About a month ago, we ended our three and a half year run with diapers. After our son proved that he was fully potty trained during the day, we started watching his diapers in the morning. And when he woke up dry for a solid week, we decided to ditch the diapers. While I did push hard for daytime potty training, I did not mention or push for night time potty training because I knew it was a purely physical milestone, rather than stubbornness.
We decided to do it the first night he slept in his big boy bed. We made a big deal out of how he was such a big boy and that came with the privilege of getting out of bed to grab a book or to go potty any time. (So far he has not abused this privilege, knock on wood!) I’m so glad that we took the plunge because he was completely ready. Zero accidents and he is so proud of himself!
Here’s the quick guide that we used to determine whether or not he was ready and how to approach nighttime potty training:
Step 1: He Has To Be Ready
Is he staying dry throughout the day with ease? Is he waking up with a dry diaper the majority of the time? Then he’s probably ready! The physical ability to hold urine for long periods of time plus the nerve signal from the bladder to the brain to wake up to pee is both part of age – 66% of kids under three years old have night time control, and almost 75% have it under the age of four years.
Step 2: Get A Waterproof Mattress Pad
Accidents are going to happen and you’re going to want to protect the mattress. Also be sure to have dry underwear and pajamas on hand for a fast change should he wet the bed.
Step 3: Limit His Fluids
A few hours before bedtime, start limiting fluid intake. For us, that means no drink after dinner time and only one small sip of water before bed. Absolutely have him use the potty right before bedtime.
Step 4: Wake Her Up
This is an old trick of my mother’s – each night before she went to bed, she’d wake us (her children!) up to go to the bathroom. It would give us a few more hours of space in our bladders, since we’d have the chance to empty anything that had been filtered in the few hours between our bedtime and 11 PM. Sure, she had to help us onto the toilet and prop us up since we were still mostly asleep, but we never had problems getting right back into bed.
Step 5: Celebrate Success!
Accidents are going to happen. The key is to NOT shame your child if she wets the bed – remember, this skill is mostly physical and it will come with age. Just simply clean up the mess, change her clothes, and carry on as if nothing happened. You can consider giving small treats for each morning she wakes up dry – we didn’t find it necessary, but your child may respond well!