I'm apologizing in advance for what is going to be a very long post, but I want to make sure I get all the info in that I was wishing I had while shopping.
A few months back we switched to cloth diapers from disposables for many reasons (environmental, financial, Spice's 'sposie sensitivity, etc). I haven't regretted it for a second. Since Sugar is in the early stages of pottytraining though, I wanted something that was a little faster for up and down than a full snappied prefold and cover like we use on Spice. That and after switching her to cloth diapers we saw immediately how much less she liked sitting around in wet pants when she could actually feel that they were wet and we hope this will help her be more ready to potty-learn than she was in 'sposies!
I started looking into cloth pull-up training pants and decided in a hurry that we needed something absorbent and waterproof enough to hold at least one full accident so at least semi-waterproof was the first requirement on the list. I also was amazed at how much some of these things cost! I'm sure they're great but for trainers that we're only going to use on one child for (hopefully) a few months I just couldn't see spending twice or three times what I did on my one-size pocket diapers that can be used nearly all the way through diapering. Even figuring in reselling when we were done with them I couldn't stomach the idea of buying a full complement of something like Antsy Pants even though they do look adorable and functional. I decided to limit it to trainers that could be had new for $10 a piece or less with a little shopping around and when buying a reasonable amount of pants for training one kiddo who was still having drastically more misses than hits in the potty department. I tried to figure in shipping too since all but possibly the Gerber pants depending on your area have to be purchased online. This is for the size my daughters are currently wearing so it may end up being a touch more than $10 per trainer with shipping for some of them in larger sizes. I spent less on several of them as some were second-hand from the forum on diaperswappers.com and some just cost less new. Rather than buy all of one kind not knowing what would work for us, I bought several to compare and since I couldn't find a very good list of options in this price range online anywhere I thought I'd post my opinions for anyone else who was looking.
The seven trainers I ended up buying were, in no particular order: Bright Bots Essential Training Pants, Kushies Waterproof Pull-On Training Pant (not the lightweight taffeta variety), QTBunns Potty Training Pull Up (on Etsy), Gerber All-in-One Waterproof Trainer, Gerber Cotton Training Pants w/ Gerber Vinyl Pants, Potty Patty 2 in 1 Waterproof PUL Training Pants, Potty Patty Potty Training Pants - Padded w/ Fleece Cover. I tried each trainer/combo at least twice and I tried them on both my girls just to test the fit on different kids in the weight range. Both Sugar and Spice are about 25 lbs but Sugar has 4 inches on Spice so I thought that was a pretty good comparison of a naturally lean kid to one that still has baby chub. I'm adding laundry info too on how well they did going through the cycle with my regular diaper routine. It's enough to keep microfiber inserts from developing stinkies so it should be enough for trainers too. I did turn all the trainers inside out for washing and drying. A trainer that could hold up to the dryer was a must as with all those layers of padding I'd have a hard time getting them dry in the ever drizzling Northwest otherwise. Most of these are all-in-ones but there are two training pant/cover options. They did take a little longer to put on but I didn't find the trainer/cover sets to take any longer to pull down for pottying as they just come down together.
Gerber All-in-One Waterproof Trainer-
These were our least favorite of the seven options. They are bulky and noisy and Sugar seemed to think they weren't very comfortable either. These trainers seemed to leak frequently on the first accident even if the whole pad wasn't wet as though the liquid was just running off the fabric if they weren't adjusted perfectly which seems to be totally possible since it is a very tightly woven, slick cotton fabric for the lining. At first I thought maybe they just needed a few turns in the wash but that didn't seem to help. They also didn't perform very well in the wash when it came to coming clean after a pooey accident, sometimes staining and more than once needing a second turn through the laundry cycle to remove all the smell from the padding. They do seem to fit both girls equally well, although since the fit isn't perfect with either, you could also say they fit both equally poorly. Also sizing is confusing as we've found a 24 months, a 2T and a 2T-3T option currently for sale in these. There are 2 girl colors, 2 boy options and white.
