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The Pull Ups VS Diapers Debate: Which Is Better For What Age?

The Pull Ups VS Diapers Debate: Which Is Better For What Age?

The pull ups vs diapers debate has been a heated topic in the mamma world for ages, whether it be cost or efficiency, and it’s high time we get to the bottom of this.

When looking at pull ups vs diapers, people generally opt for the regular diaper until their little one gets to about 36 months of age, give or take a few months, then they swap over to a pull up diaper to make potty training easier.

However, nothing is forcing you to swap.

Pull ups are simply recommended because using them makes it a lot easier for moms to change their little one’s diaper while he’s standing up rather than having to lay him down on a changing table or on the floor to do so, something that’s especially hard once he learns how to walk and crawl.

Also, they make your child feel like a big kid as he’s one step closer to wearing regular underwear.

Using pull ups as a form of training pants helps your child adjust to the idea of pulling his underwear up and down to go to the potty.

They’re ideal for kiddos who still don’t have full control over their bowel movements and who need a bit of a crutch so they don’t get their pants messy while at daycare, making it easier to clean up.

That said, they can get a bit expensive over time which is why many moms advocate for longer use of regular diapers, even to help potty train kids.

RELATED: Must-Read Potty Training Books for Toddlers

This is especially so as the absorbency ends up being about the same amongst other factors.

However, there are some factors that are different.

I’ve done the research to help you figure out whether it’s worth paying the extra money for disposable training pants or if you should just stick to regular nappies to keep your child dry.

Pull Ups VS Diapers: The Facts

1. Pull up diapers

naked baby wearing diapers walking in the bedroom

So then, what’s the charm of pull ups?

First of all, you’ll find that the main drawcard is that they’re a lot easier to put on because they ditch the resealable tabs that many disposable nappies have.

This means that all you have to do to change your child’s nappy is pull it off and then put a new one on.

This might not sound like a big deal to you, but, in reality, this makes it a lot easier to change diapers when you have a really active child who won’t stay put during diapering.

They’re also ideal for every child who’s ready to start potty training because even your big boy is still likely to have a few problems with incontinence.

RELATED: Goodbye Diapers: 11 Best Potty Training Toilet Seats

That’s why you don’t want to immediately swap to regular underwear, unless you want to be cleaning poop from them for the duration of toilet training.

In that same vein, they help protect against accidental bedwetting later on down the line and they cover larger child sizes, mostly thanks to the stretchy waistband that replaces those resealable tabs.

Some of you might be thinking: If they’re so good, why not just use them from the start? After all, major brands like Huggies and Pampers offer pull ups, making them easily available.

Well, you can only find them in retail stores and on Amazon in size 3 or higher.

But, while they are a great help in the potty training process, they aren’t without their faults either.

As much as moms praise them for being better, it ends up being a truly subjective matter in the pull ups vs diapers discussion.

They’re just as absorbent as regular diapers, but in some cases, people claim that they absorb less.

That might be due to the stretchy waistband not offering a tight enough fit.

There’s also the fact that some moms prefer changing their kids’ diapers on a changing table with them laying down because they find that changing while standing up is harder for them.

Plus, do keep in mind that you have to completely remove your child’s pants if you’re to slide on a fresh new pair of training pants while regular diapers can be done by just pulling the pants down.

This is made even more cumbersome if your child is wearing sneakers.

There’s also one final matter which is related to the price because, on average, pull up diapers tend to cost around 5 cents more per diaper.

It might not seem like a big deal at first, but when you realize that your child is going to go through over 6000 diapers during his childhood, you’ll see just how much money that racks up to.

Money that could’ve been used for other expenses – an important thing to keep in mind for all you budget-conscious mammas.

If you’re still considering pull ups, my personal recommendation would be to go for either Huggies Nappy Pants or Pampers Easy Ups to get the best bang for your buck.


• Easier to pull down

• Act like a transition between diaper and regular underwear

• Smaller sizes last longer when transitioning thanks to the stretchy elastic waistband

• Great safety measure for kids who haven’t mastered their bladder quite yet

• Absorbency similar to that of disposable diapers

• Great for preventing nighttime bedwetting

• Makes your child feel like he’s growing up

• Easier for people who prefer to change their kids standing up

• There are pull up options for older kids as well


• Only come in sizes 3 and up

• Fewer options to choose from on the market

• Pricier than disposable diapers

• Takes longer to change a child who’s wearing anything over a diaper like pants or similar

• Absorbency, while similar to disposables, isn’t quite as good as some of the disposable diapers’ best options.

2. Disposable diapers

young mother changing baby diapers on the bed

Next up to the plate are regular disposables.

Once again, the main difference between pull ups vs diapers is that diapers come with tabs on the side that help you adjust the fit on your child.

Regular disposables are usually re-sealable but they sometimes tend to wear out and lose their stickiness, especially if the diaper expires.

Regardless, they should still be good enough to keep your child safe from having to waddle around in his own mess and they’ll make sure to keep his pants safe from his bowel movements.

​They’re somewhat more absorbent than pull ups and for that very reason, are an ideal choice for overnight diapers, allowing kids to sleep soundly even if accidental bedwetting occurs.

The regular nappies also have a lot more options available when shopping online, from all-natural diapers to ones tailor-made to fit certain criteria depending on preference.

Plus, they’re available from size 0 all the way to size 7 should your child require a pair and they’re slightly cheaper too.

A good estimate is that, over the course of diaper use, they’ll end up saving you around 35-36% more money than you would if you began using pull ups when your child reached his 2nd birthday.

They’re also a lot better if you want to save time changing your kids’ diapers.

While some might claim that using pull ups actually makes changing quicker and easier, that would only be true if their kids weren’t wearing any pants or shoes to begin with.

If they were, they’d have to take those off first to be able to put the diaper on and then put them back on which tends to waste quite a bit of time.

Meanwhile, for disposable diapers with resealable tabs, all it takes is just pulling the pants down, ripping the old pair off, wiping the mess off the child’s skin, putting on a fresh new pair, and pulling the pants back up.

It’s a process that ends up being a lot simpler and quicker once you gain some experience, not to mention that disposables are still preferable for diaper changes that occur lying down which some parents find a lot easier.

Even in cases where you have a very active child who doesn’t want to stay put and just wants to explore even with a mess in his pants, you can invest in an anti-roll changing mat to assist with that problem.

It’ll cost you 20-30$ at most and it’ll last you a lifetime while still making disposable diapers more budget-friendly.

When it came to my children, I opted for the disposable diaper option with my first child as I had to pinch my pennies at the start.

The first time I tried pull ups with my second one, I found that I preferred to change my boy standing up due to him being quite calm during diaper changes.

That said, I didn’t find many options for organic pull ups so I ended up rotating back to regular, disposable diapers so I could keep my green mamma status.


• More options to pick from overall

• Cheaper than pull ups in the long run without losing out on quality

• Slightly more absorbent than pull up diapers, helping retain the feeling of dryness for longer periods of time making them a more viable option for overnight use

• Better for parents who prefer to change their little one’s diaper on a changing table or on the floor

• Changes take a lot less time as well, even when standing up if your child is calm

• You can get an anti-roll changing mat to make up for a physically active child while still saving more money than by using pull up diapers exclusively.

• Better for overnight use overall

• Come in size 0 all the way to size 7


• Resealable tabs might wear out if diapers aren’t stored properly and are left to ‘expire’

• Your child might still feel like he’s not really making progress if he’s stuck in diapers the whole time instead of training pants

• Smaller sizes need to be swapped out quickly for most models as the tabs on the side aren’t as flexible as the stretchy elastic waistbands of the pull ups

So, Which One Is Better Then?

baby diapers with teddy bear toy in the baby room on the table

Honestly, it’s really tough to decide.

Both are very absorbent thanks to the sodium polyacrylate filling, though many people claim that disposables are more potent as far as that factor is concerned.

From personal experience, I’d say that that idea might come from the fact that the disposable diapers can be secured tighter than the pull up nappies as the tabs on the sides are essentially velcro while the latter has a looser waistband, slightly compromising the effectiveness.

The other big argument is the changing speed between the two, a point that varies greatly from parent to parent.

When looking at the two in a vacuum, disposable diapers are better for parents who prefer changing their kids on changing tables or laying down on the floor.

The fact that you can just pull the pants down and unseal the tabs to pull the diaper off quickly as well as put the fresh one on after cleaning the kiddo up makes it a great option for this purpose, but it might not be as ideal if your child is an active little rascal.

Your child might not feel as though he’s progressing in his growth if he’s stuck in diapers all the time and hasn’t progressed to training pants or regular underwear.

Should that be the case, it’s better to pick the pull ups as they’re as easy to pull down as a regular pair of cotton underwear and just as easy to pull back up, making changing diapers while standing up a breeze and they make your little one feel like a big kid.

The only problem comes with the added time of having to remove your child’s shoes and pants as you can’t exactly pull a pair of diaper underwear over them which might add a bit to the timer, but it shouldn’t be too big of a problem.

If it is, then you can go back to using the disposable diapers by getting an anti-roll changing mat to help keep your child steady.

It’ll make the changings faster than that of pull ups, but if you don’t like having to use extra baby gear, then the training pants are the way to go.

Ultimately, it really comes down to what diapering style suits you best as the differences in time are negligible.

The final aspect where there’s a noticeable difference is the price.

People have done the math and it turns out that you save about 5 cents per diaper if you opt for going exclusively down the route of disposable diapers over the pull-ups.

While it might not seem like much when looking at one diaper, that’s an overall 36% of your diaper budget saved that can be used to keep up with other expenses.

When you take into consideration just how many diapers you’ll need over the years (which is usually somewhere between 6000-6500), 5 cents turns into a bit over 300$ on average.

That amount might not mean much to some, but it’s a godsend to others.

With all these things in mind, it might seem like the disposable diapers win, however, it also depends on what your kiddo finds comfortable himself.

The other comparisons in the pull ups vs diapers contest are minor, but the feeling of accomplishment that your child gets from putting his big kid pants on far outweighs the price category as well as all the rest.

If you find that he enjoys the fact that he’s growing up, going with the pull ups would be the right choice in my opinion.

adorable baby boy lying on the floor with diapers all around

In Conclusion

The pull ups vs diapers competition is usually a heated debate, with only a handful of aspects setting them apart from one another.

Ultimately, it all boils down to price, comfort, levels of absorption, and the changing speed, all of which, except the first are subjective, varying from person to person.

The price aspect might push disposable diapers as the more favorable option for families that are on a tight budget while the changing speed might tip the scales in either direction depending on if you prefer to change the diaper with the little one standing up or laying down.

In the end, as with all other products, it’s up to you to make the choice that’s right for you.

Whether you go with Huggies or Luvs, or another diaper brand, I’m sure you’ll be able to make the right one with all of this information laid out, mamma.

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