Daytime toileting is usually mastered before nighttime toileting and before children’s bladders are fully developed. (1, 2) Their bodies are also still too immature to reliably wake them up in the middle of the night to go to the potty. (4)
It is important to remember that “night-time wetting during the toilet training process is not the same as bedwetting.” (2) Children are not classified as bedwetting until they are 5 years old. (2)
Pediatrician, Lynette Bauza, says that it can take up to two years before a child is completely trained at night. (2)
Night-time Potty Training Tip #1 – Wait until they’re ready
Let your child continue to wear night-time diapers or training pants until they are ready. “[I]f you wait until he’s really ready to start, the process shouldn’t be too painful for either of you.” (4)
Your child may be more ready when:
• He/she wakes up dry most mornings or urinates just before he/she wakes up (the diaper is soaked and warm)
• He/she goes to the toilet during the night on his/her own or asks for help
• He/she asks to wear big boy/girl underwear to bed
• He/she can get in and out of bed on his/her own (no bed rail)
• He/she’s learned to completely empty his/her bladder and urinate on demand (about age 4).
Night-time Potty Training Tip #2 – Prepare and empower your child for staying dry
There are several ways you can help your child feel ready for this next step of big-kid-dom:
• Make it easy for your child to get out of bed (no bed rails) and easily remove their pajamas
• Talk it up – Talk to your child about the possibility of wearing “big boy/girl pants” to bed, about keeping the bed dry, about going to the potty by themselves
• Don’t start night-time training all of a sudden
• Decide on a night-time potty procedure with your child and then practice it before sleep time
• Cover the bed with a waterproof mat (either disposable or reusable)
• Use night lights to help your child navigate to and from the bathroom at night
Night-time Potty Training Tip #3 – Positive dry bed strategies
The main strategy is to keep the whole night-time potty training atmosphere positive and to help your child establish good habits that will help him/her succeed such as:
• Have your child use the toilet before getting into bed
• Remind your child about getting up to use the potty
• If your child gets up during the night, ask if they need to use the potty or take them to the potty anyway. (In my experience it’s better to go with the mommy instinct and take him without asking. This avoids any “power of suggestion” incidents — the child being dry before you ask, and wet after.)
• Praise dryness in the morning, don’t scold for wet sheets, and keep clean up positive and calm
• Put a potty in the child’s room if the bathroom is too far away
• Make sure your child drinks well during the day so she/he’s not thirsty at bedtime
1. Toilet training – staying dry at night. Better Health Channel. Web. June 17, 2013.
2. Taking Potty Training from Day to Night. Marquette Poremba, Sue. Huggies.com.au. Web. June 17, 2013.
3. Night time potty training. KidsSpot. Web. June 17, 2013.
4. ABC of potty training. BabyCenter.ca. Web. June 17, 2013.
Reviewed June 17, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith