Nighttime potty training is completely different than daytime potty training. It can be hard to know how to begin and what to do when things don’t go as anticipated. That’s perfectly normal! It’s a huge parenting hurdle, but once successfully conquered, one of the developmental milestones you’ll remember (and appreciate!) the most.
As a compliment to our post on daytime potty training (read it here), my wife and I wanted to put this guide together to explain how we approached nighttime potty training for our children, and the little tricks we learned along the way. If you are about to start this adventure, or are looking for inspiration, hopefully this helps.
Layer your child’s bed with multiple sets of mattress protectors and bed sheets
When an inevitable accident occurs in the middle of the night, the last thing you want to do is change your child’s bed sheets. Plus, the more time you spend changing sheets, the more likely they are to wake up and the harder it will be for them to fall back asleep.
Completely eliminate this problem by layering your child’s bed with multiple sets of mattress protectors and bed sheets, as shown in the picture below. When an accident happens, simply peel off the wet layer and put your child back in bed!
These are the mattress protectors we used, and they were both completely waterproof and peeled off the bed easily at night (we highly recommend them!):
Have a night light and change of pajamas ready in their bedroom
Just like changing their bed, you want to change your child’s wet clothes quickly. Have a soft night light and change of pajamas ready to go, as shown in the picture below (we kept these on a dresser in their room). This way there’s no need to fish through drawers looking for clothes, or to turn on the obtrusive overhead room light.
Here are the two night lights we’ve used in our children’s bedrooms (we also highly recommend these!):
Wake your child up to use the potty in the middle of the night
Initially, we didn’t do this for our oldest child. I wish we did, but we didn’t. We had read about waking your child up to use the bathroom in the nighttime, but honestly I think we both thought it sounded too crazy and wouldn’t work.
Well, we had regular and frequent accidents at night without waking. It felt like a game of Russian roulette as we put our child to bed, just wondering and waiting to see if this would be the lucky night we’d be accident-free. There had to be a better way!
After a week or two of consistent nighttime accidents, we finally decided to wake our child up in the middle of the night to use the potty. It does work! Yes, it also means that you have to wake up too…so your sleep will get interrupted. But the vast majority of the time our children sat on the potty, peed, and went back to bed without even knowing what was going on.
Be prepared and have a soft night light ready in the bathroom. It might take a few days for them to get used to the nighttime wake-up routine. At first our children often wanted to get off the potty right away and go back to bed, and we had to gently encourage them to go potty before going back to bed. But this lasted only a few days.
There was some trial and error as far as when to go potty in the middle of the night. Our children usually go to bed around 8-9 pm. We found the ideal time for the nighttime potty trip to be around 1-2 am. Any earlier, and they genuinely wouldn’t have to pee. Any later was too late and an accident had already occurred.
Lastly, you’ll need some perseverance. Depending on which one of our children we’re talking about, it took 1-3 months of nighttime wake ups before they could last the entire night completely dry.
Here’s a link to the color-changing night light we have in our bathroom that our children love (our oldest is in charge of picking the color). They have a USB port for charging devices and a flashlight mode for power outages, so they’re extra useful too:
Limit liquids at dinner/before bed and go potty right before bed
Until your child is fully nighttime potty trained, that glass of apple juice at dinner or glass of warm milk before bed certainly isn’t going to help make things easier. You don’t have to eliminate liquids altogether, but do limit them. And always establish a last potty trip right before bedtime as a routine.
Start at the same time as daytime potty training
We tackled nighttime potty training hand-in-hand with daytime potty training. Yes, we’ve read all the guides and tutorials online and yes, we know that they all advise to wait until your child is potty trained during the day.
For us, our decision was more about helping our children make the mental connection that diapers were no more than it was about limiting how much laundry we’d have to do. We had bought our children fun undies, they had helped move their diapers and diaper wipes to storage, and even held my tool bag while I unscrewed their diaper changing station from their dresser. Why do all this, only to bring back diapers at night? Why send conflicting signals and foster confusion in their minds?
And as we found out, nighttime potty training can be done at the same time as daytime potty training!
Stay the course, and don’t sweat the small stuff!
Don’t stop or wait to tackle nighttime potty training. Accidents will happen – every parent out there can attest to that. It doesn’t mean your child is regressing. Keep your cool, change their bed sheets and clothes, and try again the next day. And keep these tips and tricks in mind – they worked for us and we hope they work for you, too!
Did you find these tips helpful and useful? How have you tackled nighttime potty training? Let me know in the comments below!
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