Daytime potty training on its own is already a huge milestone and a major accomplishment. But nighttime potty training is a whole new different game and can intimidate even the most confident moms and dads.
You see, daytime potty training is easier, at least by comparison, as your child is awake most of the time and can readily identify their potty cues. On the other hand, many young children are not physically capable of holding their pee for more than 10 hours. Also, because they are fast asleep, they may not be aware of their body signals.
But don’t think potty training at night is a nightmare. It may be more challenging than its daytime counterpart, but it’s something that is totally achievable, especially with the right tips.
Now, before you begin to enter the wonderful world of diaper-free bedtime, check to see if you are fulfilling the following requisites:
- An established and consistent daytime and bedtime routine
- No significant changes to your daily schedule
- Complete daytime dryness
- Dry pull-up diapers when they wake up in the morning
If all of these requirements are present and you think they are ready to move on to the next challenge, then here are 5 tips to help you prepare for potty training at night.
1. Keep the liquids before bedtime to a minimum.
The first thing you need to remember is to limit your child’s liquid intake — whether it’s water, milk or juice — an hour before bedtime. In particular, limit sugary beverages so if your child does ask for something to drink, just give them a little amount of water.
2. Let your child use the bathroom before going to bed.
Another thing that you should do in order to minimize bedtime accidents is to make going to the bathroom part of your child’s bedtime routine. Make them use the potty or bathroom around 30 minutes before bedtime and then again right before they climb into bed.
3. Be ready to combat bedwetting.
Because nighttime potty training is a challenge, expect a few accidents as your child transitions into this new developmental milestone. Never chastise your child for wetting the bed as this is beyond their control! Instead, make the necessary preparations like layering your child’s sheets and getting a waterproof mattress protector (or two) as well as spare blankets.
Some parents even recommend putting two layers of sheets and waterproof protector. Layer on waterproof protector then a sheet and then another waterproof protector with another sheet on top of it. This way, when an accident happens, you can just strip off the first layer of sheet and waterproof protector. Brilliant!
4. Use positive reinforcement.
Similar to our daytime potty training tips, it is also very helpful to use a positive reward system to help your child with nighttime potty training. Celebrate the small wins like their very first dry morning! While you can offer candy as a reward, it is much better to avoid giving sweet treats which can be damaging to their growing teeth. Instead, you can reward your child with other prizes like stamps, stickers, even new underwear!
5. Be patient.
Finally, arm yourself with tons of patience when you step into the territory of nighttime potty training! If you had to practice patience when you were daytime potty training your child, be doubly patient now that you are starting to potty train at night.
Unlike daytime potty training, which can be achieved by practice and repetition, nighttime potty training is something that your child has little control over. This is a physiological milestone, not an age milestone, and it is often necessary to wait until your child has a bladder big enough to hold in their pee for 10-12 hours.
If your child still wets the bed all the time or just can’t seem to wake up to pee, then it is highly possible that they are not yet developmentally ready for the task. Don’t put pressure on yourself and on your baby and continue letting them wear pull-up diapers. Let your child take the lead and one day, even if it takes months or years, it will just happen!