So, you have nailed daytime potty training and your nappy bill is considerably lower. Is it time to start thinking about nighttime potty training?
Potty training is not always easy and as all children are different, some may master this skill early while others are still in nappies into their second or third year. Many parents know that the best way to approach it is with a relaxed attitude, with plenty of patience and at a time when our children are displaying signs that they are ready. We all develop and grow at different rates so you should never judge your progress against your friends’ kids. Listening to your child and waiting until they are receptive to the idea is more likely to be successful than forcing the issue.
Nighttime potty training
Night training doesn't usually happen at the same time as daytime potty training, so you shouldn’t expect to ditch the nappies entirely at this stage. A baby doesn’t recognise the need to pee or poo, so will just go whenever they have to. Gradually, as the brain develops, it starts to recognise the signs from the bladder and the bowels. In small children, this often means they must go - right now! Your child also needs to be able to verbalise this need, then further effort is needed to pull down underwear and use the potty. No doubt there are a few 'accidents' during the day. Imagine your toddler having to negotiate all of that during the night. It's little wonder that night training can wait a little later!
When can my child start nighttime potty training?
Doctors advise that the average age for night time potty training is around three and a half to four years old, though some children will still need pull-ups or bed protection up to the age of seven. Remember that all children are different and whatever is normal for them is fine. Patience is needed and your child must never be made to feel they have failed if they wet the bed.
There are signs that you can look for that could indicate your child is ready to lose the nappies at bedtime:
- A dry nappy in the morning, several days in a row
- Your child is reliably dry during the day
- Your child has fewer than two or three 'accidents' per month during the night
Success with nighttime potty training
Approach nighttime training in a similar manner to daytime training. Explain to your child that they no longer need to wear nappies at night and explain that they can use the toilet instead.
- Take your child to the toilet immediately before they turn in for the night. And then take them as soon as they wake up in the morning.
- Use either disposable or re-usable waterproof sheets under your child's normal bedding in case of accidents
- Don't limit drinks including milk but be mindful of how much your child consumes just before bedtime
- Make sure your child can easily get up from bed and access the bathroom or potty independently. They may need a step stool and potty seat on the loo, or a potty that’s always to hand in the bathroom. They may also need to come into your room to ask for help, so make sure that they know this is ok.
- Keep a change of bedding and night clothes handy so that if your child does have an accident, you can change them as quickly and efficiently as possible. Never make a big deal out of this - stay calm and reassuring and remember that it isn't your child's fault. Never issue punishments for a wet bed, as this can upset your child needlessly, cause issues with confidence and actually prolong potty training.
Tips for successful potty training
Whichever way you approach nighttime potty training, remember that it is a developmental curve for each child and that accidents are inevitable.
Don't attempt to start potty training or nighttime training when there is something big going on in your family life. Christmas, birthdays, house moves, starting nursery or a new baby can be very disruptive on the whole family, and chances are that getting up to change bedding in the middle of the night is not top of your agenda either. Take your time and remember that this is not a race - your child will get there in their own time and that's fine!
If you have any concerns, speak to your GP or health visitor for advice.
Some helpful additional reading: