Inside: Everything a parent needs to know about period pants for kids!
Let’s talk about period pants for girls (or kids who will menstruate)! What they are, how they work, why you’d want to use them, when to use them, who can use them and where to buy them from!
I am a huge fan of period-proof underwear, as it can help to boost the confidence of kids in managing their periods. As well as alleviate their fear whilst waiting for their first (or next) period to start.
What are period pants?
Considering periods have been happening since the beginning of time, you wouldn’t think that it’s possible to create a new product for managing periods.
But they have!
Thanks to new technology with how fabrics can be made, they have now created reusable underwear that has a pad built into them. So that the pants absorb blood without it leaking through.
Some people even call them period diapers or nappies. It’s not a term that I like but I guess that the disposable ones can look like one. And they do work in the same way as a diaper or nappy ie they absorb liquid.
So basically, period pants are just a pair of undies with an absorbent crutch. Which means you don’t have to add a pad (or sanitary napkin) or any other menstruation product.
They are even marketing them now for incontinence, and for men as well as women.
How do period panties work?
So how do period panties work?
They pretty much work in the same way as diapers or nappies work. If you ever used cloth nappies, then you will notice many similarities in regards to the layers.
Blood comes out of your vagina, dripping onto the crutch of the period pants.
The first layer is moisture-wicking. Which means that it pulls the liquid through and into the layer below. This means that you don’t have a wet sensation when wearing the pants.
The second layer is absorbent. Which means that it absorbs the liquid and holds it.
The third layer is a barrier. This means that it stops the liquid from leaking through to the outside of the panties and staining your clothes.
The fourth layer is the outer layer. It is usually made of a softer fabric so that it feels nice against the skin. It is usually made of the same fabric as the actual underpants (which means a seam-free look).
Some pants will only come with 3 layers, with the third and fourth layers merged into one layer. Or the first and second layers are merged. They still work in the exact same way.
Why would you use period pants?
So why would you use period pants?
People use them for lots of different reasons.
Lots of people use them because they are reusable. Which means they aren’t going into landfills and are better for the environment. As you can wash them and reuse them.
I know parents that use them when their child has a disability. They are more convenient and you don’t need to attach a pad to them (important if fine motor skills are a problem).
They are convenient and easy to use. All you need to do is grab a pair and pop them on.
They are discrete. Some people worry about the outline of a pad being visible through their clothing. This isn’t a problem with period pants (unless you wear a pad with them). And you don’t get bulging when they are full, either!
They give you peace of mind. You can wear them with a pad, which means that you don’t have to worry about the pad overfilling and leaking through onto your clothing (as the period pants will absorb any liquid that gets past your pad). Or if you’re uncertain about your start date, you can wear them so that you’re prepared (just in case it starts).
TIP. Suggest to your child that they keep a pair in their period kit for school. Making up your own DIY period kit is a great way to start talking about periods together.
A lot of young people can become quite anxious and worry (a lot!) about when their period will start. Wearing period pants can give them the reassurance they need to get through their school day (without visible blood stains).
Are they economical? It’s hard to say. The average Australian spends between $60 to $120 a year on disposable products. A pair of period pants will last between one to two years, and you’d need 6 to 8 pairs for every period (as they can take up to 2 days to dry). I’ll let you do the sums!
How reliable is period proof underwear?
So how reliable is period proof underwear?
It depends on the brand you buy. Some brands are more reliable than others.
It depends on their level of absorbency. And whether you buy the most absorbent ones (or not). As well as how far the absorbent part extends into the front and back of the pants.
It depends on how heavy your blood flow is. Some people bleed slowly over 3-5 days whereas others bleed heavily over 1-2 days. Everyone is different. Reviews say that they can be unreliable if you’re a heavy bleeder.
It depends on how you wash them. You can’t use fabric softeners with them because they can make the fabric less absorbent (almost water repellent). Which means they won’t absorb liquid, and you’ll get leaking.
It depends on how often you change them. I have tested quite a few different brands, and have left them on until they leaked (luckily I work from home!). Some leak around the leg elastic, whereas others will leak up the back or front.
So for some people, they are very reliable. Whereas for others, not so reliable.
TIP. Start off with just 1 or 2 pairs from a couple of different brands. This way you can work out which ones are the most reliable (and comfortable) for you.
How do you use period underwear?
There are three main ways to use period underwear. By themselves, with another period product or when you’re waiting for your period to start.
TIP. When buying period underwear, read the description carefully to check if the manufacturer recommends wearing them with (or without) another period product. Not all period underwear is designed to be worn alone. So you need to check!
You can use period underwear alone, without using any other period product. To do this, you would want to be very confident with understanding the pattern of your period (keeping in mind that period patterns will change throughout your life). And to know when your blood flow is heavier so that you can gauge how often you need to change them.
A lot of people will just wear period pants alone on their lighter days, and use other period products on their heavier days (with the period pants there as an extra back up).
TIP. Test them out at home first, to see how much blood they hold for you before leaking through.
You can use period pants with another period product (like pads, tampons or a menstrual cup). This is how I recommend tweens and teens use them. At least until their period settles into a predictable pattern and they have got more comfortable with managing it.
I have heard too many horror stories of young people having leaks when wearing period pants without a period product. So until they are savvy, get them to use a pad with their period pants. My daughter will often wear them alone at the end of her period, where the blood flow is very light but hangs around for a couple of days.
You can use period underwear whilst you’re waiting for your period to start. A lot of people will wear them ‘just in case’, for a few days when they think their period is about to start.
If you’re unsure about when a first period might happen, you can complete this First Period Quiz. It’ll give you a ‘rough idea’ of whether their first period will be sooner rather than later.
This is where period underwear becomes important for kids. A lot of young people worry that their first period will start on a school day, that the blood will stain their clothing and everyone will see it. Or because they have yet to work out what their cycle (or pattern of bleeding) is, they can’t predict when their next period is due. Or they have to learn how to read the other signals that their body may give them eg back aching, cramps, headaches, diarrhoea, etc.
The fear of blood-stained clothing is very real to young people. So a great way to help alleviate some of their fear and stress, is to get them some period pants on those days where they are unsure. Heck, they can even wear them every day if it gives them the confidence to get through their day!
How do you wash them?
So how do you wash period pants?
They are usually a cold water wash, with no fabric softener (as it will stop them from being absorbent and they can become water repellent) and to air dry (ie not into the clothes dryer). Most brands recommend not using a stain remover.
I have soaked mine overnight in stain remover a couple of times and they are still working well. I only do this if I notice that they have a pong (on sniffing) when I am pegging them out to dry on the clothesline.
And if you rinse the blood off first, you can wash them with your other clothes. It’s up to you!
There’s a couple of different ways to rinse the blood off.
Some people will rinse them off in the shower. You will get that metallic blood smell in the air if the shower water is hot. And it can look like a murder scene as diluted blood can squirt onto the walls when you squeeze the water out. So make sure you talk to your child about making sure the shower isn’t left bloodstained for the next person.
Some will soak them in a bucket of water. Just don’t leave them soaking for too long or they will get smelly. You’ll need to find a location for the bucket that is private (many kids feel shy about others knowing when they have their period) and safe from pets and smaller children.
And some people just save throw them straight into a load of dirty clothes (with no rinsing) and run an extra rinse cycle.
So you will need to chat with your child about how you want them to manage their period pants. And come up with a routine that works for your family!
How are tween or teen period pants different?
So how are the tween or teen period underwear different?
Basically, they come in smaller sizes, are prettier (so that kids are more likely to want to wear them) and come in styles that kids are comfy wearing eg boyleg (or period shorts) and briefs.
Which are the best period panties to buy?
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There are a lot of different brands to buy, so knowing which is the best period panties, is difficult to determine. They all have mixed reviews and I have yet to find a brand that everyone loves.
Also, people tend to complain more when they dislike a brand, so you will always see more negative reviews than positive reviews.
So make sure you have a look online to find some period pants reviews, before choosing a brand.
TIP. Start off with just 1 or 2 pairs from a couple of different brands. This way you can work out which brand you like and what style is comfortable.
And just like buying any underwear, we all have our own personal taste in regards to what style we like to wear. So you have to find a pair that are comfortable and yet absorbent.
I am a huge fan of the Modibodi period pants. But I know that some people don’t like them at all.
They have a brand that are smaller sized for young people – Modibodi Red. Plus they make them colourful so that kids are happier to wear them.
You can watch my Modibodi review below.
You can find a lot of different period underwear on Amazon. The joy of buying on Amazon is that you’ll see lots of reviews. Both positive and negative reviews.
Another place to buy period pants is on Etsy, especially if you’re after something that is handmade (rather than in a factory in China).
What about period swimwear?
You can now also buy period swimwear. Swimwear with a built-in pad that is supposed to be stain and leak proof.
Now, I have yet to test period swimwear myself. And so far, my daughter refuses to test them for me too! Reviews and parent feedback about them, are mixed. Very mixed!
Plus I am still trying to understand how they work myself, as I can’t get my head around how they would work when you’re in the water and when getting out, and sitting around after. We have had many discussions about this in my free parent facebook group.
So, I can’t say what I think of them!
But if you’ve used period swimwear, please do share your experiences of them in the comments.
My last words about period pants…
In case you hadn’t guessed by now, I am a huge fan of period pants.
I think that every young person should have them. As they give them the extra backup they need when having their period or waiting for their period to start. The reassurance they give worried kids is priceless.
But, I don’t think they should be using them alone (without any other products) until they are confident with managing their periods and aware of their bleeding pattern.
Resources to help with talking about puberty
My mission is to create resources that will help you to naturally talk to your kids about sex, all while respecting your personal values.
Which means that inside this website, you’ll find lots of resources to help you with talking to your child about puberty.
My Puberty 101 page includes all of the information on puberty. You’ll find lots of different blog posts to help with talking to your child about growing up.
You’ll find videos about puberty in my Sex Education Videos resource page that you can watch with your child or to learn more about puberty yourself.
You’ll also find an extensive range of children’s books on puberty, for kids of all ages.
If you get stuck and feel that you need some extra support with talking to your child about puberty, then my book, The Parents’ Guide to Puberty, may be helpful. It’s a straightforward common sense guide that will help you to start having honest conversations that will guide your child through puberty, and strengthen your relationship without feeling embarrassed, awkward or nervous.
Or maybe you’re looking for a video course to sit down and watch together with your child. My friend Rowena from Amazing Me has created a fantastic 2 part interactive course for parents/carers to attend together with their 9 to 12 year old. It’s fun, educational and age-appropriate! You can learn more about her puberty course here.
If you have a child who is expecting their first period, then you may want to consider period pants. Period pants are fantastic for kids who are worried that they won’t know that their period has started until it stains through their clothing for the world to see. My favourite brand for tweens and teens is ModiBodi, as they are good quality and quite absorbent.
If you need some help with explaining sexual intercourse to your child, then How to Talk to Kids About Sex will help you explain sex to your child in a way they will understand. It breaks sex down into simple steps that take the stress out of explaining!
If you’re unsure about how to answer your child’s questions about sex, then I have the perfect book for you! The Sex Education Answer Book will give you age-specific answers to the most common questions kid’s ask parents about sex. Which means you don’t need to worry about finding a child-friendly explanation that your child understands.
And if you get stuck, feel free to get in touch! You can contact me here.