If your oldest is potty training, you may be totally surprised to hear that potty training at night often happens months or years after they’re toilet trained in the day. I wish I knew that a few years ago! I’ll never forget how lost I felt potty training my first son. When do you start? Pants or no pants? Sit or stand? Do you wake them up at night or wear diapers? And was this going to mean less sleep while still up nights nursing another baby? That sent my anxiety through the roof.
I couldn’t bring myself to potty train at night if it meant waking up and taking my toddler potty, or doing loads of extra laundry. After all, we had a newborn. So here’s what we did: We didn’t do any potty training at night. I’ll explain in more detail how this worked and how we eventually got out of diapers at night…naturally.
After potty training 3 kids, let me explain what we did and why this may be the easiest “night training” option for you!
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When should a child stop using diapers at night?
My philosophy for our family is to stop using diapers at bed time when my kids are totally dry in the morning for a few weeks.
My son was about 5.5, and my daughter didn’t need night diapers at age 4. Keep in mind this means that both of them peed in diapers at night for around 2 years after they were day time potty trained!
My almost 3 year old still wears diapers just at naps and night time. It’s one less thing to get frustrated over and a lot less dirty laundry!
Do you use special night diapers?
No, we don’t. I use store brand diapers from Aldi because I’m cheap, and they *usually* work fine, but only if there’s a brand new diaper on just before bed with no pee in it at all. Even regular day time Huggies or Costco diapers would probably be better than what we use.
If you’re worried about it, grab some night time diapers and call it good.
What if my kid is wetting the bed at age 5 or 6?
This was us, and I never found it a reason to worry.
It’s easy to wonder when your kid will ever be dry at night when you compare. Maybe your friend’s kid did the 3 day potty training method and woke up at nights to take her kid pee for weeks or months and now they don’t use diapers at night with their 4 year old.
Basically, when kids are developmentally ready to hold their pee in all night, they will.
Most kids will stay dry naturally around age 5. A pediatric nephrologist in this post says bed wetting isn’t even considered a problem until age 7, and that if he meets a child having issues wetting the bed its twice as likely to be a boy.
According to this article, a child wouldn’t be diagnosed with urinary incontinence till they are at least 7 and wetting the bed more than 2x per month. Some reasons kids have incontinence issues may be:
- delayed maturity
- overactive bladder
- deep sleeper
- severe stress event
- medical conditions
How I realized my kids could hold their pee in all night
I’m the type of person that just doesn’t love change when it comes to sleep. For example, I’ve never been in a rush to get my kid out of a Pack’ N ‘ Play because “they’re too old”, or to to stop using diapers at night sooner rather than later to save money.
We probably kept our kids in diapers at night longer than needed because I hadn’t been paying close attention to their diapers first thing in the morning. They’d eat their cereal and go play and take off their own diapers.
After paying closer attention, I knew my kids could hold their pee in all night when they were waking up dry. I know, seems obvious. But it wasn’t back when my oldest was wearing diapers for bed.
Check their diaper first thing in the morning for dryness
For a while we actually thought my son was still peeing in his diaper at night because they were full…until we saw him (multiple times) wake up in the morning (initially dry) and crouch a little while peeing in his diaper.
My o my. So convenient little man! That was our sign he was too old for diapers…like maybe way too old.
Should you use diapers at nap time when potty training?
We did! Maybe because nap time is practically sacred to me, and I don’t want waking up wet being an issue ever.
I kept a diaper on at nap time until we saw weeks worth of dry diapers at naps. If it wasn’t wet at all, I’d just take it off and use it for the overnight diaper. My youngest is almost 3 and has been potty & poop trained for about 6 months, but he still gets a diaper for naps.
A lot of times he wakes up dry for a 2 hour nap, but on occasion I’ve forgotten a diaper. Those days are a toss up of lucking out with a dry kid OR ending up with a kid who wakes up early & wet.
Don’t let waking up wet be the reason you let go of your child’s nap! I am big on keeping nap time for as long as possible. My first stopped napping at age 6, my middle still naps most days for an hour (she’s newly 5), and my youngest naps for about 2 hours a day (almost age 3). Feel free to see how we juggled nap time with 3 kids.
A few things to keep in mind before you potty train at night without diapers
No matter when you start to potty train at night without diapers, accidents are bound to happen now and then. Here are a few things that really help once you can’t rely on a diaper to catch the pee.
Stop liquids right after dinner time
This way they are not filling up right before bed. And hopefully they’ll have the chance to go pee one more time before bed.
We never sent our kids to bed thirsty, and they were always allowed to have a “last drink” before bed. It’s literally a swig or two from a cup by the sink.
Buy a waterproof mattress protector and waterproof crib mattress
We were given a hand-me-down crib mattress (now our toddler bed) like this waterproof one, Right now, my 3 year old sleeps on it and occasionally I’ve forgotten to put a diaper on him at nap time and even bed time. While he wakes up soaked and sad, cleaning up is easy and I don’t have to worry about pee getting into his mattress and stinking.
To make cleaning even easier so you don’t have pee sliding around on your mattress, put this crib mattress protector on which is easy to wash and will soak up any pee from accidents better than just a sheet. It also kind of acts a bed cushion.
Clear a path to the potty for those toilet runs in the dark
You laugh, but having a cleared path (no toys or things to trip over) has been the difference of our kiddos running to the toilet early in the morning not making it quite in time. I especially try and make things like Legos or cords from their fan are out of the way!
Make kids try to go potty once right before bed
Even if our kids say they don’t have to go, we ask them to sit on the potty and try just before we tuck them into bed. Often a small trickle will come out but they didn’t feel they had to go. Every drop counts!
How to handle the excuse “I have to go potty” to get out of bed
I’m a sucker for this because sometimes they do have to go…even though it’s usually just a stall tactic. I get the glorious job of cleaning the peed sheets, pajamas, and changing the bed, so naturally I’m wanting to make sure they don’t pee the bed because it’s more work for me. They just know it’s an easy way to manipulate me, honest truth!
We now let them come out ONE time to pee (even though they tried peeing just before bed).
They don’t get to come chat with us, or shout from the room “I have to pee!” but go straight to the bathroom without talking. It’s become a non issue really. And because it’s not that fun if they can’t talk to us, they usually only come out now if they actually have to pee.
How is potty training at night going for you?
Ask yourself if wanting to ditch diapers at night it’s a cost thing, an environmental thing, or a comparison thing. Even if your child is a bit older than some and in a diaper at night, it won’t last forever. And no one needs to know if you prefer!
How is potty training going so far? Have you started to potty train at night? Let me know below, and be sure to pin this for later!