Our Gentle, Montessori Inspired Approach to Toilet Learning: Stage 2 ‘Training Pants’

If you read my Stage 1 post you’ll know that we introduced a potty a little while back as part of Althea’s self care routine. She has been sitting on it upon waking up in the morning, before and after her nap and before and after her evening bath. We have a potty set up in each bathroom but we now also keep the IKEA LILLA potty with us in the playroom or out in the garden just in case. It’s still rare that we catch anything in it but it’s something that has become a habit for her and should therefore make future potty use a little easier.

Althea is at the stage where she knows when she is doing a wee and will announce it (loudly) but isn’t yet telling us before hand. She is not a fan of wearing a nappy at all anymore, you turn your back for 30 seconds and there’s a bare bum rushing past you. We do allow Althea some time without a nappy and this seemed to increase her awareness of her bodily functions so I decided to introduce training pants for use at home. She puts these on first thing in the morning and then if we go out we try to use a cloth nappy (rather than a disposable as these still allow her to feel that she is wet – we use the Close Parent Pop-in in Bamboo.)

We have times when she will tell us that she is doing a wee or that she is already wet and needs changing and times when she is obviously just too busy and we have to ask if she is wet. When this is the case we gently encourage her to take off the pants, sit on the potty and then choose some new pants to put on. I say ‘gently’ because we don’t want to make using the training pants and potty a negative experience. If she is playing we allow her a little time to finish what she is doing (and in the meantime clean up any leaks).

We have 3 different brands of training pants in our collection

+ Kanga Care lil learnerz


These are the most expensive of the 3 brands but also the most absorbent making them ideal for very early toilet learning. They still allow for the child to feel that they are wet but they tend not to leak. We have the size small which can be pulled on like regular pants but they also have side snaps which makes them a lot more convenient for messy accidents. You can also add their newborn 6r bamboo soaker for added protection during outings or naps.

+ Bambino Mio Training Pants


These were the first ones we tried and are probably better suited to the stage Althea is currently at because it is more obvious to her when they are wet. They still contain most of the wee but they do not have a waterproof shell like the little learnerz so the outside also feels damp/wet. She can pull these on and off easily and she really likes the ones with patterns on.

+ Gerber Training Pants


These are by far the most affordable but offer the least protection from leaks. They have a slightly padded panel at the front which will contain little dribbles but not a full on accident. That being said these allow her the most awareness and she is keen to take them off straight away once they are wet. For now we are putting these aside for when she is at the stage when she is more able to tell us that she needs to go to the potty. For now I may ccasionally use them when we’re out in the garden and puddles aren’t an issue.

Altogether we have 15 pairs. At the moment we’re probably going through about 5 or 6 a day.

We’re fortunate to have tiled and hardwood floors so using training pants at this stage is a viable option for us. I am also a stay-at-home mum so I don’t have to think about how to make this approach work in a childcare setting (although if this were the case I’d be keen to find a setting that would allow the use of cloth nappies and I would also consider using the lil learnerz with a booster).

In terms of furniture protection I have been using the IKEA LEN mattress protector on our sofa’s in case of leaks and we have these mattress protectors on our beds.

Once Althea is showing signs of being ready to go out in her training pants we have this Summer Infant Pad to use in her pushchair and carseat.

The approach we are taking is in no way about getting Althea ‘potty trained’ quickly and early. I expect we will be rinsing training pants through for a while to come and there will inevitably be set backs. But instead it is about taking a gradual, child oriented approach and introducing the idea to her during what is believed to be a sensitive period for toilet learning.

Recommended Reading:

Here is a fantastic series of posts by How We Montessori documenting how she has approached toilet learning with her children

If you are weighing up training pant options I also recommend this post over on The Kavanaugh Report.

I would love to hear about your own approach to toilet learning and your favourite brand of training pants.