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Top tips for night time potty training

Is your child a master of the potty but still having accidents in the middle of the night?

If you’re wondering when your child will be dry at night, and struggling with having to change wet bedding in the early hours, do not worry. 

Many parents have the same concerns about when and how to potty train a child at night. 

My youngest daughter continued to need pull-ups for over a year after successful potty training, because she simply wasn’t ready for this next phase just yet. 

Boy in bed for night time potty training

It can be helpful to consider potty training in two stages. 

First of all you help them learn how to use the toilet and ditch nappies during the day. 

Once they are dry during the day then you can give them a few months before moving on to night time potty training.

Some kids may be dry at night right away – my eldest child was – but others may take a little longer. That’s nothing to worry about, holding your bladder for 12 hours is a long time and takes getting used to! 

You may also like: Tips for late potty training

When will my child be dry at night?

Every child is different when it comes to being dry at night but most children will move towards being dry at night between the age of three and five. However some children can take a little longer than this.

Up to 1 in 5 children aged five years and up to 1 in 10 children aged 10 years wet the bed at night.

Bed wetting at night is more common in boys than girls.

I had two totally different experiences with my children. One was potty trained at 2.5 years and immediately dry at night. 

The other child wasn’t potty trained until around 3.5 years and then wasn’t dry at night until well after she turned four. 

So as you can see here there is no hard and fast rule to when your child will be potty trained in the daytime and at night, but there is certainly a rough guide for what age you can help them to learn. 

Should toddlers wear pull-ups at night?

I have mixed feelings about using pull-ups at night

On the one hand I think they help a child who is genuinely not ready to stay dry all night to get a decent night’s sleep (and their parents). 

But on the other hand I think the pull-up can make your child think it’s OK not to bother going to the toilet before bedtime, which is key to them learning how to stay dry at night. 

I had this experience with my own daughter, who would wee in her pull-up before she had even fallen asleep because it was just easier than going to the toilet. 

So I think there is a tipping point that comes where your child is ready to go through the night without a pull-up but they are now reliant on the pull-up to save them the bother of heading to the toilet. 

Only you can know when you have reached this point. Remind your child to use the toilet, even if they have a pull-up on. If you want to try a couple of nights pull-up free then give it a go, but keep reminding them to use the toilet and give lots of positive praise when they do manage it. 

If they have an accident, do not worry and stay positive, telling them “that’s OK, we all have accidents”. 

Tips to potty train your child at night

Always get them on the toilet before bed

This is absolutely crucial. Emptying their bladder before your child actually falls asleep gives them the best possible chance of making it through the night to morning without needing a wee. 

As part of your bedtime routine put your child on the toilet, or remind them to go, after you’ve done the bedtime story, bedtime drink and cleaning their teeth. 

Put a night light near the bathroom 

To help your child be independent with taking themselves to the toilet you need to make their path to the toilet easy. 

Some kids do get worried about walking out into dark hallways, so a plugin nightlight showing them the way can help them be confident at taking themselves to the toilet. 

Have a light in the bathroom that is easy for them to reach and switch on themselves as well. A pull light switch is usually easiest for little kids to use. 

If your child is really frightened about leaving their room to use the toilet then consider putting a potty in their bedroom temporarily to help them learn how to listen to their bladder and use a potty instead of wetting the bed.

Be ready for a nighttime bed change 

Accidents will happen and you need to brace yourself for those! It is so hard having to change a whole bed in the middle of the night when you’ve just woken up. 

Make it easier on yourself when it comes to late night bed changes by having all of the stuff ready to go when you do need to change the bed. 

That includes having a spare waterproof mattress cover, fitted sheet and duvet as well as duvet cover. A machine washable duvet is a must-have for this age group when accidents can happen. 

You can make night time bed changes really speedy by layering up two sets of sheets on the bed. So start with a waterproof mattress cover and then add a fitted sheet, next add another waterproof mattress cover and a fitted sheet. This way if your child has an accident you just whip the top layers off and there’s a fresh, clean one underneath. 

Don’t restrict drinks 

Staying hydrated is important so don’t prevent your child from having a drink before bedtime, or one by their bedside. 

If you want you could offer your child their drink 30 to 45 minutes earlier than usual. For example if they usually have milk before bed then give that to them a little earlier in the evening. 

This then means when they do have a wee the drink has had a little more time to work its way through their system. 

The NHS says that drinks containing caffeine can cause bedwetting to happen more frequently, so consider not giving your child drinks such as cola, tea and coffee.

Wait until they are ready 

Your child may well have mastered potty training during the day but that doesn’t mean they are yet ready for it at night. 

If they are not yet ready then keep using pull-ups at night and do not worry about it too much. 

One day they will just click. You may suddenly realise the pull-up is just dry every morning one week, in which case you can now try taking the pull-up away and see how they get on. 

Stay cool 

Whatever happens keep your cool and remain positive with your child. 

It can be tough when you’re exhausted. If you have tried taking the pull-ups or nappies away at night and your child has had accidents every night for a week, take a step back and bring the pull-ups back. 

Your child will eventually get the hang of it! 

Night time potty training tips

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