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Are Pull-Ups as Absorbent as Diapers? | If so, Which Are More Practical and Comfy for Your Baby? 

 November 7, 2022

By  Jaycen Mag

Pull-ups/disposable training pants, and diapers are all similar. Besides, they are a product of the same company. With all these, is there any difference between the two? When should you use diapers, and when should you use pull-ups? These are the questions you might be asking yourself. As far as kids are concerned, absorbency is a vital factor. So, are pull-ups as absorbent as diapers?

Key Takeaways

  • While pull-ups and diapers look the same, a transition point exists when kids leave diapers and turn to pull-ups.
  • While diapers are more absorbent than pull-ups, some pull-ups are just as absorbent as diapers.
  • No particular one between the two is superior to the other. Both have pros and cons at different stages of a baby's growth.
  • A pull-up is the right option to be used to start potty training. 

While you may use any of the two at different growth stages of your baby, many parents find diapers as the perfect starters for infants. They later transition to pull-ups when the baby grows to a certain age. Let's find out more about these two below.

Are Pull-Ups as Absorbent as Diapers? What Are They?

A pull-up, also called training pants, is a diaper with an elastic waistband and is more of a "big kid underwear" than a diaper. The waistband lets you pull the pull-up up or down. One thing about pull-ups is that they have many spaces inside to enhance the baby's comfort.

While diapers are more absorbent than pull-ups, some pull-ups are just as absorbent as diapers. Despite pull-ups having elasticated sides, they do not fit perfectly as diapers do. There may be gaps left between the pull-up and the baby's legs, leading to leaks. The gaps have an advantage; they let the kid pull the pull-up more easily.
A woman changing diapers on a baby

Diapers vs. Pull-Ups: What's the Difference?

While pull-ups and diapers have similarities, they also have many differences. These include:

Design

Diapers have two tabs that secure them in place. They fit snugly and can't pull up and down easily. You must undo a wet diaper before removing it; otherwise, it won't come off. This feature makes it an excellent option for babies.

On the other hand, pull-ups have an elastic waistband that allows you to pull them up or down easily; hence the name diaper pants. Putting them on and taking them off is much easier, making it convenient for potty-training toddlers.

Absorbency

Both diapers and pull-ups have a multilayer of absorbent materials. This material absorbs urine and holds it on as they have a waterproof outer layer.

However, most parents claim diapers are more absorbent than pull-ups. Pull-ups have many spaces which may leak out urine. Also, pull-ups don't fit snugly, which may lead to high leaking rates.

Not all pull-ups are the same—they vary depending on the brand. Some are more absorbent than others, which may be great for nighttime.

Price

Pull-ups retail at a higher price than diapers. However, the difference in the price margins is insignificant. Also, prices may vary from one brand to another. Other factors that impact the cost of pull-ups and diapers are features and style.

Size

A child between a lot of diapers

Diapers have varied sizes, ranging from 1 to 6. These sizes are based on baby weight. For instance, a size one diaper is meant for kids between 8 and 14lbs. The largest diaper, size six, is meant for kids with more than 35lbs weight.

Pull-ups also have varied sizes. However, their size classification is similar to that of clothes. Each pull-up size has a specific weight recommendation. Unlike diapers, pull-ups are larger, hence not best-suited for infants. Below is how pull-ups classify different sizes.

  • 12m to 18m - 14-26 lbs
  • 2T to 3T - 18 - 34 lbs
  • 3T to 4T - 32 - 40 lbs
  • 4T to 5T - 28 -50 lbs

Usage

Most parents prefer starting with normal diapers. Diapers fit well in newborns and have higher absorbance than training pants. Most of them begin using pull-ups when the baby starts potty training when they are at least two years of age.

Some manufacturers will claim that their pull-up brands are as good as diapers. They may recommend them for nighttime use. However, from experience, most parents disprove the manufacturer's claims. You can use pull-ups during the day, but at nighttime, you may need diapers for your toddler.

The best time to start using pull-ups is when your toddler starts crawling. The fact that they can be pulled down or up quickly makes them convenient for squirmy babies.

Diapers vs. Pull-Ups: Which One Is Better?

Depending on your child's needs, a diaper or a pull-up can be better than the other. In the early stages after birth, most parents find diapers better than pull-ups as they fit well and absorb most urine. As the baby grows and potty-trains, a pull-up becomes a much better option than a diaper. 

However, other parents prefer to use diapers, even when the child is in potty training. They argue that diapers are more affordable than pull-ups. Such parents transition their kids to underwear as soon as possible.

You know what your kid needs and what works best for them. So the choice is all yours.