Gerber Cotton Training Pants w/ Gerber Vinyl Pants-
The cotton trainer/vinyl pant combo from Gerber definitely performed better than the All-in-Ones from the same. The cotton trainers are fairly thin but as long as you make a relatively fast catch after an accident has occurred the vinyl pants do a good job of keeping your home puddle free. The cotton trainers fit well and I think they'll be a nice last step before regular undies but the vinyl pants are the bulkiest and noisiest of all the trainers we tried. The cotton pants also wash well but take care not to let the vinyl covers slip into your dryer as they'll easily melt. The vinyl pants also seem to hold onto the smells from the diaper pail but I think this could be helped by keeping them in a separate container until wash day. The cloth pants have some stretch and fit both girls well although they are a little hard to get up over the chunkiest part of Spice's thighs and I think a size up may leave them loose in the waistband. There are a handful of limited colors and patterns in each for boys, girls and neutral.
Bright Bots Essential Training Pants-
I actually really like these terrycloth Australian training pants. They fit trimly and seem well constructed. Sugar seemed to find them very comfy and I actually had to put our pair up to keep her from requesting them. The only reason they didn't score higher is because we're not quite ready for them at this stage of training as the waterproof section is just a large strip down the center which allows for too much leaking with a full pee from her. I anticipate pulling them back out for outings and naps as an undie alternative when we've progressed to the mostly trained stage. If your little one is already to the point of being able to stop an accident part way through or if you're mostly just looking for something that's going to keep puddles off the floor but you don't mind having to possibly change clothes if it means faster training, these would probably be a great fit for you. I just wish they made a fully waterproof option for those who aren't quite ready! They launder beautifully and are a great fit on both kiddos because of the terry stretch at the sides. They come in plenty of solid colors, both bright and pastel and are very cute.
Kushies Waterproof Pull-On Training Pants- These are a sturdy, well constructed trainer The outer fabric is slightly stiff but effective (NO dampness leaks through) and they have plenty of absorbent padding and a soft flannel interior. They're not noisy and Sugar seems to find them pretty comfy. They are a little puffy due to the way they're seamed and the fact that in order to have enough padding there has got to be some bulk. The only real problem with them is the waistband. There is a soft piece of fabric rolled over the top for the waistband that is nice and comfy on the skin which would be fine except it wicks moisture as soon as they pants are wet! Watch closely with these and you'll be ok but they're definitely not the greatest for in the car or anywhere that there's not an easily accessible change of clothes around in case of damp spots. It's really too bad since otherwise I think they'd make a decent nap/light night alternative even. The stiff outer fabric does seem to cut down on the fit versatility and these cut in a little bit at the leg openings for Spice. She didn't act uncomfortable but they did leave some redness. These trainers didn't seem to have any real trouble in the wash other than some light discoloration if I we were out somewhere and one sat in the wetbag before I could spray out any ickies with the sprayer. The discoloration faded easily with repeated washings or sunning. They do come in a few different little colorful prints on white backgrounds or in all white. (I have not tried their Lightweight Taffeta Trainers at this point but, while very cute and although I love the Kushies taffeta wetbags I have, they appear to have the same rolled waistband. If anyone knows whether these have the same wicking problems or not, please mention it in the comments and I'll add that info.)
Potty Patty/Scotty 2 in 1 Waterproof PUL Training Pants-
These trainers have a PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) outer shell and soft cotton on the inside with absorbent padding in between. These were comfy, trim fitting and definitely absorbent enough to hold a full accident although I wouldn't want to risk them for nap unless I knew I'd be able to get baby up as soon immediately when they woke. Sugar seemed to find them comfortable although they weren't her favorite. The outer PUL stretches in a way that the other exterior fabrics don't which is part of what allows for the trimness as well as allowing a good fit for both kiddos. I had no laundry issues with these and because they're fairly thin, if I had to line dry and wanted an all-in-one I think this would be the best bet. They do only come in one design, white with little bright pink Potty Patty logos (or blue Potty Scotty logos) printed all over.
