Four Steps to Night Time Potty Training

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.

Four Steps to Night Time Potty Training

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”.

Four Steps to Night Time Potty Training

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!

Four Steps to Night Time Potty Training

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?

25 Comments on “Four Steps to Night Time Potty Training

  1. Oh man – the dreaded potty training! I’m glad it was so successful for you! Ours was pretty painless but my son was almost 3 before he was showing signs of readiness. You’ve outlined some great tips here!

  2. We’re pushing 3 years old and the potty training is not going well! These are definitely ideas I’ll use when he’s ready to try again!

  3. You’ve got some great tips here. I’m working on a post on this same subject including a product review. I would love to quote you and link back to you if that’s okay 🙂

    • Of course that’s okay! I also have a post on potty training in general (mostly day time stuff). Let me know if you’d like the link for that one too.

  4. We’ve been talking about this a lot lately. It daughter is day potty trained, but she usually sleeps in a diaper. I am so ready to nighttime train her too. Thanks for the tips!

  5. I hate to say it but my 4.5 yr old still wears a pull up at night….we’ve tried alot of different things. But have taken a break since I gave birth to my second little guy this past December….it might be time to start trying again. It’s just hard to deal with two kids in the middle of the night…when does a mama sleep?

  6. My daughter is now 4 since January. She’s set with potty training during the day, however, nighttime is a whole other animal. She doesn’t seem fazed by wet big girl panties, sleeps hard and throws a fit when I try to wake her to go to the potty. Literally refuses to go. My strong-willed child and this questioning mom need help. Thoughts?

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one! I can wake up my4.5 year old and stand her up and she’s still in a deep sleep.

  7. I’m with Jessica!!! My daughter will be four in November and we are still wearing a diaper to bed at night and if we try to wake her to go potty it’s bad news and we don’t get to go back to bed for at least two hours!! I have three other children that when they potty trained through the day they potty trained at night as well, but our last one has been a different story!! She does wake up some nights dry but then when we put her in big girl panties she always wets them but never wakes up!! Eventually after a week of washing sheets everyday I’m ready to put the diaper back on!! We would love some ideas to throw those diapers away for good!!! Thanks

  8. My son is 5.5 and still wears a pull-up to bed. It has been a real struggle to get him up at night as he is a deep sleeper and even wetting his underwear and the sheets doesn’t seen to affect him. We have been at it for almost a week now with the pee pads (so I don’t do as much laundry) and I set an alarm every night to get him up at 4:15am. He goes before bed and I have cut him off from drinking and eating after 6:30pm. I am running out of ideas and would love any feedback. Thanks

  9. First of all, I loved the post! Great tips! I have a 6 year old daughter, who doesn’t wear pull-ups to bed but wets the bed 5 out of 7 days during the week. She also just pee’s in her pants during the day and won’t let anyone know. I also have a four year old who is completely potty trained during the day, has been for two years now, but he does wear a pull up at night! When he wakes up in the morning he is soaked through his pull up! We stop fluids right after dinner and make each child go to the bathroom twice before bed.. still a dead end! Now my youngest daughter is two and ready to potty train and I have no idea where to start.

    • With your youngest, I’d suggest training day time and night time at the same time. Try going “all in” and see how she does. She might surprise you! As for the four year old, maybe try waking him to go to the bathroom when you go to bed, and again an hour or so before he gets up for the day. It’s not going to be fun, but it should teach him that waking up to go to the bathroom is perfectly normal and his body might just pick up on it! For your oldest, I’m not entirely sure. I’m sure it’s something she’ll outgrow, but as for helping her in the interim… Maybe trying the overnight wakings would help her too? Wouldn’t hurt to try!

  10. For oldest children, be patient. There is a medical condition which delays the brain from receiving the cues that the bladder is full during sleep. In fact, roughly 6 out 10 children ages 6 to 12 wet the bed. My oldest son is among them at 10 1/2, despite all the different “steps” and plans, even waking and medication. All that did was frustrate him and, in time, embarrass him. He knows he *should be night trained* according to society, but he just can’t do it.
    We talk about wearing diapers or special underwear being similar to needing crutches when you break a bone – until the body is able to do what it needs to do. We stopped pushing him to stay dry and stopped trying all the millions of ideas. It wasn’t worth the stress it put on him.

    If your child is over 6 and you’ve made an honest attempt that didn’t work, maybe sit down and have a conversation with them, find out their perspective on it, see what they think. Be open to being understanding and accepting that their bodies just might not be able.

  11. Ok, sounds like a good plan but my little girl is almost 6 and still wets at night. She is fine during the day, just don’t wake up at night for anything!!! I could vaccum her room while ahe sleeps and wouldnt wake her. I asked the doctor about her bed wetting and he told me to give her till she was 8!!

  12. Thank you for the tips. Sometimes i think timing is everything in this unique process.

  13. Thank you so much for nice tips. My 2 and a half year old gave me a little hard tme before getting potty trained. I used the same method for no diaper at all both day and night time. Everything was going well since last week he started wetting his underwear quite often no fix time no fixed roitien. The mistake I made was putting a diaper on for an outing. My question is does this really makes a difference or its just in my idea? I hope we’ll get back to our routien soon.

  14. I know some of these comments are old but I have to say that my husband wet the bed as a kid and the only thing that helped him was when his parents switched him to a water bed. I have no idea why that would work, but it did for him. I am pretty sure that they still sell them these days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *