Night Potty Training: What Doesn’t Work

10 Jul

Starting too soon

Daytime dryness should be firmly established before night time dryness is even considered. It is fine for young children to wear a diaper or pull-up during the night if they are still learning about daytime dryness. Night time dryness typically follows day time dryness by a few months or even a year or two. If you begin to see dry diapers in the morning, this may be a signal that you can gradually wean to underwear. Waterproof underpads are great for this transition.

Having unrealistic expectations

Pressuring your child to be dry for a special event or by a certain date (your birthday, our vacation) may be unrealistic. While day time dryness is within your child’s control, staying dry while they sleep is something your child has little control over. It takes a certain bladder size and a certain maturity of the brain-bladder connection to have dry nights. Bedwetting is defined as children over age 5 who still wet. Until then, it can be normal.

Trying at the wrong time

Working on nighttime dryness immediately before the birth of a sibling, before vacation or when a child is not at all interested may be fruitless. When your child notices others their age staying dry at night, or begins asking not to wear a diaper at night may be signs they are willing to try. Low family stress times are best to try this new behavior. Bedwetting alarms are the most effective treatment when kids are ready to take the next step.

Forgetting the common sense things

Common sense tells parents to help their child toilet before bed and not drink excessive amounts of liquids in the evening. This is just a good practice and should be continued. Other things that can make a difference are: constipation, and infrequent voiding and holding “it” during the day. Make sure your child has enough fiber and daytime fluid intake so he or she urinates about every two hours and has a soft stool most days.


It is not fair to punish for something your child has no control over. Be supportive and know that this is a process that can take time. Make your job easier by using waterproof bedding and pants. Do not tease or belittle your child or allow siblings to do this.

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