In Action: Potty Training at Night

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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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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Lana
    November 6, 2010 / 7:10 PM

    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. ys
    November 10, 2010 / 11:58 PM

    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. Plowmanators
    November 17, 2010 / 3:53 AM

    Lana, yes, she wipes herself.

  4. Plowmanators
    November 17, 2010 / 3:57 AM

    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.

  5. snydsy33
    January 11, 2011 / 10:51 PM

    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).

  6. Michael and Yvonne
    January 12, 2011 / 2:30 AM

    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.

  7. Plowmanators
    January 20, 2011 / 7:22 PM

    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.

  8. Plowmanators
    January 20, 2011 / 7:25 PM

    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.

  9. Stephanie
    September 8, 2011 / 4:36 PM

    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!!!

  10. Plowmanators
    September 26, 2011 / 4:37 AM

    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.

  11. Stephanie
    September 30, 2011 / 7:49 AM

    Sure! I'll take any ideas! Thanks!

  12. Plowmanators
    October 26, 2011 / 9:21 PM

    Hey Stephanie, I just posted it, so hopefully you get some experience in there!

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