Nighttime Potty Training

 In Healthy Sleep, Night Wakings, Sleep Disturbances

Going Diaper Free at Night!

Nighttime potty training is another one of those parenting milestones that can look peculiar to outsiders. But for those of us who’ve been through it, we know that a celebration is in order. The day we finally say our final farewell to diapers for good is a momentous occasion. It’s not as sexy as completing your Master’s degree or landing a big promotion. However, handing down that Diaper Genie to one of your friends after getting your toddler 100% potty trained feels pretty darn amazing.

However, sometimes our enthusiasm can cause us to rush into it before our little ones are ready. And when that happens, we can end up setting the process back a bit. We get frustrated, our little one gets disheartened, and we end up calling it off rather than dealing with any more teary-eyed wake ups and wet sheets in the middle of the night.

So today, I’ve got some tips for you to determine whether or not your toddler’s ready to nighttime potty train. If they are, how to maximize your chances for success without sacrificing all of the progress you’ve made with their sleep.

Is your little one ready to go the night without using the potty?

This can be a tough question to answer so I encourage you to consider their physical, cognitive and emotional readiness.


I have seen nighttime potty training approaches that involve actually going into your child’s bedroom at regular intervals during the night, and waking them up to go to the bathroom! I strongly encourage you to avoid this approach. Sacrifice sleep for potty training is a big no no. Your little one has done so well finally start sleeping peacefully through the night, it’s way too confusing to a toddler to wake up every 3-4 hours to go to the bathroom.

If your toddler can’t get through the night without needing to pee, they’re not ready for this. Leave their diaper on at night and tackle this at a later date.

If, however, your little one’s had a few weeks of waking up with a dry diaper, that could mean that they’re up to the challenge. That’s really the prime indicator that this might be a good time to give it a shot. Two or three dry mornings in a week suggests that their bladder muscles have developed to the point where they can hold it for the night. So if that’s the case, let’s give it a shot.


Your child should have the ability to know when they have to use the bathroom and be able to get there in time to use the toilet.


This is one that had our family holding onto nighttime diaper longer than we perhaps needed to based on the two categories above. However our son would become anxious and explain his fears about sleeping through the night without a “night diaper”. He simply was not ready to let go of the security that came with wearing a diaper at night. So we let him lead the way here, and eventually he let us know he was ready.


Prepare yourself.

I’m sure there are stories out there about The Toddler Who Potty Trained Without a Single Accident. The odds of that happening, however, are not in your favor. So pick a week when you don’t have a whole lot going on. Stock up on extras; jammies and sheets. Harness your inner peace warrior and call on all your patience. There are likely going to be some accidents, and accepting that reality ahead of time will help you navigate this process in a calm and confident manner.

Keep this mindset when you’re explaining what’s going on to your toddler. It’s great to be enthusiastic and super-positive, but don’t make it sound too monumental. We’ve got to keep in mind that this isn’t something they have control over. Building up expectations on them can result in some feelings of failure and disappointment if they do have an accident in the night. This is also something to consider if you’re looking at a “reward chart”. If your toddler tends to get really upset by it, it might be better to let them succeed or fail without rewards and consequences.

Keys to success.

Make sure your toddler gets on the potty right before bed, even if they say they don’t need to go.

I know a lot of parents have found the best results with – A potty session 30 minutes prior to bedtime, then again right before bed.

When an accident happens, as it probably will a few times at least, don’t act disappointed or irritated. Just take your toddler by the hand and walk them back to their room. Go ahead and get them cleaned up, into some fresh jammies, and change their bed with the clean sheets you’ve prepared ahead of time.

Bonus tip:

Grab some plastic sheeting, lay a layer of that over the mattress, then a set of bed sheets, then another layer of plastic, then another set of bed sheets. That way, if there’s an accident in the night, you just go in, strip off the top layer, and bam! There’s a clean, dry, freshly made bed waiting underneath. That’ll help get you and your little one back to bed swiftly.

Keep the room as dark as possible and keep the process short. Try not to put your little one in the bath unless it’s necessary. Getting into the tub is likely to throw a wrench in your child’s sleep for the night. They might just get it into their heads that wetting the bed gets them fifteen minutes in the bath. For some kids, is going to sound like a pretty sweet proposition.

So what happens if it doesn’t take?

Well, if you’re still seeing regular accidents after a week or two, give it some consideration. Is your toddler ready and just not willing, or willing but not ready? And when you’re deciding, consider whether your own desire to see an end to diapers is weighing in on your decision. Any sane parent would love to say goodbye to diapers as soon as possible. But there really is no rushing this process. If they’re not ready, they’re not ready. You’re just putting a lot of unnecessary stress on both of you.

Remember, getting your toddler out of their diaper is not worth sacrificing their sleep routine. Don’t attempt this crazy “dream-potty” routine where you try to get them to pee while they’re still sleeping. Please don’t wake them up halfway through the night to go to the bathroom. Most of all, don’t drop two hundred bucks on a bed-wetting alarm. (How is that even a thing?) You’ve already put the work in to get them sleeping through the night, you’re much better off just waiting until the moment is right.

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