Quick Tip – How To Potty Train Your Baby If You Can’t Afford Training Pants

How to potty train if you can't afford training pants

Can I let you in on a secret?   Shhh. Come closer….

Are you ready?

Honestly, if I were to potty train my kids all over again, I probably wouldn’t bother with buying training pants that are only meant for potty training.

Now, I think training pants can come in handy (and I’ll share more on that in a second), but I just feel like people can think it is all or nothing–that if they can’t afford training pants (which can be pricey!) they are stuck with using disposable pull-up diapers. Here are some tips from my own experience, as well as some tips from readers:

1. Try The Naked Approach

When I started potty training my daughter, this was the #1 suggestion I got–from disposable diaperers AND cloth diaperers. Several parents swear by this approach—your child is naked for 3 days and by the end of it, you are officially the parent of a potty trained child! You can find more details in this article over at Growing a Jeweled Rose or this one at Your Modern Family.  Chat with your friends, and I bet you one of yours swears by this. Basically the premise is that your child will start to get annoyed with the feeling of pee running down his/her legs and will therefore start using the potty. BUT this does not work for everyone! I tried this on my daughter and it turned out that I was just a carpet cleaner for three days. She smiled with joy as pee just trickled down her legs–or sometimes she just didn’t even care.

2. Try The Underwear Approach

My mother in law SWORE by this method on all 7 of her children. She took them to the store and had them pick out their first pair of underwear. The kids got excited about the print they chose out, so then when they peed their pants, she would say, “Oh nooooo, you went pee pee in your _____ underwear! That’s a bummer!” Some people might not like this approach since it associates a negative connotation with peeing. Again, my child didn’t really care about peeing in her princess undies, but I have heard this method works for many!

3. Use Side Snapping Cloth Diapers

I swore by using these with my child. I would just fasten them a little more loosely and they would pull up and down quite easily. The more elasticity in the waist, the better it did. I personally had luck with the Peachy Green AI2 for this. The nice thing about this was since my daughter was a normal to heavy wetter up until the very day she could go diaper-free, this allowed me to catch her accidents without it soaking her clothes. From my experience using over a dozen training pants, I found that most on the market only held a small pee (which, in the case of my daughter, meant half a pee—-and that won’t work!). Reader Megan B explained how to do this with front-closured diapers: “When beginning potty training, snap just the outside snap onto the furthest snap and then use like a pull up. Then use the inside snap to get a good fit around the waist.”

4. Use Training Pants That Can Also Act As Swim Diapers

Charlie Banana came up with this for their training pants and I thought it was a GREAT idea. If you are going to buy training pants, it might as well be something that has a dual purpose, since hopefully you won’t be potty training for too long. There are downsides to some of these diapers (for example, you can read in my review of the Charlie Banana Training Pants/Swim diaper that I wish it had side snaps to help me take care of poop accidents) but at least you aren’t buying a stash of training pants that will be used for only a short period of time.


Now don’t go off telling people that I am anti-training pants. I do still use mine regularly. When we go on long road trips, we put my daughter in them just in case. I also use them as a part of my potty training stash. I’m just saying that if you can’t afford training pants, you have plenty of other options before using disposable pull-ups. If you do want to buy training pants, you can read my suggestions for what to look for in training pants. You can also read my article about some unconventional potty training tips that worked for my daughter.


If you potty trained your child, what method did you use?


Have a “Quick Tip” of your own to share? Submit it to us and if we like it we will feature it in an upcoming blog post (and credit you for it, if you’d like!) 


Tara Porter

Tara Porter

Tara Porter began using cloth diapers in 2011 when she felt that using disposable diapers was costing too much money. The problem was, a lot of the highly recommended diapers weren’t working for her baby. What she finally discovered was that her baby was skinny and a heavy wetter, and that diapers worked differently for those baby types. Because of her professional work with survey design and statistics, she designed Padded Tush Stats as a way to determine how different cloth diapers worked on different babies.

Tara moved on to other career endeavors in 2014 but can still be found online blogging about health and fitness at Fit Baby Steps.
Tara Porter


  1. Kate says

    Training pants didn’t work at all for either of my kids. They treated them exactly like their cloth diapers (which was gross) so I gave up after a few days. Both of them did best just being naked and then transitioning to underwear. The underwear transition went pretty smoothly; it was the transition to pants (particularly for my son) that was hard. His pre-school teachers suggested pull on waterproof covers over the underwear to protect his pants so that’s what we did at school for over a month. One day he just stopped peeing in his pants at school and that was it.

