It’s likely that you’ve popped over to this post because you’ve mastered day time toilet training and now your little one is still not dry at night and you are worried.
Please let me reassure you – there’s really no need to worry at all! Night-time toilet training is quite different from daytime training, and many little ones take quite some time to be dry at night. Every child is different! Just because they are dry and have been dry during the day for quite some time, it doesn’t mean they should be dry at night.
When should my child be dry at night?
I always say with toilet training – it’s never an age thing, it’s a child thing and so, it really is a case of going by your own little one.
On average the majority of little ones are around 3 1/2 or 4 years of age before they are reliably dry at night but some take a lot longer. I have known children to still need the safety of night-time pants or protective covers at the age of 7 or 8, mainly down to being very deep sleepers.
Even if your child is dry at night at 3 /12 you’ll find they have the odd accident and so it’s, with the odd ‘accident’ and this is nothing to worry about at all. Even older children have accidents occasionally.
How do I know my child is ready for night-time toilet training?
I’ve already mentioned above that with toilet training it’s really a child thing not an age thing, and the same applies for night-times, so go by your own child and look out for signs that they may be ready, these include:
* Asking to not wear a night nappy or night-pants, or removing them themselves during the night.
*The night nappy/pants are only slightly damp in the morning, rather than very full.
*Your child wakes in the night to go to the toilet by themselves, or ask you to help them go.
If your child is showing one or all of the above indicators, it’s worth giving night-time toilet training a go.
How do I start night toilet-training?
Preparation is the key!
The best thing you can do is prepare your child for night-time toilet training.
Explain what they’ll need to do, that because they are doing so well that really there is no need for night nappies anymore. Talk about how they stopped wearing nappies in the day and now they’re ready to try at night-time too.
Let it be an adventure – let your child feel excited about being grown-up! Having said this – don’t apply too much pressure. Talk to them about accidents and how it’s not a big deal, and they might happen if they don’t get to the toilet in time.
Invest in a good protective mattress cover
To save your mattress – invest in one (or even two ) waterproof fitted sheets to put underneath your child’s usual bedsheets. These really will save your mattress and endless sleepless nights. If you’d prefer it – you can even use padded disposable mats for them to sleep on. These can work really well, but, if like my two little ones, your child is a fidget – they’ll likely move it around and it’ll offer no protection if needed.
Accidents will happen in the first few attempts so prepare for this and prepare for night-time night-clothes and sheet changes! If the accidents are every night though – it is better to wait a few more weeks and try again. Sleep is far more important than being dry at night.
Encourage good toilet habits
Make sure that your little one uses the toilet right before bed; make this part of the bedtime routine so it becomes second nature. Ensure they have had a good try and then settle to bed.
Let your child know that the bathroom light will be on – it may be an idea to leave their door open a little in those early days so they can find their way to the light in their sleepy state.
Lift them late at night
Some parents lift their little ones from bed and pop them onto the toiletwhen they go up to bed themselves. This has always worked for me both as a professional nanny and now with my own two children. It’s particularly helpful for little ones who are deep sleepers.
Some children will go to the toilet with your lifting and helping them, then go right back to sleep, where others may get upset and and refuse. The only way you’ll know if this works for you and your child is to give it a try. It really can reduce accidents and get your child into the habit of going to the toilet in the night.
Wake up for a wee!
As grown-ups the first thing we do on waking is pop to the toilet – so get your child into the habit of going to the toilet on waking. In the morning our bladders are full, and for little ones who are just learning night toilet-training this can be the time they have an accident. Like the evening ritual of going to the loo last thing before bed – make it part of their routine. ‘Wake up for a wee!’ is a great way of putting the idea into your child’s head.
Accidents will happen
As stressful as it is cleaning beds in the dead of night – don’t hold a grudge – accidents will happen in the early days – especially in the middle of the night. Keep calm, reassure and reward your child’s efforts.
Having said this, if the accidents happen all the time (more than two in a night, or one every night for a week) they may not be ready for night-time potty training. Go back into night nappies/pants and try again after a few weeks.
The key to successful night-time toilet training is to not stress or worry about it. It will come in time and it really is an individual thing not an age thing. Go by your child and don’t compare them to others. Don’t push them if they are not ready and don’t make it an unhappy time. Think positively – you’ve already done the biggest job – daytime toilet training, which can be hard to master, so try not to worry too much about the nights.
Finally, if your child is older (over 5) and has had several attempts at night-time toilet training over a prolonged period with no success and you are worried – pop along to your GP to discuss your concerns. There may be an underlying problem that needs addressing.
I do hope these tips have helped and reassured you into giving night-time toilet training a go! Please do share if you found this post helpful.
My new Toilet Training Book is out early 2015!