Updated on November 6, 2015
Four Steps to Night Time Potty Training
When we decided to give potty training a go with The Heir, we wanted to do it all in one go. It just seemed to make sense to go completely diaper free at once. Wishful thinking, right? Well, maybe not. We had a plan for potty training and the method we wanted to use suggested training for days and nights at the same time. The Heir seemed ready to be diaper free overnight, but at only 22 months old we just weren’t sure it would work. One of the signs that he was ready for night time training was that he woke up with a completely dry diaper. Not all the time, mind you, but a few times over the week before we started potty training. In theory, it was possible for him to stay dry overnight. With that in mind, we were ready to take the plunge with overnight training. Here’s how we did it.
As part of the method we were using for potty training, The Heir was in regular underwear 24/7. That included naps and bedtime. No diapers, no pull ups, no cloth trainers, just underwear. During the day, training was going surprisingly well, but night time was going to be a bit more challenging. We wouldn’t be in the room with him watching his every move, and we weren’t sure he’d wake up in time to make it to the bathroom. But you know what? Within just three nights, he wasn’t wetting the bed at all! Here are the four steps we took to make that happen.
Step One: Have the child use the potty twice before going to bed. After his nightly bath and before story time, we had The Heir try to make a pee on the potty. After a couple of stories, we’d take him back to the bathroom to try to go again. The hope was that his bladder would be totally empty by the time he went to sleep. If he didn’t go both times, we didn’t sweat it. We’d just read another story or two and then have him try to go pee one last time.
Step Two: Figure out when “pee hour” is. Because The Heir was capable of staying dry overnight, we decided to just let him sleep through the night in underwear and see what happened. That first night he woke up having wet the bed around 5:20am. The second night he woke up having wet the bed around 5:10am. We determined that “pee hour” was 5am for him. The next step was to get him to go pee on his own before “pee hour”.
Step Three: Set an alarm for yourself. Don’t worry, you won’t be waking up at all hours of the night forever, promise. I set myself an alarm for 4:50am. This way, I could wake up and wake The Heir before his “pee hour” started. I got him up, took him to the bathroom, he went pee in the toilet, and I took him right back to bed. He woke up dry around 7:30am. Success!
Step Four: Follow your child’s lead. I kept my alarm set for just one week. Tolerable, right? That second night with the alarm set I didn’t wake to it. Instead, I woke to The Heir calling for me around 3am. When I got to his room he was dry, but asked to go to the bathroom. When he woke up in the morning, he was still dry! Although I kept my alarm set for 4:50am for a full week, I only actually woke up to that alarm a few times. The other nights, The Heir woke up to ask to go to the bathroom himself. Hooray!
The goal of overnight potty training isn’t to have your child sleep all the way through the night without going to the bathroom or wetting the bed. Rather, the goal is to teach the child that getting up in the night to go to the bathroom is normal. That is exactly what The Heir learned through this process. Eventually he stopped needing to get up in the night to go to the bathroom, but he knows that if he does have to go pee at night, he can just get up and go!
What should you do if you child doesn’t have a “pee hour”? Not every child will wet the bed around the same time each night, and not every child will even wake up immediately after wetting the bed. That can make overnight training a bit more challenging, but not impossible by any means. Instead of waking the child up before a “pee hour”, you can wake the child up to go to the bathroom when you are getting ready to go to bed yourself. Then, set your alarm (no getting around that one I’m afraid) for about an hour before your child normally wakes up. Get the child up at that time and take them to the bathroom, and then take them back to bed. Again, the goal isn’t to get the child to hold it all night, but to show them that getting up to pee at night is totally normal!
Have you tackled night time potty training yet? What things did you do that helped the process along for your child?