The No-Mess-Disposable-Training-Pants ApproachThe method: Once you've determined your child is potty-friendly, switch him from regular diapers to disposable training pants. While he gets the hang of pulling them up and down like big-kid pants, you give the usual amount of encouragement -- taking him to the bathroom at regular intervals, asking him frequently if he has to go, giving lots of praise when he successfully gets to the potty in time.
Pros: Disposable trainers contain accidents, keeping cleanups to a minimum.
Cons: Training pants are more expensive than diapers, and many kids take longer to catch on because they don't get that uncomfortable sensation of urine running down their legs. "The very thing that makes them so great for parents can keep a child from even realizing that he's going to the bathroom," notes Lerner. "Kids need to have that chance to think, 'Wow! That's coming out of me!' Accidents are an important part of the process."
Who it worked for: "Our son, Thomas, who was three at the time, wasn't motivated in the least. So I used the disposable pants for about a month, until he got the hang of using the potty. Then we switched to underwear," says Michelle Frailey, of Hallstead, PA.
Is it right for you? If you don't mind waiting a little longer for results and you know you'll get annoyed if your child fails to perform, disposables will reduce the anxiety for both of you. You never want to resort to negativity or punishment, emphasizes Lerner, so if too much mess will put you over the edge, go the pull-up route.