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6 Tips to Make Nighttime Potty Training a Success

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!

nighttime potty training

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 PadSaddle 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.

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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.

DIY Mattress Pad Cover for nighttime potty training

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!

celebrate potty training successes with a dance party

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.

What Nighttime Potty Training Tips have helped you the most?


Wednesday 29th of January 2014

My boyfriend's daughter is 4 going on 5 and still wakes up every single morning with a full wet pull-up. It's not just wet, it's full of pee. We always limit her drinks before bed (nothing to drink after dinner) and she always uses the bathroom before she lays down. Do you have any other tips we could try to maybe have an at least 1 day during the week she wakes up dry? We stopped doing this, but we used to work with her on weekends by putting her in panties and waking up with her 2 or 3 times a night. Sometimes we would have one night she stayed dry but still a lot of wet nights. We have really been relaxed about all of it and never make her feel bad about it or punish her for it either. The only thing I haven't tired yet is the Potty Chart (which I will start for the month of Feb.). Any extra tips or advice would help. Thanks!!!!

Lindsey Galvez

Wednesday 29th of January 2014

Laura - I think, honestly, being relaxed about it is the best thing for her. My oldest daughter will go a week dry every morning, then a week soaked every morning. I just keep thinking that when her body can handle it, it just will. You know?

Try the chart, but just keep your reactions positive no matter the outcome, which it sounds like you are!


Tuesday 24th of December 2013

A week before my daughter's 3rd birthday she started begging me not to put a dudu-nappy on her. The third night of finally convincing her that she still needs the nappy it was about 10mins after I put her to bed when she was by her bedroom door, flung the nappy down the hall and said "i told you i don't need a nappy" I don't condone being spoken to like that but I just let it slide this time and to my surprise she was completely dry the next morning. For almost 2 weeks she was dry, occasionally waking at about 2:30am calling me to go make a wee. It is now the third week and her bed is every morning :-( she doesn't wake anymore to go to the toilet, and doesn't stay dry. I have limited liquids, not taking it away completely cause it is simply too hot here. So for 3 nights now I have woken her to go to the toilet before I go to bed, and then again at 2:30, and then she is dry. She wakes up completely, goes back to sleep easily, and is still very happy in the mornings. I find the 5mins at 2:30am is less stressful for me than the extra load of washing and to bath her in the mornings before having to head to crèche. Now my question is this, after reading your post, if we're all feeling calm and happy despite having to wake up in the dark of night for a potty run am I doing harm or should we just keep doing what seems to be working for us? oh, and how do I get her to wake up on her own again like she did?? Or maybe it's just all the excitement of her birthday and now Christmas?? ps sorry for the long read...


Tuesday 8th of October 2013

hello. not sure if you will even see this, but why not try? :) My daughter is 3.5 and has been day trained for awhile. for nights she has been in pull ups. about a month ago, she started waking up earlier and earlier in the morning. some days she would go poop (if she has on a pull up, she will pee there, no matter what). her sleep was awful, and she was always tired. so I put her in underwear and we've been taking her twice at night to pee. Sometimes she is wet when we go in and we just change her, but she gets more sleep. Can you give me any advice? I was in no hurry to get her out of pull ups, but her sleep was suffering, so we did it. she can go a long stretch in the morning, like 1am-6:30 or 7, but often wets once during the night. thank you.


Wednesday 9th of October 2013

Laura! I was in the SAME boat. Sophia COULD stay dry all night if I went in and woke up her to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. But, it was exhausting both me and her. So, I simply left her in Pull-Ups for both of our sanity. Just these past 2 weeks she started waking up with a dry pull-up every morning. So, we've been doing panties again! She's doing so well. It's DEFINITELY important that she goes right before she lays down, but I don't wake her up at all anymore.

Honestly, I would say just wait until her little body is ready. I think I tried to rush Sophia in the beginning and it seems now she's is DEFINITELY ready! Good luck!


Tuesday 26th of February 2013

Good to know since we just started potty training for day time.


Monday 25th of February 2013

These are tried and true tips! We are still struggling with bed wetting on the nights when my boy is constipated, but we have started using the GoodNites bed mats and they have saved our mattress!

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