How many do I need?
You want to consider your laundry ability and your level of activity out of the house when answering this question. For a child that is often at home and potty training, you will eventually level out at around six pairs. In the beginning, you will have a few accidents that will cause you to go through them quicker, which is fine. But letting some accidents happen outside the train is also a benefit. During your first 2-3 days or so, you may find yourself wishing you had 10 pairs but usually you can get by with a few and have one left over for the emergency car bag.
If you are out and about often and/or find your laundering capacity to be more limited than a load a day, you will want to have more trainers on hand. Same goes for daycare situations. Many daycares like to be provided with the same trainer's parents are using at home, which will look like two sets of 6-10. In any situation, ten training pants are going to be enough to get you through 24-48 hours and possibly have one on hold in the diaper bag but a frugal parent can make it with just six by just being ready for some accidents.
What is the difference between all the trainers?
Training pants widely vary in price and features. Through much trial and error, I’ve found some surprising information that can certainly be related to cost. I’d like to share with you, my very first experience with cloth trainers, which were Gerber training pants… They led me to understand the difference in cost.
Now, this gets a little long but bear with me and you'll know everything there is to know about training pants and their construction!
The amount of pieces sewn together to construct the trainer.
If a training pant you are considering is one piece front to back with binding at the legs and waist, it may be puffier on your kid. Go one step further and research for that particular trainer on google.com, then click the “images” tab and see all the home-based pictures there are of children in that trainer. This will give you a good idea of how it will look and fit on your kid and also how it might fit under clothing. A training pant made with more pattern pieces could cost a little more because of the additional labor but those extra pieces will craft a better fit.
PUL in the wet zone
PUL is an acronym for Polyurethane laminate and that sounds like some scary stuff, it's actually not. A disposable diaper is made out of plastic and so it is waterproof. Likewise, cloth waterproofing can be very successful when made with PUL. It is when you take a thin layer of polyester and a 1-millimeter layer of laminate and it is placed on top of it. A heat transfer process then binds those two layers together, making them one and you have PUL. It is very different, much thinner and more pliable than fabric from a shower curtain, which is made of vinyl. PUL is very thin and amazing at what it does. It is possibly one of the biggest reasons the cloth diaper industry has been so forward moving in the past decade.
Some training pants rely on padding in “the wet zone” and some trainers take it a step further and line the wet zone with PUL. As self-explanatory as the wet zone may be, I will clarify it anyways. The wet zone runs from about 3 inches below the belly button, down through the legs and up to the up the butt area. Training pants can include this waterproofing in this place only or take it further from the very top of the belly to the top of the butt. Some trainers put their PUL inside sandwiched between layers of cloth so you can’t see it.
Leg Construction - Fold over elastic (FOE) or Casing
Fold-over elastic is just what it sounds like. In trainers, it's typically 7/8” folded in half to hold the front and back of the edge, while providing stretch and give at the same time. It results in a smooth finish.
Casing can be done in two ways. An included casing is when a piece of elastic is applied internally to the edge (leg or waist) with the edge then folded inside out revealing a finished professional look. There is a top-stitch then placed 1/2” from the edge creating a casing, or tunnel that the elastic is held in. An included casing could be constructed over PUL in the wet zone, making a trainer less likely to leak through those areas. It results in a bunched up stretchy edge and can be a tad thicker then FOE.
An external casing is when a wider piece of fabric is folded in half and a thin piece of elastic is added inside that fold. That's casing is then added to the legs and waist of the trainer. This gives a nice smooth look and feel to the trainer. This type of casing is usually not waterproof. Both are still good and expectable choices. The trainers we feature in our book will tell you what type of leg and waist elastic they use.
Pocket for additional absorbency
It is getting more popular in modern trainers to have an additional thin piece of fabric sewn inside for the sole purpose of holding another piece of absorbency in place. You cannot tell from the outside of the trainer if it has a pocket and you certainly don’t need a pocket for it to be a good trainer.
Since training pants are supposed to be lightly absorbent, adding a cloth pad into your trainer could work against you. Providing too much absorbency will take any natural consequence of the child if he has an accident and it is in those natural consequence moments that we teach potty training.
There are, however, appropriate times for using more absorbency. When potty training naked or using cloth trainers, going back into a diaper when you need to leave the house, can really set the process back. You are now teaching your child that he only has to do this when it is convenient for you and him. This can open up the door for a mindset that says potty training is just one option among many. Children craftily revolt later by purposely peeing their pants over and over again and if parents aren't prepared for this, they find themselves thinking they potty trained too early and go back into diapers.
Well, we could just use an insert and make the training pant more what we need it to be without changing the look and feel of it, right? Right!
You can also use an insert when you put your toddler down for a nap or try to use your trainers at night.
We hope this helps you decide on what train giant you like the most! It is okay to try different brands but I wouldn't have them differ too much in look and feel, so your child has a sense of consistency and doesn't favor one more like a diaper, rather than a trainer.