In Action: Potty Training at Night


Kaitlyn potty trained herself quite early–in fact, McKenna is the age Kaitlyn was when she stopped wearing diapers during the day…until McKenna was born and I didn’t want her needing to go potty while I was nursing the baby so I put her back in diapers for about 5 months…but that is a whole different story.

So anyway, while she was not wearing diapers in the day, I still had her in diapers at night.

Several months ago, I got thinking it was time to remove the nighttime diaper. She was a little over three.

The problem is that she wasn’t showing signs of being ready for no diaper at night. She didn’t wake up dry in the morning, even though I was waking her up in the morning, so I knew she was peeing in her diaper at some point in the night some nights.

Still, I just had the feeling she was ready for it.

So I gave her the warning I have talked about, letting her know well in advance that she wouldn’t be wearing diapres at night once the box of diapers ran out. As it got closer to the day, I told her how many days.

She would inform me that she wanted to wear diapers at night still. But happily, another desire crept up for her. She wanted to start drinking from regular cups at meals instead of sippy cups. I know, I know. She was old enough. But I rather enjoyed not cleaning up spilled milk at meals.

I then informed her that she could start drinking from a regular cup as soon as she stopped wearing diapers at night. She was immediately interested in the idea. I still kept the date the same for the big move.

The day came. I went in to get her in the morning. She was awake, but had peed in her bed.

Of course my first reaction was that we needed to go back to diapers. She obviously wasn’t ready and I had made a huge mistake. Some kids’ bladders just aren’t ready at that age. No big deal.

But still, I had a feeling that we should try again.

The next morning, she woke up clean and dry! Hurray!

The next morning, she was a little wet.

The next two mornings, clean and dry!

Then a wet morning.

Then a week of dry!

Then a wet morning.

Then months and months of dry!

The moral here? First, stick with your gut. Second, expect accidents along the way. Just because something isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do. Third, have patience.

Oh how I hated washing her bedding several days a week, but it was worth it.

Another thing, we put her little potty in her room so if she needed to go potty she could easily get to one and we could avoid accidents.

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14 thoughts on “In Action: Potty Training at Night”

  1. Thank you for this post! My daughter is 3 also and needs to be night potty trained. I am wondering about how you said you leave a little potty in her room. Do you also leave toilet paper and does she wipe herself? Thank you.

  2. Thanks for this. DD1 is 3 yrs and 8 months and has been daytrained since 20 months old (young). But she never had a dry diaper in her life until just a couple of months ago for nightsleep (day sleep is fine). It was pretty erratic but she started to have some nights dry, some wet, etc. At first maybe one time a week. Our pattern now can be a couple nights dry, then couple nights completely soaked,etc. So I'm not sure yet.My question is, when she was wet, did she wake up? Or did she sleep through it unbothered? Or just wake a bit earlier in the AM?We just moved to MI so I was holding off on any changes until getting settled but I'm also thinking about how it is really quite cold at night now and going to be getting colder. If she is wetting herself at night in this cold weather i would think that would be really uncomfortable. So did it disturb Kaitlyn's sleep? Thanks for any ideas!

  3. YS, I have no idea! She is so odd. My guess is that she woke up and had an accident in the morning. I explain to her that she can come get me, but she doesn't. She has even thrown up in bed before and I don't find out until morning. Brayden let's me know right away if there is a problem 🙂 My guess as to why she is this way is because she had reflux so she spent a lot of time throwing up and being wet without me knowing. A reflux baby spits up quite often.

  4. So, my dtr is 2yrs, 8months and we have gotten the pee training down pretty well. I still put her in pull-ups for church and outings, but usually she stays dry even in the pull-up. Poop is hit and miss, sometimes she'll go in the potty, sometimes in her diaper during nap, sometimes she'll have an accident in her underwear. But how did you know when to train on night-time. Do you have a nightlight? I've thought about a potty in her room, but am afraid of what might happen to the contents. lol Anyway, I'm just so happy that she's getting the peeing part, but don't want to put off the rest to long, that she won't get used to pooping during her naps (which she has been doing for quite some time).

  5. So DD will be 4 next month and seems no closer to night training than before….in fact she seemed to have dry diapers more often a month or two ago! Seems weird. Now it's very infrequent. Anyways, is there a point you worry about it? I assumed most kids were night trained by age 4? I have heard many opinions/comments and wonder…..BUT a lot of other kids aren't BW kids who don't sleep long nights either.

  6. Snydsy33, most people say the child is reading for night training when she consistently wakes up clean and dry in the morning. This is true for most children.However, some won't show that sign. Kaitlyn was that way. I kept waiting and waiting, and she never woke dry more than one day in a row. Finally I just put her in panties at night (I gave her fair warning like I have discussed in another post). She did great. She had a few accidents, but quickly stayed dry consistently. So with her, I don't know how long it would have taken for the sign to be there.One thing, though, is I think for a 2 year old, I would wait for a sign. I would wait until 3 before considering moving forward with no signs.

