Split Pants vs. Leg Warmers for Elimination Communication

You don't need anything special to use elimination communication with your baby, but some baby clothing choices certainly make it easier to help your baby potty.  Split pants and leg warmers are two choices available to diaper-free families.  Which one is better?  Here's our experience!

I've tried to keep Corwin diaper-free during the day on most days.  Corwin “scoots” around on his bottom, so I try to keep his bottom covered with tiny undies to prevent rug burn 😉  He usually wears a weather-appropriate shirt.  I don't use many bodysuits (“onesies”) because they just get in the way, but sometimes I'll put him in one and snap it up to the side while we're at home.  I pair the top with either leg warmers or split pants.

leg warmers and split pants

Leg Warmers

Leg warmers have become really popular in recent years.  That means they're easy to find and easy to ask for as gifts.  They also come in lots of cute prints and designs!

They're easy to get on and off the baby.  In fact, they're sometimes too easy to get off… Corwin will often pull his own leg warmers off!

They do a good job of protecting his legs, which is important for many reasons.  Firstly, it's cold now and I want his legs warm.  This year's harsh winter means that even with wood heat, our house can get quite cool.

Secondly, they protect his legs from getting rashes when he scoots around.  He'll literally get carpet/rug burn!

I also like how easy it to fold up a pair of leg warmers and throw them into the diaper bag so we have an extra pair, or something to put on his legs if it's really chilly somewhere.
There are several different brands of leg warmers.  BabyLegs are the most well-known brand.  I love their newborn-sized pairs.  The larger pairs are nice, too, and in many cute prints.  My favorite larger size leg warmers, however, are My Little Legs/Judanzy.  They're softer than the BabyLegs and a little stretchier, which is good for chubby baby legs.  They're also slightly less expensive than BabyLegs.  Leg warmers usually cost around $10-14 (USD) a pair.

One big benefit of leg warmers is just how long you can use them.  Honor is almost three and still wearing her leg warmers almost every day.  They tend to bunch down around her ankles unless we often pull them up, but they're still providing her with warmth under her dresses.

Split Pants

Split pants are literally like a pair of pants with a partly open inseam – the crotch area is open.  Some are wide open in style, like cowboy chaps.  Others overlap so they offer more coverage.  You don't see the split unless baby is sitting, squatting, or in another potty position.  I prefer this overlap design, though we have split pants in both designs.

Corwin in a pair of split pantsSplit pants share many advantages with leg warmers.  They protect the baby's legs well.  In fact, they give more coverage for the legs because they go up and around the waist, rather that stopping on the thigh.  This is nice for a scooting baby like Corwin, because he has full coverage on his leg and won't get rashes from scooting around.

They also keep a baby warmer overall because they give a lot more coverage – covering the legs, thighs, and most of the baby's bum.  If you have an overlapping design they cover the baby's bottom almost all the time, but when your baby is in a sitting position you will see a tiny tush peeking out!

Corwin can't pull off split pants, which is a huge benefit!  They stay on him and they look really cute.  Split pants are available in different materials, styles, and prints.  They can even be made from recycled (or “upcycled”) wool sweaters.  Wool ones keep the baby's legs very warm in cold climates and they tend to repel urine so your baby can wear them again even if there's a miss.

All of our split pants come from the ECWear store.  ECWear offers different brands and styles – ours are all ECWear brand.  We have cotton, wool, and flannel and I've been pleased with all of them.  The wool is the most fun to look at, but I really like the soft organic cotton best.  A pair of split pants cost a little more than a pair of legwarmers, so we have both in our layette.

The Verdict

Both styles have benefits and downsides.  The biggest benefit of leg warmers is they tend not to get wet if you have the baby in tiny undies.  If you have undies under or over the split pants and have a miss, the pants are probably going to get wet.

That disadvantage is directly related to the split pants providing more coverage, however, and in the end that extra coverage wins out for me.  I prefer split pants.  I must have more pairs on hand because baby outgrows them, but they're easy to put on and offer a lot of protection for my baby's legs and bottom.  With busy babies this is important to prevent rashes on legs/knees/bum.  I also don't have to keep pulling them up, which can get tiring with a mobile baby who doesn't want to stay still for such things!

With an in-arms baby, leg warmers are fine because I usually pair them under a gown.  That's where the newborn-sized leg warmers are nice.  Once baby is out of that size, however, I like split pants 🙂  They keep baby warm and comfortable.  By the time the weather is warm enough to not need that fuller protection, it's usually warm enough that I don't need anything on my baby's legs at all – and the light organic cotton split pants work well if I just want something to protect from rashes while crawling 🙂

We haven't reached this point with Corwin yet because he's not walking, but split pants also make it easy for your little one to potty independently and still keep up some coverage on his or her bottom!

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About the author 


Kristen is a pregnancy coach, student midwife, and a mama to 8 - all born naturally! I've spent nearly two decades helping mamas have healthy babies, give birth naturally, and enjoy the adventure of motherhood. Does complete support for a sacred birth and beautiful beginning for your baby resonate with you? Contact me today to chat about how powerful guidance and coaching can transform your pregnancy, birth, and mothering journey <3

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