If teaching your child to use the potty during the day is the battle, nighttime potty training is the war. In fact, many kids figure out the tricks of the toilet during their waking hours, but they fail to do so come evening. They can’t really help it – many bladders get a little wild and crazy once the sun goes down.
Even so, most kids learn eventually that dreams aren’t made of soaked and soiled sheets. And you can help them get there by doing the following:
1. Go in order
Somehow, somewhere there is probably a child who learned how to hold his urine through the night before he learned to do it when he was awake. But, this certainly isn’t the norm. The vast majority of kids only make it through a night without the need for rubber sheets after they’re in control when they’re conscious.
2. Limit liquids
You don’t have to limit your child’s consumption of liquids at all hours – here’s one ice cube for the day Frances, make it last. But timing is everything. Following dinner, keep fluids to a minimum and limit those fluids to water. It’s nature’s juice, after all.
3. Go potty before bed
It’s a given that you should instruct your child to go potty before they hit the hay, but don’t just do it once: do it twice. An hour or so before bed, take your child to the restroom. Then do it again right before you turn down the covers. This helps assure that when the sandman visits, he doesn’t need Clorox.
4. Limit the use of Pull-ups
Many parents put their kids in overnight diapers for an extended period after they’re potty trained. That’s understandable: it gets old cleaning sheets day after day. But if your child’s Pull-up is dry come morning, they’re probably ready to try a night with regular underwear. If you’re worried about your mattress, consider a plastic protector. Tell your kid that it’s like sleeping in a balloon.
If your child’s not yet ready to be pulled from the Pull-ups, that’s okay – they’ll get there (or they’ll someday be forced to have a very awkward conversation with their spouse). But, beware, diapers at night shouldn’t equate to diapers during the day – allowing your child to wear diapers after they’ve potty trained puts them at risk of regression.
This is also true once you’ve made the transition from nighttime diapers to nothing. If your child has begun to go to bed in their underwear, keep them that way. They might have accidents, but don’t revert back to Pull-ups. That’ll stymie their progress.
5. Encourage bathroom use
Kids wake up for various reasons during the night – they hear a noise, they have a bad dream, the monster under their bed snores too loud. Remind your child that they need to use the restroom each and every time they wake up, even if they don’t feel as though they need to go.
You might also consider underwear with a bedwetting alarm – this is a special type of clothing with moisture sensing technology. It wakes your child at first drop and helps them understand the connection between the brain and the bladder.
While the above tips help your child acclimate to nighttime potty training, they’ll continue to have accidents here and there. Wetting or soiling a bed during sleep isn’t something a child controls – they’re not aware they’re doing it. So withhold punishments, and maybe soda, fiber, and diuretics too.