  7. Michael and Yvonne,I think it is actually 6 when most kids are night trained by. I think it is worth mentioning to the child's doctor, but my guess is he/she will say it isn't something to worry about yet. The set back isn't odd. The bladder is one of the last things to grow as the child has growth spurts, so she will grow but her bladder won't catch up for a bit. Some parents do a potty break in the night much like a dreamfeed. A dreampee 🙂 They take the child to the bathroom then put them back to bed. So that is an idea. I think with some, they do that for a short while then make it through on their own. But that would only be the case if the child was physically capable.

  8. My daughter is now a little over 3 1/2 and has been potty trained during the day since last summer. We officially did away with the diaper at night this past January. She would then wake often at night crying needing to go potty, and I would take her and she'd go back to sleep. This would happen several times a night. She has only wet the bed 2 times since taking away the diaper. I expected her to wake a lot the first couple of weeks while getting used to not having a diaper, but like I said, that was back in January when we started and it's now 8 months later and she is still waking several times a night to go potty. There have been some nights in between there where she's slept all night or only gotten up 1 time (which is such a treat that it's just as good as all night!). But most of the time it's anywhere from 2-5 times a night she's going. And of course I cut her off of liquids at least an hour to an hour and a half before bed, but it doesn't seem to matter because there have been some nights that she has had something to drink right before bed and I thought for sure she was going to be up a lot and then doesn't wake up at all! I'm not sure what's happening first–either she's not sleeping good and even the slightest feeling of having to pee is causing her to get up and go OR she really does have to go and that's what's waking her. I also found out I was pregnant in January and I was nervous about having 2 kids getting up all night, but everyone assured me that this would certainly go away by the time the baby comes. I'm now a little over a week away from having this baby, and it's not ANY better! And it is incredibly exhausting having to get up that many times a night now with being pregnant. But after the baby comes, once one falls asleep, the other is going to wake up–I'm nervous about how that's going to leave my sanity! 🙂 So anyway, I was just wondering if you've experienced this with your kids at all or have heard of other kids. Everyone I talk to who has kids the same age all say their kid doesn't ever wake up once they're asleep. Thanks so much for any help or advice you can give!!!

  9. Stephanie, I haven't experienced that at all. I know some moms take their child to potty right before they go to bed–it is like a "dream pee."I would wonder if it is some sort of habit. If she still is waking up and you have a new baby, I would honestly put her in a diaper for nights again. If you are getting up all night long between two children, you are going to be unable to function. If you would like, I can post this as a "help a reader out' question to see if there are some good ideas and experience out there.

  10. Hi, my daughter turned 4 a week ago, and about 12 days beforehand we gave her the warning, and said on her birthday she would no longer have pull-ups at night anymore. Each day since then, she’s been wet by her dream-pee at 10:30 pm, and often by morning as well. So she seems to be mostly peeing shortly after falling asleep, despite going potty at least twice in the hour leading up to bedtime.

    She’s been clean for 6 months- and is mostly dry. Some days she has no accidents. Most of the accidents that do happen during the day happen when I let her play outside for too long and she gets busy playing with the other kids and neglects coming inside to go potty. It’s a really big yard and she’s got FOMO and the combination of the distance to the toilet and missing out on playing with the neighbor kids are stumbling blocks. I even set timers for her to come inside and go potty, but she can sometimes even need to go a half hour after the last time, depending on what drinks she has had, so even an hour timer is hit or miss.

    When I’m with her all day, she doesn’t have any accidents because I see her start to wiggle and tell her to go potty, or I send her before it gets to that point. But she doesn’t care if she has an accident outside- she’ll just keep on playing. At what age can I expect her to go on her own in time without being reminded? We’ve tried all sorts of positive reinforcement and incentives, but nothing works. But I was inspired by this post and so we gave warning and decided at 4 she was old enough to stop wearing nighttime pull-ups.

    My husband says he and his siblings all wet the bed until they were much older….even as old as twelve. Could there be a genetic component? He said they were all constipated, which I’ve heard can be a factor. Our daughter isn’t….she is plant-based so things flow very smoothly for her.

    As we’ve only been working on this for a week should we just keep going? Or should I be adjusting something? We’ve incentivized her even with ice cream for breakfast. She’s really food-driven so we thought that would work but it didn’t.

    Any advise here would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hello!

      Not making it through the night is much more common than you might think. Since your husband was that way, I would say it is her genetics and to go back to a pull up at night. Talk to her doctor about it and bring it up at each well-child check. Most doctors do not get concerned at all until maybe age 10. It is that common.

      Something you can try is a bedwetting alarm, but if it were me, I would just do pull-ups right now and turn to the alarm at an older age if she hasn’t naturally stopped wetting at night on her own.

      The daytime stuff is different. It is understandable she would want to have fun and not come inside, but she does need to learn to stop and go potty when she feels the urge. Have you ever watched the Daniel Tiger episode about that with her? As silly as it sounds, kids really respond well to that, then you can sing the little song to her to remind her she needs to go.

      I would create a sticker chart to incentivize her to stay dry. Focus on being dry. Rather than reminding her to go potty, ask her every once in a while if she stayed dry. If she is dry at checks, she gets to put a sticker on the chart. Work up to some special treat or activity when she fills it up.


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