The Difference Between Pull-Ups and Diapers

The Difference Between Pull-Ups and Diapers

There are many things that new parents have to become accustomed to once their baby finally arrives—from feeding schedules to sleeping schedules to just learning how to adjust their entire existence to accommodate for their new bundle of joy. Another thing that new parents have to get used to? Changing diapers. 

“But there are so many different kinds of diapers!” I hear you cry through the computer screen. Yes, indeed, one of the more confusing aspects of diapers is just that there are so many different variations and brands of diapers on the market today! This often leaves many new parents scratching their heads wondering if they’re getting the correct kind. One of the questions that often comes up is what exactly the difference is between “pull-ups” and “regular diapers” really is. 

Luckily for parents, they share many of the same features. The main difference is that pull-ups work much like underwear, designed to pull up and down and secure itself around your baby’s waist in a similar manner. Diapers, on the other hand, are a little more primitive in their design—secured with taped strips on either side rather than hugging your baby like underwear.  

In this article, we’ll talk a little bit more about the main differences between pull-ups and diapers, explore their pros and cons, and find out when the best time might be to make the switch from one to the other!

Table of Contents


The good news is pull-ups and diapers both perform the same basic function: keeping your baby’s bottom covered and contained until they’re old enough to begin potty training. In this regard, they both do their jobs well enough! 

But there are a few key differences in their design that may make one more appropriate for your parenting needs than the other. Some of these factors are: 

  • Design
  • Size
  • Absorbency
  • Usage

In the following sections, we’ll talk about these points more in-depth and hopefully help you learn which of these two diaper types is most appropriate for your child’s needs. 


The most obvious difference between diapers and pull-ups is in their design. 

Regular diapers are designed with two tape tabs on either side, which are used to secure the diaper in place and prevent it from being pulled up and down. This makes them the perfect choice for babies and younger toddlers because once they’re on, they tend to stay put until you change them. 

Pull-ups, or “training pants,” on the other hand, feature an elastic waistband that allows for easy movement up and down—reminiscent of a pair of underwear. They are generally easier for your child put on and take off themselves, making them perfect to help your child in the transition from diapers to potty training. 


When it comes to sizing, disposable diapers come in sizes that range from 1-6. This sizing doesn’t have to do so much with how old your child is, but how much they weigh

Size 1 diapers are designed to be used on babies that weigh 8-14 lbs, for example, while Size 6 diapers are for babies that weigh more than 35 lbs. The following list shows these sizes and their corresponding weight recommendations:

  • Size 1 for babies 8-14 lbs
  • Size 2 for babies 12-18 lbs
  • Size 3 for babies 16-28 lbs
  • Size 4 for babies 22-37 lbs
  • Size 5 for babies larger than 27 lbs
  • Size 6 for babies that are larger than 35 lbs

Pull-Ups, in comparison, are sized more like normal toddler clothing and also come with the same sizing recommendations as diapers: meaning they go more by weight than by age. 

Whereas diapers come in sizes numbered from 1-6, Pull-Ups come in sizes from 2T-5T, with the corresponding weight recommendations as follows:

  • 2T-3T for toddlers that weight 18-34 lbs
  • 3T-4T for toddlers weighing 32-40 lbs
  • 4T-5T for toddlers weighing 38-50 lbs


Undoubtedly one of the most important things when looking at diaper brands is a particular diaper’s absorbency, which refers to how well it can hold moisture before it starts to leak. 

In this regard, both pull-ups and diapers are designed with multiple layers of absorbent material for absorption and also contain a waterproof outer layer to help prevent leakage—and at this, they both tend to do their jobs fairly well. 

Most parents who have used both pull-ups and diapers, however, have said that pull-ups tend to be less absorbent than diapers and, in effect, are more prone to leaking. 

However, some brands of pull-ups are designed to be more absorbent than others, such as the overnight variety, and are more comfortable for some kids than others. Newer parents may need to experiment some to find the best fit for their child!


Most likely the biggest difference between diapers and pull-ups is the intention that they were designed with. 

Pull-ups are most often used with older children who are making the transition to more independence with their toilet training, while diapers are intended for those children who are too young for such adventures. 

Some parents also find pull-ups to be particularly useful once their babies begin to crawl, stand, and move around more, as diaper changes can get difficult with a baby that is constantly wriggling and moving around. 


At the end of the day, whether you choose to use diapers or pull-ups is entirely up to you and the comfort of your child. 

As we’ve seen in this article, each is designed in its own way and offers its own pros and cons. It ultimately comes down to a variety of factors like your unique circumstances, your family’s lifestyle, as well as your little one’s age, and their current stage of development. 

With any luck, this article has helped to clear up some of the confusion surrounding this subject and has aided in helping you decide which diaper type is the best one for you!

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