- Jessica Berk
Don’t Let Nighttime Potty Training Wreck Sleep
You think you want your child out of diapers until you actually try potty training. Am I right?
Daytime potty training is hard enough. But nighttime potty training can have a disastrous ripple effect from bedtime all the way through until the morning.
Even for kids who are typically rockstar sleepers, nighttime potty training can become a real nightmare if you let it.
Your child might start asking for ten million bathroom breaks after lights out and somehow be able to squeeze out a drop of pee each time.
Or maybe they start wetting the bed or waking you up overnight to take them to the bathroom.
I don’t want nighttime potty training to screw up sleep at your house.
Just because they’re learning how to use the potty, doesn’t mean they should forget how to sleep!
Here are 3 main ways that nighttime potty training can ruin a toddler's sleep. Learn what to watch out for and what to do about it.
1. Frequent bed wetting
Frequent bed wetting is probably happening because you’re trying nighttime potty training too soon.
Actually, there’s no such thing as nighttime potty training. Not really.
During the day, you can “train” your child to feel the need to go potty by taking off their diaper and allowing some accidents to happen so they learn about the sensation they feel before the accident.
The problem at night is that they’re asleep - they can’t feel that pre-pee feeling. If you take the pull up off at night, they will wake up after they wet the bed, but they aren’t awake before the accident to feel that sensation. So, allowing them to wet the bed isn’t actually teaching them anything - it’s only disrupting their sleep and making a mess for you to clean up.
The idea that you can potty “train” a child overnight is actually not accurate.
The brain wiring that is required to wake a child up to feel the sensation of needing to go potty, often takes longer to mature than the wiring required for daytime potty training. It’s nothing you or the child can control. It’s just a different process that has to form in the brain to wake the child from a deep sleep.
It can take months or even years longer for kids to master nighttime potty training. In fact, about 15% of healthy 5 year olds are not dry overnight.
So, doctors recommend that you wait until the child is totally dry overnight for 2 weeks before you try a night without pull ups. Staying dry overnight for 14 continuous days shows that the brain has matured to the point where it can either hold the bladder until the morning or wake the child up in time to go potty.
2. Stalling at bedtime with never ending trips to the potty
Once kids realize that you love for them to go potty and you’re so proud of them when they do it, this can quickly become a major bedtime stall tactic. And kids have the uncanny ability to squeeze out a drop of pee every time they sit on the toilet!
So, incorporate potty breaks into the bedtime routine so they have a chance to go. Notice that I said potty breaks - with an “s”. Have them use the potty before you get started with the routine and maybe once more before lights out. Building these potty opportunities into the bedtime routine takes away some of the need to use the potty as a stall tactic.
If your kiddo is really obsessed with the potty, having them say goodnight to the potty and wave 'bye bye' is a good way to help them understand that they are done with the potty for the day.
3. Waking up overnight asking for help to go potty
Your child may realize that waking you up to help them go potty overnight is acceptable. If they were already waking up, now they have an excuse. And if they weren't waking before, you may see it begin. And, of course, you feel like you need to take them - it's the bathroom, right! So, even though being woken up multiple times at night to walk them to the potty is frustrating, you think you have to do it.
During these overnight potty breaks, your child may actually pee... or they may not. They may just want to sit there for a while and hang out with you. Lucky you! Afterward, they may go back to bed easily... or this may start a major overnight sleep protest. Lots of times these “potty breaks” become more of an excuse to get up overnight and get attention from you.
Once your child is nighttime potty trained, they should be able to use the potty pretty independently - especially just for urine. You can work on these skills during the day. To prevent the overnight disturbances, I recommend giving them access to a potty overnight and encouraging them to go by themselves or even putting a toddler potty in their room.
You may find that once they’re not able to wake you up and get attention from you anymore, the wake ups disappear.
My hope is that this nighttime potty training guidance will preserve sleep for you and your child and save you from doing tons of laundry!!
If you need help getting your kid to stop stalling and fall asleep easily before 8pm or help stopping middle of the night wake ups, learn more about my proven 4-part REST Method™ by reserving your spot in an upcoming free Toddler Sleep Masterclass. >>CLICK HERE<<