  2. Becky @ Your Modern Family says

  3. meljc says

    Naked at home didn’t do it for us. I got padded undies that we still use at home — I think these are great because even once the padding isn’t necessary, they can still be used like regular underwear for a new trainee. However, we currently have 7 (soon to be 9) Grovia trainers and I love them! DS has a perfect record at home, but he wears them to preschool because he sometimes has pee accidents (and often poop accidents) while there. We also use them for car trips and outings to take the pressure off of us and DS. But they’re no hassle to pull up and down when we use public restrooms and DS does not treat them as diapers that should be peed in.

  4. Rachel says

    I did the 3-day method with my daughter but used undies instead of naked, and she did great! She was 20 months, and she has been a champ. She still has accidents occasionally (only poop though, pretty much– she is almost flawless with pee), so there are occasionally little messes to clean up, but not much, and she LOVES her elmo undies and minnie mouse undies so much that she does NOT want to go potty in them. She has gotten better and better about telling me when she needs to go lately, and she just started sleeping in undies, too, since she has been waking up dry consistently. I’ve heard it is just SO different from kid to kid– mine was just ready early, and potty-trained fast. I pray the rest of mine are the same way, but we’ll see!! :)

  5. auschick says

    I started letting my daughter have a naked butt during the day at around 23 months. whenever she peed she’d say “uh oh!”. I got her 3 pairs of thick Hanna Anderssen undies from the outlet ($4 each!) Which she loves because they have flowers on them. They seem to hold a fair among of pee. Her favorite undies are some normal hello kitty ones and she gets quite upset when they get wet. It took a few months but she is mostly trained during the day at home (26 months) and we have started venturing out with undies on since she likes using public toilets and normally goes on them! I often have her without undies at home still and keep baby legs on her. This means she can just run to the toilet when she needs to go (hasn’t mastered taking off her pants yet).

  6. Karen - mom to 4 says

    There is the middle ground. Gerber training pants come in packs of 3 at Target or BRU and are about the same cost as underwear. It is a little thicker to catch little bits of pee (not full pees). I train my kids in these at home. When we go out, I did invest in more expensive trainers (Imse Vimse) but we only have 6-8 pairs and they are good for catching bigger little messes. They look/feel like underwear and not a diaper so less confusion about putting away the diapers for good. I don’t switch the kids to picture underwear until I know that they are really trained and not having accidents…too much mess otherwise. My kids wore the Gerber underwear for the first 6 months to 1 year after training…they are underwear. The best part…both the Imse Vimse (which were also my night time option once they were mostly night trained) and the Gerber pants last forever. They will be used for the 4th time in my family within the next year (hopefully) and I have also lent them out to friends. So, yeah, I got my money’s worth.

  7. Sara Johnson says

    I only have 1 so far, but the 3 days of naked time worked like a charm! We figured it would, because if any of her diapers ever leaked, she freaked out. She absolutely hated pee running down her legs. I definitely agree that every child is different, and some absolutely don’t care. I know we were extremely spoiled to have potty trained so easily and so early (22 months), and I’m pretty positive it won’t be so nice the second time around.

  8. BoiseFamily says

    I’ve used all but #4 over the years and I’ve used Pull-Ups too. The main benefit of Pull-Ups when I used them was that I didn’t have to worry about an accident while running errands or at church. However, now that I’ve found WunderUnders’ hybrids, I would much rather use those for errands than Pull-Ups. The heavier duty inserts really do capture a whole pee. =)

    Although I’ve never had a child magically trained in three days, and I’ve been through this process seven times, I do still suggest people have some nakey time. For my girls I did comfy dresses for modesty and for my boys long t-shirts. Boys need to learn modesty too after all. Yes, there was plenty of floor and carpet cleaning but I felt it helped my kids to start realizing a certain feeling meant they were going to pee. When they peed in a diaper, Pull-Up, or cloth trainer they didn’t really seem to care. If I was unaware of the accident, life went on for them without interruption.

    Like your child, my kiddos weren’t too sad about peeing on the pictures in their big kid underwear. Still, I think it’s worth a shot for those who feel confident they won’t be dealing with poopy accidents.

    I haven’t used side snapping diapers but I have used FuzziBunz Perfect Size for a night time trainer for toddler/pre-schoolers. I have also used regular snapping diapers like trainer undies. Truthfully, not all kids care where their accident occurs (diaper, undies, etc.), so for someone on a budget I’d suggest nakey-time plus snapping diapers turned trainers.

    Thanks for writing this post Tara. I think I will need to pin it to my Potty Training/Learning Board. Here’s a link in case any of your readers are interested. http://www.pinterest.com/boisewiebers/potty-learning-training/


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>