training pants, like the daytime trainers manufactured by Blueberry diapers, are only partially waterproof, these trainers must be changed relatively soon after an accident, the wetness will eventually wick throughout the training pants if they are not changed quickly.  These training pants are meant for children who are almost fully potty trained -- they provide a little more absorbency than underwear, offering a little protection when needed (on Grandma's new sofa, for example).  Since these trainers are not fully waterproof, they are not suitable for nighttime use.

In terms of how many training pants parents should buy, we generally recommend purchasing 3-5 pairs.  It's very easy to treat training pants like diapers, when your child is wearing underwear, there is more incentive to offer the potty on a regular basis (if they have an accident in underwear, it's more work to clean up than simply changing their training pants).

Good luck!