All types of potty training are stressful on the parents and the child, but nighttime potty training seems to be even more so, especially when it doesn’t go as well as you had hoped.
I’ve compiled 6 tips that helped our nighttime potty training process and will help yours too!
It took us quite a few tries before we finally found success with nighttime potty training. It’s totally different than daytime and there’s many more cues to pay attention to from your child.
While the most important is wait until your child is ready, there are a few other tips to help you make nighttime potty training a success [on the first go around]!
Don’t start nighttime potty training before your child is developmentally ready.
Saddle Style Soaker Mattress PadWe tried a couple of times before to get Sophia potty trained at night, with little success. She was just not developmentally ready, which was so hard for me to believe at first.
She’s intellectually smart and understands everything about potty training and has been daytime potty trained for so long… so why is she not nighttime potty trained? She just was not ready… physically. I had to tell myself that over and over so I wouldn’t stress out about nighttime potty training and more importantly so I wouldn’t stress her out.
So, how do you know if your child is ready to be nighttime potty trained?
He/She should be waking up dry at least 5-6 mornings out of the week. Sophia would occasionally wake up dry, but not consistently enough.
To have success, it is imperative that your child’s bladder can handle holding the liquid all night. It’s not something they can intellectually control, so it’s important to separate those two things.
Limit liquids at night
We found the most success when we limited Sophia’s liquids for 2-3 hours before she laid down. We usually start her bedtime routine at 8pm, which includes her last potty trip before going to sleep. We limited liquids to a small drink of water after 6:30 pm.
Limiting liquids is not depriving your child of a drink, it’s simply not letting them drink a ton right before bed.
The same can be said for day time potty training too. I know that juice and water make her use the bathroom more frequently, so if I know we’re going to be in public, where potty training is harder, I limit the amount of liquids she has throughout the day. Not take them away – just limit.
Potty training chart with rewards
Although some might disagree, I like to use rewards with any type of potty training. We used a sticker chart in the early days of daytime potty training that worked tremendously, so we brought it back for nighttime.
Expert Tip: This is where it REALLY matters if your child is developmentally ready for nighttime potty training. If they are getting upset at themselves because they continue to wake up with wet diapers, then it’s time to re-evaluate. A potty training chart should be a positive reward, not a negative when it comes to potty training of any kind.
Every morning that she woke up dry, she’d put a sticker on the chart, after 3 she gets to pick from her treasure chest, which contains super small snacks and toys. It was important that waking up wet one morning didn’t take anything away from her reward chart and the 3 stickers didn’t have to be consecutive days.
Nighttime potty trips
This is a controversial one and I see both sides. Waking your child can tremendously increase the success of nighttime potty training, but at a price. It interrupts both the parents and the child’s sleep cycles and can inadvertently cause more harm than good.
We were doing this with Sophia and it proved to be the only way that I could seem to get her to wake up dry, but it really did do more harm. She would be moody during the days [even more than a normal day with a two year old] and really, so would I.
I found that it really wasn’t worth it to wake use both up until she was really developmentally ready.
Layer your child’s bed sheets
This is probably the one tip that totally saved my sanity during nighttime potty training because there will be accidents and the last thing you want to be doing at midnight is changing sheets.
So here’s how I layer the sheets:
- Mattress protector directly on the mattress
- Fitted sheet
- DIY Mattress Protector Pad [here’s a tutorial with FREE pattern to make your own]
- Fitted sheet
- DIY Mattress Protector Pad
I usually just layered twice and it was enough, especially with the top mattress protector pad. This is enough layers for 2 accidents. If she had an accident in the middle of the night, I would just take away the top pad. If she soaked through or had a 2nd accident, I would just pull up the top fitted sheet and pad underneath.
Layering bed sheets is great, but when I began washing sheets twice a day, I started getting a little stressed out. It seemed like, although I wasn’t meaning to, I was putting extra pressure on Sophia and actually making her have more accidents in the process.
I didn’t realize I was doing this until after we relaxed.
Once we started relaxing [and realizing she wasn’t developmentally ready those first couple of attempts at nighttime potty training], we put her back in her cloth trainers and relaxed.
We made sure there was no pressure on her waking up dry, but if she did, we would CELEBRATE!
Potty training is hard on both the child and the parents, especially nighttime potty training. The thing that I’ve taken away from this process [twice now] is that just because Sophia totally understands and can successfully potty during the day doesn’t mean the same goes for nighttime.
Read your child’s cues and go at YOUR pace – there’s no right or wrong strategy or time when you do what’s best for you and your child.