I remember potty training a little too vividly. For a while, I was sure I should've named my daughter "Puddles" instead of choosing to name her for my aunt. I did a combo of training pants and panties, but many moms deep into the milestone wonder, "should my toddler wear underwear when potty training?" I dug into some research to see what the latest literature suggests as the best method.
The internet, your local bookstore, your mother-in-law, and that one dude over there are all completely awash in potty training advice. You can't turn around without finding some well-meaning pediatrician or elimination expert telling you the best way to help your kid not crap themselves anymore.
How do you wade through the muck of it all to find the best solution for you and your family? It's not as simple as it sounds, believe you me. If it was me, and I needed to know if my toddler should wear underwear when potty training, my answer may be different from yours. For one thing, the American Academy of Pediatrics noted that children are able to go from diapers straight to underpants, but might need help overnight and may need several clean-ups in the meantime. But that doesn't help people like me who live in the city and may not have a washer and dryer in their homes, and let's be honest, not many of us want to hand wash dirty underwear in the tub.
The Mayo Clinic, on the other hand, doesn't even mention underwear when talking about potty training. The only matter they discuss is readiness. Is your child interested in going to the potty? Can they sit on the potty and manage to do their business? Can they hold it long enough if you were to go out?
I asked pediatric nurse Sara Lewis of Brookline, Massachusetts what she thought were the best methods surrounding underpants and potty training. She tells Romper that "Pull-Ups are convenient and quick for cleaning up, but they're just going to delay the process. They do such a good job at wicking the moisture away from the skin that the child doesn't really care if they wet themselves." She says that Pull-Ups are a good choice for overnights and long trips, though. I know that for us, Pull-Ups were a must any time we stepped foot on a train. You just never know how long a subway commute will be, and there's little room for error with potty training toddlers.
"Honestly, when you're at home, you can let them run around with nothing on for a few days, at least until they really understand the cues their body is telling them," Lewis adds. "Use cute underwear as a reward if you can. I've found that most little kids respond to fancy new underwear almost as much as they respond to bribery when it comes to potty training."
In the end, the choice of whether or not to use underwear when potty training is a personal one. It will depend on your circumstances and just how much laundry you can afford to do — not to mention how much your child wants to don their new Wonder Woman underoos. If that's the case, you may want to get yourself a matching pair — you know, for encouragement.