We’ve already mentioned in our previous posts on potty training that night time potty training is a whole different ball game from day time training, and that it’s best advised to attempt the latter first. Many parents might think that while they’re already potty training their child during the day, they might as well extend it to the night, but this often ends up backfiring and derailing any progress made till now!
Why is night time Kids potty training different?
When kids are being trained to use the potty during the day, they are fully awake and aware, making it easier for them to sense their body’s signals and rush to the potty. But when it comes to night time potty training a child, just realizing that he has a full bladder isn’t enough; he also needs to arouse himself from sleep and get to the toilet in time to empty it. This is quite a challenge physiologically for a young child, which is why experts recommend delaying night time training till the child is absolutely ready.
While most toddlers are ready to start potty training during the day, the readiness for night time potty training only comes much later, during the preschool stage. Studies show that among kids under three years of age, 66% are ready for night time training while that number goes up to 75% among kids under four years. So it’s perfectly okay if your child is trained during the day and still uses diapers when he goes to sleep at night.
But as with everything else, your child is the best indicator for whether she’s ready for night time potty training nor not. Many children vocally announce that they don’t want to wear diapers to bed anymore and this is a positive sign to begin night time training. Another signal that your child is ready is when he wakes up with dry diapers more frequently, which means that he now has the capacity to hold it in till he gets to the potty.
While these are general indicators, do remember that every child is different, and comparing your child to the neighbor’s is not helpful at all! Children who are deep sleepers and have weak bladders may take longer to night train. If you think your child is ready, go ahead with our tips below; if it turns out that he’s not, don’t worry – you can try again in a while.
10 Tips for Night Time Kids Potty Training
1. Be mentally prepared
It’s important for both you and your little one to be mentally prepared for the next stage of potty training. Mom needs lots of patience and junior needs lots of encouragement! Tell him that it’s perfectly normal to feel like peeing during the night and that everyone does it. If he’s feeling proud of having accomplished day time training in a short time, he may get discouraged when he finds that night time training is taking longer than expected. Prepare him in advance so he doesn’t feel disappointed with himself.
2. Have extras on hand
Get ready for stocking up on extras – you’ll need double or triple what you needed for day time potty training! Have extra pajamas, underwear, bed sheets and towels in an easily reachable place so you’re not pulling out drawers in the middle of the night. Invest in a good mattress protector or even a simple plastic sheet to ensure your child’s mattress is safe. If your little one has the habit of crawling in with you in the middle of the night, you’ll have to protect your mattress as well.
3. Make the potty accessible
Make it easy for your child to reach the potty in the dead of night. If the bathroom’s a little way off, you might want to keep his potty nearby. Have a night light that wont’ disturb his sleep but is bright enough for him to see in the dark. Keep toys, chairs etc. out of the way so there’s no bumping into things when heading towards the potty.
4. Limit liquids before bed
As soon as you decide to start night time potty training, start monitoring your child’s fluid intake after the evening. Stop offering liquids a few hours before bed time, and make sure he is well-hydrated during the day so that he doesn’t get too thirsty at night. Of course, you shouldn’t refuse a child who’s really thirsty, but keep it to a sip or two of water. If he’s used to a cup of milk at night, move it to an earlier time. If he’s still nursing to sleep, now’s the time to wean him off it.
5. Have bathroom breaks before bed
It’s important to get kids to empty their bladder as soon as they start their bedtime routine, and then again right before bed. If they’re too excited to go, just read another story and try again. The more chances they get to pee before bed, the more likely they’ll be dry till morning. This doesn’t really train them to use the potty at night, but it gets them used to waking up dry, and soon they’ll be motivated to work towards it themselves.
6. Switch to regular underwear
Once you’re limiting liquids and your child is peeing before bed, you can take the plunge and switch diapers for regular underwear. The stakes are higher now, so remember to keep all the essentials we mentioned within easy access! Now your child will realize that peeing in bed makes it unpleasant to sleep in wet sheets, and he’ll be more motivated to keep everything dry.
7. Set alarms for pee breaks
It’s not easy for a young child in underwear to magically start waking up to pee in the middle of the night, so you’ll have to start the habit for them. Set the alarm for a few hours after midnight, and wake your child gently.
Take her to the potty and let her know that she’s peeing. Finish up the toilet routine and put her back to bed. One pee break a night helps most kids stay dry, but if it’s raining or your child still wets the bed, you might want to try two pee breaks.
This does affect your sleep, but soon, your child will begin to wake automatically during his pee breaks, and you can soon let go of the alarm. Setting alarms for pee breaks helps establish the habit and gradually trains your child’s body to recognize the need to urinate during the night. With consistency and patience, your child will eventually develop the ability to wake up on their own and use the bathroom, leading to dry nights and less reliance on the alarms.
8. Try lifting
‘Lifting’ kids to the potty is another approach parents try, especially when dealing with younger kids or deeper sleepers. The parent wakes up, lifts the sleeping child and coaxes her to pee in the potty, which she usually does without waking up fully. Doing this regularly for a while may train children’s bodies to pee at the set time, and they can soon be woken up to be more involved in the process.
9. Make exceptions
If you’ve started night time training wearing underwear to bed and are progressing but your child falls sick, don’t stress about it. Insisting on training during this time will only frustrate both of you, so let your child wear diapers for a while. You might have to go back a few steps, but your child will be in a better mood to cooperate and proceed with training. The same applies to any traumatic situation, like if Grandma is suddenly hospitalized or something similar. Understand the circumstances and plan your moves accordingly. Remember that your child’s readiness and cooperation is the first thing you need for successful night time training.
10. Don’t shame
As you can imagine, night time potty training can take a toll on parents, affecting your sleep and making you change urine-soaked sheets at 2:00 AM! However, it’s important to remember that this is not an easy journey for a young child, and that she most certainly isn’t doing this on purpose. So hang in there, and don’t take your frustration out on your child by shaming her – you’re only pulling her back. Stay cheerful and do whatever you need to in a matter-of-fact manner. Your attitude makes a world of difference to your child!
Even after your child can be considered successfully potty trained at night, you should still expect accidents for a while, so don’t take off those mattress protectors yet! Boys often take longer than girls to potty train, and even siblings may differ in when they’re fully trained, with younger siblings overtaking older ones in some instances.
As with starting potty training, make sure your child isn’t going through any transitional phase like welcoming a new sibling, moving houses or parents taking up new jobs.Some experts seem to think that certain medical conditions can interfere with night time potty training, like sleep apnea, allergies or constipation, so if you suspect anything, be sure to speak to your child’s doctor.
Keep going and take it easy, and you’ll find that your child achieves night time potty training success early than you think!