The purpose of rubber pants is to protect a child's clothing and the furnishings in the environment from leaks from a cloth diaper. Rubber pants have snug elastic at the waist and legs to better contain leaks. A caregiver pulls the pants over the diaper area to provide protection. When used properly, the waterproof material keeps liquid and solid waste inside between changes.
Modern rubber pants do not usually contain rubber or latex and are instead constructed of polyvinyl chloride or polyurethane. Alternate names include plastic pants, waterproof pants or pull-on diaper covers. These newer materials provide more breathability than rubber and are less vulnerable to damage from oils in diaper creams or just due regular use. Alternatives to rubber pants include many varieties of contoured, waterproof diaper covers that fasten with snaps or hook-and-loop closures over diapers, thick wool covers that provide extra absorbency while still being breathable and disposable diapers.
Rubber pants also provide extra protection over training pants for toddlers who are learning how to use the bathroom. Some parents choose rubber pants for outings or overnights only relying on training pants alone during the day or when the child is at home. Adults with incontinence sometimes use rubber pants for protection.