Potty Patty/Scotty Training Pants -Padded w/ Fleece Cover:
Although this is another 2 piece system and therefore a little more work to get on they still get high marks from me for several reasons. First this is the most breathable combo by far since it uses fleece for the water barrier layer. Then there's the fact that economically they're a great bet. The trainers are relatively inexpensive and you don't need a full complement of fleece covers as you can reuse them a time or two over a clean trainer as long as they haven't gotten any ickies on them. Also in the economy column is that many cloth diapering families already have fleece covers like we did (or you could substitute wool, whatever you had in a pullup variety that fit) and could get by with just buying the trainers. Once little one is ready, the trainers could be used without the fleece overs as a stepping stone to just regular panties too. The Potty Patty/Scotty cloth trainers may resemble the Gerber cloth trainers at first glance but there is really no comparison. These are slightly thicker with better absorbent padding, seem better constructed and are, according to Sugar, "nice and comfy". They're a good fit on both girls and have plenty of stretch so they fit snugly without leaving marks (read no pee dripping out the leg holes into the fleece cover before it has time to absorb). I use these at night sometimes and just fold a preemie prefold the right width to fit the crotch between the trainer and the cover. Another extra step in putting on but no more trouble to pull down. We've never had leaking problems with this combination. I'm not specifically listing a fleece cover brand because I just use what I've got which is 3 Mile High Monkeys soakers and one pair of fleece longies. If you don't already have fleece covers check out etsy or just look for some thickish fleece pants (cut them down if you'd rather have shorts.) Because fleece covers for diapers come in soaker length (think panties), shorties (shorts), longies (long pants) and skirties (any of the others with a skirt sewn on top) you don't need another pair of pants over this option which can make it very trim. If you do have both the trainer and the fleece under pants or a diaper cover they can be a bit bulky. No laundry issues with this one and if you're willing to deal with the two piece thing this is hands down the best pick for the line dryer. The Potty Patty/Scotty trainers don't score high marks in the appearance column (the same blue or pink logos as the waterproof variety) but the huge amount of different styles, patterns and colors of fleece covers that are out there more than makes up for that.
QTBunns Potty Training Pull Up-
This was by far the favorite for both Sugar and for me. These are homemade by a grandma in Alaska who sells online which is a plus right there. Supporting small businesswomen, great customer service, being able to make some custom choices and knowing that if you have a problem you'll get a response is worth a lot in my book. On Etsy "qtbunns" is both the seller name and the shop name. She appears to have a site being built at http://www.qtbunns.com/ and I believe she sells on E-bay too. The trainers are soft flannel for the interior and exterior with a hidden PUL layer and plenty of padding sandwiched in between. The stitching is very sturdy and is of an overlock or serge variety instead of stitched and turned which allows for a very trim fit at the hips and waist even with the multiple layers and the generous absorbent padding where it's needed. I think it's this stitching style that also seems to prevent any wicking from the soft inner layers to the outer one. These trainers have never leaked for us, even during nap or overnight and Sugar, while not a supersoaker, does still have full on accidents overnight. They fit both girls nicely and were snug at the waist and legs without leaving red marks. We had exactly zero problems laundering these. Even the time that Sugar had a poo accident when we were away from home and they sat in the wetbag in the hot car for hours before I could get them home and sprayed they washed completely clean with no odor or staining. When it comes to appearance these are the best of the bunch. They come in plenty of choices of colors and patterns for the exterior flannel (and if you're willing to wait a bit you can choose your own prints from her selection) and are plain white on the inside where they contact delicate skin.
Overall, when we do this again (and we will since Spice will definitely be in a bigger size when she's ready to train than Sugar is in now) we'll be going with mostly QTBunns and a few Potty Patty/Scotty padded pants in fleece for spares and days when we really want the breathability. If you find these reviews useful, have questions about any of the trainers listed that I didn't answer, have anything else to add or want me to try out a trainer that you offer that fits the qualifications of under $10 a pair and waterproof leave comments. :)
My husband and I love those shows where they throw a guy out in the wilderness and he shows how to survive in seemingly impossible situations. The more I watch them, the more I realize that I likely will never need to survive in the Sahara or the Sub-Arctic. I do however find myself feeling on an almost daily basis as if I've been cast out into a strange world full of obstacles to tackle and unknown creatures to cope with. This will be the chronicle of one woman trying to survive the jungles of parenthood.