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Diapers and pull-ups are both options for children and adults with incontinence. Diapers are often the most cost effective for those with moderate to severe bladder and bowel incontinence, but they don’t last as long as pull-ups. Pull-ups are more like underwear and give the wearer a sense of “fitting in”. Pull-ups come in day/night options, but not all diapers do (some just have plain white sheets).

Diapers and pull ups are worn across all ages and genders. From children to seniors and everyone in between. So when we talk about what the differences are between diapers and pull ups are, we are also talking about adult diapers vs pull ups.

This is not about which one is better and which one wins. This is about which is better for you and your specific situations. Most people will need both and not choose either pull ups or diapers exclusively.

The industry is rife with various terminology for the same products. Here’s how to remember them. This is just some of the terms used in America. Other countries have their own colloquialisms.


Adult Diapers Pull Ups
Adult Briefs
Incontinence Pants
Incontinence Briefs
Incontinence Underwear
Diapers/Briefs with Tabs
Pull Up Diapers

Before we begin.

What is a Diaper

The Oxford dictionary defines a diaper as “a piece of absorbent material wrapped around a person’s bottom and between its legs to absorb and retain urine and feces.”

The key word in that definition is “wrapped around”. A diaper is something that opens up at the sides so you do not have to slide it up your legs. You simply place it behind you and then fold the other half between your legs toward your stomach and then use the side flaps or fasteners to fasten both sides of your diaper.

Adult diapers allows the wearer to defecate or urinate wither in motion or while sleeping. Adult diapers are generally preferred over pull ups for heavier absorption of urinary or fecal incontinence. Adult diapers come in the non woven and woven variety

What is a Pull Up

A pull up does everything a diaper does. The major difference is how you wear them. Pull ups are just like thick padded underwear. You slide them up and down your legs to put them on or take them off respectively.

Pull ups offer a certain level of convenience, especially when in motion or in a hurry. They are generally much more slimmer than a diaper and offer a more snug and discreet fit. Pull ups are generally for lighter and moderate fecal or urinary incontinence.

When Do You Choose a Diaper or a Pull Up

There is no definitive choice and we cannot clearly draw a line. It all depends on the wearer’s situation. A general guiding principles would be.

Choose a Pull Up if

  1. You need protection from light to moderate urinary incontinence
  2. You are looking for something discreet and not as noisy. If you have to go into work for instance.
  3. It’s a short period. You need to make a run to the grocery store, play a game of tennis, or take a bike ride.
  4. You are using this for yourself or a child for its ease of sliding up or down

Choose a Diaper if

  1. You are looking for light to heavy for both, urinary and fecal incontinence
  2. You require protection of 8 hours or more. There are great overnight diapers.
  3. Traveling for long periods. Summer vacation or an international flight.
  4. You are a caretaker for someone who is bedridden

Remember, these are just broad suggestions, Look at the wearer and their situation and make the best choice.

You can do almost any activity with a pull up or a diaper except swim. If you have to swim, pull ups come in pool ready underwear for both children and seniors.

Pull Ups or Diapers: Which is more expensive

Pull-ups are one of the most common types of underwear used by people with incontinence, but they can be expensive if you are purchasing them by the box. This can add up quickly if the wearer wears pull-ups every day or all day long!

If you’re looking for an affordable way to keep your child dry, then look no further than diapers! They’re just as absorbent as pull-ups without costing nearly as much money per month (or even per week).


Pull-ups are more like underwear, and many wearers like that they look like regular underwear because they give them a sense of “fitting in”.

Pull ups tend to be more expensive than diapers.


Do Pull Ups & Diapers Come in Day/Night Options

Yes pull ups and diapers come in both day and night options for with various absorption levels. Although, diapers have better leak protection, comfort, and odor guard. Pull ups by nature are sleek and aren’t built for the more heavy duty periods.

Diapers vs Pull Ups Comparison

See a more detailed side-by-side comparison of pull ups vs diapers. If you have any questions, please do leave us a comment.

FeatureDiapersPull Ups
CostAverageMore expensive than diapers
Urinary IncontinenceGreat for all levelsGreat for all levels
Fecal IncontinenceGreat for all levelsNot built for even moderate incontinence
ComfortVery comfortableVery comfortable
MobilityGood for mobilityExtremely great for mobility
DiscreetA bit more bulkierSleek and discreet
Noise while walkingRanges from quiet to rustlingBuilt for mobility. Very quiet.
Ease of wear for selfTakes time to adjust and put onPut on or take off in seconds
Ease of wear for patientEasier to manage for bedriddenNot as easy for patients not mobile

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