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Potty Training at Night

5 Tips For Potty Training at Night

Frustrated that your child isn't potty trained at night? Dry nights are often the last frontier of potty training. Even after becoming day-trained, it may be months or even years before a child is fully potty trained at night. In addition to urging patience (since a large factor in nighttime potty training is a child's physical readiness), our readers suggest the following helpful tips for toilet training at night.

1. Limit Liquids

One popular potty-training tip from readers is to cut off liquids for at least an hour before a child goes to bed. Some moms, like Cheryl H., advocate limiting liquids even further while potty training: "I think the best thing that worked for my three kids was to cut drinks to a minimum two to three hours before bedtime." Just be sure your child stays hydrated with plenty of water earlier in the day.

2. Wake-Up Calls

Although some moms argue against disrupting a child's nighttime sleep, others encourage waking potty-training children for extra bathroom trips, either before you go to bed or at several intervals during the night. Wisconsin mother-of-two Jane M. shares: "When I first started night-training my son, I would set my alarm for every two to three hours, then stretch it out from there."

3. Accessibility

Another potty-training tip from moms is to ensure your child has easy access to the toilet. "Can he get in and out of his pajamas by himself?" asks Kimberly V. "Can he get in and out of bed and onto the potty by himself, or out of bed and to you to wake you in time? I have actually put a potty chair in my daughter's room to make it more accessible to her in the hopes that this will encourage her to pull down her own pants and go on the potty when she wakes." Natasha W. also suggests night-lights to prevent kids from being "afraid to go to the bathroom by themselves in the middle of the night."

4. Mattress Protector

Be prepared for inevitable slipups with appropriate bedding. As Naomi K. suggests, "Invest in a waterproof mattress protector. They are a great invention. Or you can buy a waterproof mat that lies on top of the sheet for your child to sleep on; they are made of cloth so can be washed if your child does have an accident."

5. Positive Encouragement

Be positive in your approach to potty training: don't dwell on the accidents, and celebrate the successes. "The 'dry morning happy dance' was popular," recalls Janie D. "Encouragement is so good for all of us."

Image Source: Thinkstock
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LineoMahulaKoung LineoMahulaKoung 4 years
My son is 3yrs old he is potty day trained. The only challenge I have is during the night, he usually does his number 2(poop) during the night so its diaper time, is it wrong?
AlfredaWellsMorrissey AlfredaWellsMorrissey 4 years
As for the woman with the child who poops her bed every night, I had exactly that same problem. My daughter struggled with constipation since she was 7 months even though we took her off all solid foods to try and get things soft again. When we started potty training her she refused to poop on the potty, because it hurt. We tried fibre and water and everything. She would poop at night because that was the only time she was relaxed enough to do it. Every night we would have to change her sheets even though she was wearing pull ups because the stench would go through everything. Finally, I started making her poop before bed or she would loose her bedtime story. If she pooped on the potty I would give her three dry apricots. If it hurt, we would giver her strawberries or oranges in the morning because this was the only thing we found that helped. After a while it became routine and her constipation actually cleared up. I don't know if her digestive system matured or if it is because she was pooping regularly but now we don't have to watch what we feed her anymore, she just always poops before bed and it doesn't hurt her anymore. Now occasionally she will say, mommy that hurt a bit can I have some apricots please. At the start, it was very hard because she was crying and in pain and we had to fight every night to make her do it. I really think it was worth it though, not just for my convenience but her for health as well. Now she will even poop during the day if she has to go. It happens rarely but it does happen. Before she would just save it up if she had to go. She is not scared to go anymore. If she goes during the day, then we don't force her to poop before bed. I just tell her to go and try and often times something will come out. Now I don't need to hold the bedtime story over her head though because usually she will just go.
AlfredaWellsMorrissey AlfredaWellsMorrissey 4 years
My 5 year old is still struggling with this. When she was 4 we attempted to get her out of pull ups. We would wake her at 10pm, at 12am and then at 6am she was always wet but would sleep through it. After getting tired of washing the sheets every morning, we put her back in pull ups for a while. Then when she was almost five she insisted that she is a big girl and did not want to wear pull ups anymore. One day we had not finished drying her sheets so we just threw her directly on the mattress protector. This actually helped because when she peed, she was literally in a puddle since there was nothing to absorb it. It actually woke her up and she called to be changed. From then on we paid attention to when she was waking up. I noticed she always wet herself at 4am, so I set an alarm clock in her room for 4am. Then she started wetting before 4am so I set it to 3:30am. Unfortunately the alarm only wakes me up, but at least now she is usually dry in the morning unless I don't hear the alarm for a while. One other thing we learned is, make sure you child walks to the bathroom. My daughter sleeps so deeply I put her on her feet and she will sway and talk to me, literally sleeping standing up. I really have to wake her because I found by taking her in her sleep I was just teaching her pee in her sleep at those times. If I was 5 min late for her pee break, then she would pee her bed since her body was trained to pee at those times. Now sometimes I wake her up and she says she doesn't need to pee. I am trying to trust her when she says that because sometimes she is right. Sometimes it results in her peeing her bed and that is very frustrating for me, but when she does skip her 3:30am pee and succeeds in holding it until morning, that makes up for it. During the period where my 5 year old was wetting three times a night we let her sleep directly on the mattress protector and put a pile of blankets, PJ's and clothes at the end of her bed. She would sometimes wake herself, wipe the pee up with the cloth, throw it in the laundry basket with her wet blanket and wet PJs, then take another PJ, a fresh blanket and go back to sleep. If she called me, at least I didn't need to changer her bed. I just changed her, wiped up the bed and threw a clean blanket on her. It is much faster than struggling with the bottom sheet and trying to make her bed properly three times a night. My three year old, wets the bed occasionally. We wake her at midnight to pee and she is good all night. If you miss that pee stop though, she will be wet. Oddly enough it was my 5 year old who suggested to my three year old that she should start night training and now there is a competition as to who will be dry in the morning. The dry child gets to wear a crown. For a while they would jump back and forth, then we needed to make a second crown because they started both being dry on the same mornings. I was a bit against this tactic because I didn't want to shame my older daughter by pointing out that the little one can do it, but my daughter is so competitive, it actually worked. Kudos to my husband for this idea. You would have to gauge the temperament of the child though.
SheilaKwok SheilaKwok 4 years
This article was actually very helpful. While my youngest is turning 17 in 4days I'm helping to raise my grandson and well to be honest I got the daytime training down pack but couldn't for the life of me figure out what or how to do when it was time for bed. I did remember to limit his drinking. So that helped but all the other tips had totally slipped my mind. Thanks for the much needed reminders.
MissyCarney MissyCarney 4 years
@ Laura Crowe - did the xray show constipation? my son had the same problem but he also would poop his pants. Drs didn't do anything until last year when I said it agian. he was 8...xray showed he was filled...did a sequence of enamas 3 different times that didn't really get much out. finally got an appt at AI Dupont Children's Hospital and had the GI look at him. wasn't gonna do an xray cause he didn't feel anything in his stomach. I asked for one anyway and sure enough he was filled still. they had me do a different cleanout with Miralax and Dulcalax.....alot came out that time. he is still having some issue with night time bed wetting but they are getting better. the pooping in his pants has stopped. thank God!!! I hope everything turns out for her!
AmyG83627 AmyG83627 4 years
My kids all must have small bladders. My oldest was not out of night time pull-ups until age 7 and my now 6 year old son and 4 year old daughter still wear them. I'm not pushing them at all. It caused my oldest so much stress when I started pushing it at age 5. I had to set my alarm and take her every few hours for months. I'm about to tackle it with my son. Greatest tip I ever heard - if you can afford it...buy 2 matress protectors. Layer the matress...protector, sheet, protector, sheet. Then if there is an accident....you don't both have to wrestle with the bed to change it in the middle of the night...just rip off the top two layers, and viola! you have a bed ready to go.
LynnseyNece LynnseyNece 4 years
i would never suggest putting them back in diapers. they understand that it catches most everything. we started bare butt potty training. (wearing nothing at all other than a shirt.) worked great for us our daughter was potty trained by 2 thru the day and night.
AngelaVelella AngelaVelella 4 years
The tips are good, but there are some kids that just don't 'train' well at night. My daughter is 6yrs old and still has to wear pull-ups at night, but has been potty trained since she was 16 months old. We tried everything, but she just cannot usually wake herself up -- and I don't want to wash sheets every night and give her a bath at 3am. The pediatrician said some kids just sleep so deeply that they just don't have the trigger to wake themselves up, and as they get older and their sleep cycle changes they will either be able to hold it longer -- or wake up. So while these ideas may work for most kids -- don't be discouraged if they don't work for your child. They will be fine, they won't wet the bed forever, and they really can't help it.
lorapowell lorapowell 5 years
Thanks for this article. My daughter (2) is now day time potty trained and we are thinking of trying night time training soon.
bukelwamkunyana bukelwamkunyana 5 years
my daughter is 1yr8months i have started potty training but have no idea of the best way to master this as I am home 24hrs to monitor and encourage it because of my work. she sometimes wear panties during the day but will pea on them, any advises
samanthagerada samanthagerada 5 years
very useful
RebeccaSherwoodWilliams RebeccaSherwoodWilliams 5 years
I was slightly unprepared when my daughter started potty training as I had planned to take two weeks off in the summer to help the process until one day just after her second birthday, she refused to wear a nappy and we had to start early. I hadn't had time to do any reading up or take any advice and took the night nappies away at the same time as the day. I put her on the potty at 10pm every night before I went to bed and she stayed dry til morning. This carried on for about 8 months until she refused to get up and go for the 10pm, she has gone through the night since with no accidents and on the nights she can't last, she calls me in to help her onto the potty, she is usually very sleepy but in time I will encourage her to take herself.
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