Pull Ups vs Diapers: Your Questions Answered

review of pull ups vs diapers

This article is your go-to source for all questions related to pull-ups vs diapers.

Having gone through potty training with my own daughter, I’m here to answer your questions about pull-ups vs diapers and put to rest any myths and confusion surrounding them.

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What are pull ups?

  • Pull-ups are a type of diaper that are designed to be used by kids who are potty training. 
  • Pull-ups are similar to disposable underwear. They are made of absorbent materials (like a diaper), which means no messy leaks when your child poops or pees.
  • They come with leg cuffs that help keep messes from escaping onto clothing or shoes, making them an ideal choice for kids who are old enough to run around outside or play at school or daycare (and occasionally make a mess).

What’s the difference between pull ups and diapers?

  • The biggest difference between pull-ups and diapers is how they are designed to be taken off. Pull-ups are designed to be pulled up and down like underwear.
  • Diapers have side tabs that open for diaper changes. They are not designed to be pulled up and down.
  • Pull-up sides are made of stretchy material. Because the sides stretch, pull-ups are easy for kids to take off themselves when they go to the toilet! Toddlers can remove regular diapers, but can’t put them back on by themselves.
  • Pull-ups are form-fitting and breathable due to their elastic sides and leg cuffs. They provide more freedom of movement than diapers do. It’s hard to run in or jump around when you’re wearing a diaper, but it’s easy with pull-ups on! 
  • Pull-ups also give children a sense of independence over going to the bathroom by allowing them to remove their own underwear when they go potty.
  • Similar to diapers, some pull-ups have velcro side tabs that open and close. They still slide on and off easily, but the velcro allows for the fit to be adjusted. They are especially helpful if you need to change the diaper in the standing position but don’t want to take off their clothes or shoes (like when you are in a public bathroom).
potty training

When to use pull up diapers?

Pull-up diapers are a great option for your toddler who is potty training. Potty training can begin at different ages, but generally around age 2-3 years is when a child can be toilet trained.

Many parents transition to pull-ups when they begin potty training. This way when your child goes to sit on the toilet they can slide down their pull-ups as if they are wearing underwear. 

Some parents choose to start potty training before age two. Some children will take longer than others to train. And some parents opt not to use pull-ups at all.

There are many approaches to potty training. You will find what works for your family and child.

When we first introduced pull-ups, our daughter refused to wear them. We did not force the process. We reintroduced pull-ups when she was ready. Initially, we just used them during the day (because those were the hours we were focused on potty training).

As she progressed we transitioned to wearing them 24-hours a day. Once the pull-ups consistently stayed dry, we switched her to panties.

Are pull ups as absorbent as diapers?

This is an area of debate among parents. Many parents feel pull-ups are not as absorbent as diapers.

However, in my experience, pull-ups are as absorbent as diapers! We used Huggies Pull-Ups and we never had issues with leaking.

pull ups

Huggies Pull-Ups are a high-quality and reliable option for potty training.

Fortunately, there are a lot of great high-quality pull-up options to choose from. There are even pull-ups designed for heavy bedwetters.

Best pull-ups for heavy bedwetters

Goodnites are pull-up diapers specifically designed for heavy bedwetters.

Of course, absorbency may vary based on brand and fit. So make sure they fit snug (but not tight) to minimize leaks.

Are pull ups cheaper than diapers?

The cost between pull-ups and diapers is very similar. In general, you will pay pennies more per pull-up than per diaper. You can expect to pay approximately $4 more for a box of 100 pull-ups vs 100 diapers.

pull ups cost pennies more than diapers

The graph above shows my comparison of prices of 5 popular diaper brands. The Pampers and Natural Blossom brand cost 1 penny more per pull-up than per diaper. The Seventh Generation brand cost 8 cents more per pull-up than per diaper.

In case you are wondering how I came up with these numbers:

Methods: I searched Amazon for popular diaper brands using the brand name followed by the word “pull ups” or “diapers”. For example I searched “Huggies pull ups” and “Huggies diapers” as a comparison pair. I clicked the option that fit a 20 lb child. If there were multiple similar options, I clicked the cheapest option as that is typically how people shop. The price is charted in cents (USD) per diaper.

Yes, this is highly unscientific but it does represent actual costs of diapers vs pull-up prices that a shopper would encounter.

Are pull up diapers worth it?

Yes! They are a great potty training tool. 

Many features make pull-ups the ideal diaper for the potty training phase including: easy on/off, more freedom to move over diapers and they help build confidence.

Given that they cost only pennies more, pull-up diapers are totally worth it!

Can I use pull-ups as diapers?

Pull-ups are diapers, so yes they can be used as diapers.

Generally, if your child is not potty training, it makes more sense to use a regular diaper.

They are easier to open and close from the side tabs to check if your baby needs a diaper change, and they are designed to be taken on and off by lying your baby flat. But in a pinch, you could use a pull-up diaper as a diaper if you had to.

How to remove pull up diapers

From the standing position:

  • Pull the pull-up diaper down to the ankles
  • Then have your child step out of the diaper 


  • Pull the pull-up diaper down to the lower legs
  • Sit your child on the toilet
  • Then pull off the pull up while your child is seated on the toilet

If your child has pooped you may consider this next method. It is especially helpful if you are in a public bathroom and don’t want to take off their clothes and shoes. From the standing position (alternate method):

  • Tear the sides of the pull-up diaper (or open the velcro tabs)
  • Remove the diaper by pulling it out from between your child’s legs

From the lying position (similar to changing a regular diaper):

  • Tear the sides of the pull-up diaper (or open the velcro tabs)
  • Drop the front part of the diaper down between your child’s legs
  • Clean your child’s bottom with wet wipes
  • Pull out the dirty pull-up from under them

How to fold pull up diapers

You may be wondering how to fold pull-up diapers to dispose of them.

When you fold a regular diaper you roll it up and use the side tabs to secure it into the folded shape. This helps to contain the mess. The picture below shows what I’m referring to.

When removing a regular diaper, roll it up and use the side tabs to secure it into the folded shape.

Pull-up diapers are not designed to be folded up in the same way as regular diapers for disposal.

Pampers Cruisers 360 are pull-up diapers with tape on the back to secure the diaper into a ball when throwing them away. This is similar to how one would roll up a regular diaper to dispose of it. Interestingly, Pampers Cruisers 360 are marketed as diapers and not as training pants.

Pull ups or diapers at night?

Debating pull-ups vs diapers for bedtime? Pull-ups are like big boy and girl underwear. A common misconception is that pull-ups are less absorbent than diapers, but this is not true! Pull-ups can be used for overnight or heavy wetting protection.

goodnites: Pull Ups vs Diapers


In a nutshell, both pull ups and diapers are designed for the same purpose, but what you ultimately choose will likely depend on your own needs. That said, I do recommend pull-ups over diapers for the potty training phase – not only do they tend to be more comfortable, but they’re also much easier to put on kids of all ages than diapers.

But that’s just my two cents. The opinions of other parents vary. So if you’re still torn between pull-ups vs diapers, try them both out yourself and see which works best for you!

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You may also enjoy:

The Best Pull Up Diapers On The Market

Pull Ups with Velcro Sides: Best for Potty Training

How To Keep Your House Clean With A Toddler

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