Bed Wetting / Night Time Potty Training

Category: Potty Training

Ideas for sleeping through the night -- with a dry bed!

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One member asked...

Does anyone have any good advice on how to potty train overnight? My kiddo is dry during the day, but still wakes up with a very wet diaper/pull up!

 

Parents advised...

 

Wake your child up before you go to bed to use the toilet:

“Both of my kids night-trained a year ago. The older was six. The younger was two. You're right about not pushing it - it's really up to an individual kid. You may try one thing we did - wake your daughter up before you go to bed and take her to the toilet. Worked for us..."

and

“IMHO, a lot of kids are just not developmentally ready to give up diapers during the night by their 3rd birthday. I have heard advice to cut off liquids after dinner, but I thought that wasn't fair to my daughter since I liked to keep a glass of water by my bed in case I woke up thirsty, and she often slept in my bed. My daughter was daytime trained before her 3rd birthday, but I didn't let her sleep in panties until she was almost 4. I didn't bother with pullups since regular diapers (supplemented by a super-size sanitary pad by the end, to eliminate overflow) hold a lot more and are cheaper. My daughter wanted to give up her pull ups at about 3 1/2 so we let her (note: she was day trained at 18 months). After a few accidents (and consulting the list for ideas), we decided to take her to the bathroom before we went to bed (between 10:30 and 11 usually). She's been dry about 29 of the last 30 days if we take her before we go to bed. Here's my complication (and something to think about if you are looking for ideas on night training). If we DON'T take her to the bathroom (example--one day we had dinner guests and went in to her at 11:30), she will commonly wet her bed. It seems we've trained her body to go at a certain time. Lately I've been talking to her about the feeling her body has when it needs to go potty during the day and that her body sends the same signal when she's asleep and that she just has to listen in her sleep. No clue if it's going to work-- she keeps asking me when I'm going to come in to take her to the bathroom.”

 

Try a moisture senstive alarm -- but remember it's a development thing and be patient:

“My two children night-trained at the same time. My older daughter was six years old. Her little sister was two. I kept bugging my pediatrician about my older kid sleeping in a pull-up at a ripe old ages of 4,5,and 6. The pediatrician said not to worry about it until age six, because up until then some kids' bladders are not large enough to make it through the night, and if a kid is a deep sleeper, the need to go to the bathroom doesn't wake them up. My daughter was definitely a deep sleeper - she would talk in her sleep, bang her head against the headboard, and none of this woke her up. We tried waking her up to pee, but could never timed it right, and half the time she wouldn't even wake up. She was wet every morning. The pediatrician said that if she still had this problem when she turned six, we should try a moisture-sensitive alarm that teaches the kid to wake up. You can get one at: http://www.bedwettingstore.com/ She said some insurances even cover them.

As our pediatrician had predicted, at six years old our daughter stopped wearing a pull-up to bed. Her 2-year-old baby sister, who shares her room, wanted to get rid of her diaper too. Although she was trained by day, we were terrified and begged her to keep it on overnight, but she said no, and that was that. She is a lighter sleeper than her sister, and we wake her up to pee every night before we go to bed.  Every kid is different. If they have a combination of small bladder+deep sleeper, they may end up in pull-ups longer than other kids. In my opinion, the kids in the e-mails below are still very young. Maybe just let them sleep in pull-ups for now.”

 and:

"When nothing seemed to work, I finally got the Rodger wireless alarm system from bedwettingstore.com. Within 2-3 weeks of using the alarm, she was out of pull-ups. I also used these while training her with the alarm. The pads are great because they go on top of the fitted sheet with an adhesive backing and you can just pull it off and not have to wash the sheets/blankets!"

 

Try washable potty training pants -- but  remember what is normal:

"It is normal for kids to continue to not be trained while asleep until much older than your son is now. My nephew is still untrained at night at 5 and his pediatrician is unworried as is my sister. It is a function of the pituitary gland - to stop urine while asleep - and so it's not necessarily a "training"; problem. If you think he is not asleep when he goes then that is different, but still completely normal. We're training my younger son now and with both him and his older brother we used washable training pants as they are less comfortable than disposable (or at least I imagine so). There are some that we got on amazon that have a pocket to insert more absorbent material into and they are waterproof enough to rarely let out enough to get the sheets wet. My son is typically dry when he wakes but then goes pee shortly after - if he balks at getting out of bed when he wakes up to use the potty his PJs will get wet, but not his bed."

 

Try not giving them anything to drink after dinner:

"For a while, we gave them nothing to drink after dinner, but not anymore (they're almost 8 and almost 4 now.)."

 and similarly,

"Based on my experience I would just say give it a go. You didn't mention if you tried it so I assume no. My son has an amazing bladder. we somewhat limit fluids after dinner and take him to pee right before bed and it has not been a problem. Good luck!"

 

...But know that might not work for all kids:

"Also, some doctors recommend withholding food and water within two hours of bedtime…personally, I don’t believe that works for all kids. It didn’t make a difference when training my daughter. Instead, she was thirsty and hungry at night and still didn’t wake up dry."