Pull-Ups vs. Diapers: When Should I Transition From Pull-Ups to Diapers?

Baby lying down


There is no definite time to use either a diaper or a pull-up. However, many parents choose pull-ups over diapers when their kids gain independence. The kid may need to start their potty training journey at such a time. Introduce your kid to pull-ups when they begin potty training. That mostly happens when the kid turns between 18 months and 36 months. But as I said earlier, deciding when to start and stop using diapers or pull-ups depends on you and your toddler. You can even introduce pull-ups to your kids at six months of age.

You're not limited to pull-ups alone when using pull-ups for potty training. You can still use diapers. Furthermore, you can also interchange pull-ups, diapers, and underwear when you start potty training your child.

Smiling baby lying down

Note that if you do all pull-ups, ensure it is highly absorbent. Older kids already potty-trained may still mess up during the night. As pull-ups are available from 12 months to 5 years, it is up to you to decide when to start using them. Unsurprisingly, some parents don't use disposable training pants; some transition from diapers to regular underwear.

Should I Use Pull-Ups at Night?

Pull-ups have increasingly become popular as toddlers' best nighttime friend, especially during potty training. While the kid may freely use the potty during the day, they have no option at night but to fall deep asleep. In the process, they may accidentally wet the bed. To avoid such a mess, we recommend using a pull-up at night.

However, some parents opt to refrain from using pull-ups at night. Once their babies start potty training, they only use the diaper during the day and go diaper-free at night. They believe the diaper will remove the discomfort of wetting the bed at night. Therefore, your baby will not learn to hold themselves. Denying them diapers at night forces them to tune their body not to wet the bed but use the potty.

Baby lying in diapers with feet up

Are Pull-ups Bad for Potty Training?

Most parents introduce their kids to pull-ups when they begin potty training. But are they recommended for potty training? Professionals discourage parents from using pull-ups during potty training. They argue against using pull-ups, especially during the daytime, because toddlers won't understand how it feels to pee. They recommend transitioning to underwear directly.

Do Kids Feel Wet in Pull-ups?

No, kids do not feel wet in pull-ups. They have many spaces that readily absorb urine after the baby pee. However, pull-ups can not hold as much urine as diapers. The kid won't feel wet immediately, but after the pull-up exceeds its holding capacity, they may feel wet. Therefore, you should change your kid's pull-ups after a short while. 

Pull-Ups vs Diapers: The Pros and Cons

Pull-ups and diapers have several pros and cons, as listed below.

Pull Ups

Pros

  • Pull-ups are more comfortable for toddlers who are actively potty training.
  • You can use pull-ups for toddlers up to five years; something diapers can not achieve.
  • Pull-ups help the baby transition from one stage to the next. It is helpful as the baby gains freedom and starts using the potty.
  • Pull-ups make changing squirmy and uneasy babies more seamless, bringing the diaper-changing wrestling match to an end.

Cons

  • Pull-ups are more expensive than diapers.
  • Pull-ups have more space and do not fit snugly, which may lead to frequent leaks.
  • Pull-ups may cause kids to feel wet.

Diapers

Pros

  • Diapers are more absorbent than pull-ups.
  • Diapers are more affordable than pull-ups.
  • Diapers fit snugly, preventing leaks.

Cons

  • Diapers don't come off quickly, which may inconvenience your toddler when potty-training.
  • Diapers are smaller, which may limit grown-up kids from using them. The largest diaper is size six and suitable for kids of about 35 lbs only.
  • Diapers may be uncomfortable for squirmy babies.
White and blue diapers

FAQs

1. Do Pull-Ups Hold Pee Like a Diaper?

Yes, pull-ups may hold pee like a diaper. They have almost as good absorbency as diapers. Therefore, they are ideal for overnight use when your kid is potty training. Even when potty training, your kids have higher chances to pee on the bed. Boys have a higher chance of wetting the bed at night than girls.

2. Do Diapers or Pull-Ups Absorb More?

Diapers absorb more urine than pull-ups. Pull-ups have many spaces which may leak urine. Also, the room they left in between the legs may lead to more leaking.

3. Can Pull-Ups Be Used in Place of Diapers?

Yes, you can use pull-ups in place of diapers. However, pull-ups are not as good as diapers in absorbency. Manufacturers may claim that their pull-up brands are as good as diapers as a marketing point, but in reality, it isn't true.

4. Are Pull-Ups Absorbent for Overnight?

Yes, pull-ups are absorbent overnight. Pull-ups specifically meant for night use have a better absorbency, which helps keep the baby and bed dry all night.

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