 

Let child development play its role, but limit drinks. One parent also tried a sticker chart too:

"I'm about to jump back into potty training again with my second... hopefully the second time's the charm? :) Anyway, with our first daughter, she potty trained easily and quickly for daytime. Night time took FOREVER.
An exaggeration, but I swear she was in night time pull ups until at least 3.5 if not closer to 4. We never pushed it though... I just figured when she started waking up dry, we would try undies for overnight. If memory serves, I think we went a straight week with dry morning pull ups and then took them away. An accident happened here and there but it was pretty easy once her body was already waking up dry. Oh and we really limited drinking post-dinner/pre-bed during that time. If he's waking up dry, I would just take away the pull up. And if sticker charts work for your little guy, try that. We still use them for things. :) Good luck! He'll figure it out. And it sounds like you're doing everything right so far. :)"

 

It varies from kid to kid:

"My daughter (4y3m) only recently completed nighttime potty training after being daytime trained since she was about 2y6m. Early last year, we tried the cold turkey approach, and she would stay dry maybe one or two nights in a row at most, so we switched back to diapers. Maybe if we had stuck to it, she would have been overnight trained sooner, but I didn’t really feel an urge to rush it because honestly, I didn’t want to tackle laundry that frequently. Also, I knew other friends with kids who were daytime trained long before they became overnight trained. Also, it wasn’t affecting her school day. Also, I really had no clue how to teach her to not pee in her sleep, especially when she would stay completely asleep through the bed wetting and me changing her and rolling her sleeping body around while I stripped the wet sheets off the bed from under her.

Around spring, she began asking if she could wear underwear to sleep. We agreed that if she could keep her diaper dry for 3 nights in a row, then she could switch to underwear. We would cheer whenever she had a dry diaper and remain positive and encouraging when she didn’t. She actually managed to stay dry overnight in underwear for several weeks, before suddenly, inexplicably regressing. We went back to diapers and the 3 dry nights agreement, and then this past fall, she suddenly went an entire week with no nighttime accidents, followed by another and another and has stayed dry ever since.

I honestly don’t know what the trigger was, but I’m sure it helped that she felt motivated to switch. Different approaches work for different kids, so I think it’s largely a matter of trying to understand your son’s cues. Hope that helps!"

 

Your kids will let you know when that are ready. Follow their lead:

"I think that usually, following your child's lead is a good idea. We were forced to potty train our son at 2 years, because of his daycare, and it turned out fine. But I felt it was a little too early. And things are just easier when they are ready! But in any case, we transitioned to underwear for his daycare naps right away, and there were some accidents. But we always let him wear a pullup for sleeping at night. Finally, at some point,
when he was 3 years old and about 4 months, he just told me he was ready to stop wearing pullups at night. I asked him if he was really sure, and he said he was. And we got rid of the pullups ever since. He's now 3 years and 7 months and he hasn't had a nighttime accident. But even if he does, I'd just take it in stride and let him know it was fine. My approach is to not make a big deal of potty training. I just say to him it's what big kids do when they are ready, and that was fine. I just wanted to say, you shouldn't feel pressured to get rid of the nighttime pullup until he is ready. Maybe it's a step to transition to underwear for his naps at daycare. But if he's not ready, and your daycare doesn't mind, I don't think you have to push too hard. Again, just would follow your son's lead."

 

Educate yourself with professional advice:

"For those of you going through the same thing, I found this book to be very helpful: Seven Steps to Nighttime Dryness: A Practical Guide for Parents of Children with Bedwetting” by Renee Mercer."

 

It could be hormonal (here is the WebMD explaining scientific research into causes):

"My son is just a little younger and potty trained to a similar extent. From what I understand, children don't produce the hormone needed to stay dry overnight until they are close to 4 (and some are much older). I forget what it is called, but it concentrates the urine so the need to go can usually wait until morning. So I haven't even considered taking him out of diapers overnight yet. He has been waking at regular intervals, and I suspect he is peeing then. To me, this is a sign that he is moving in the right direction (more awareness of the need to pee). I do try to get the diaper off him right away when he wakes up. We don't put diapers on him
when he naps (which sadly is increasingly rare). That might be the place to start. If he is waking up from naps dry, maybe try a no diaper nap. We started doing naked naps which helped him be aware that he should get up to pee. My friend's daughter is 3.5 and very suddenly of her own volition started getting up during the night to pee on the potty. My friend said that it pretty much came out of the blue. They will get there! Good luck."

 

Again, age times vary from kid to kid!!

"My daughter was day trained at 18 months (yay-she slept through the night at 23 months! Boo!). She wasn't night trained til she was 5. We tried waking her up to pee before we went to bed and everything else. I think it was just a matter of her bladder size. My second was day trained at about 3 and night trained a few months later."

 

You are not alone:

"FWIW, In my experience it took all of our kids so far approx a year to go from being daytime potty trained to nighttime potty trained. My two older were day trained at 2, but stopped using pullups at night right around
their third birthdays. My youngest is now almost 2.5, totally trained while awake, but has a wet diaper at naptime and bedtime. We were concerned with our first and asked our ped at her 3 year appt. She told us it just takes a certain amount of time for kids' bladders to grow and mature and when she was ready, she'd stop using it. Sure enough, a few days later she was done. So, we've just waited to drop them once the kids were consistently dry upon waking. I think with both of them it was nap first, followed by nighttime months later. It just wasn't worth the nighttime wakings and wet sheets for us to force the issue, but I have friends who have done the whole cold turkey thing and it worked after a few days or weeks as well. I’m not sure I have practical advice to offer, but hopefully, this can help address some of your concerns. First off, it is entirely normal for kids to be daytime trained without being overnight trained."

 

Chant!?:

"It sounds like you're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel! I'd try two weeks straight with pull-ups, and talk to her about why the pull-ups help her to not pee during the night. I've always slept VERY heavily (still do: virtually comatose!)... When I was a kid, I frequently wet my bed, simply because I could not manage to achieve consciousness. My mom recognized that this was pretty much the root of my problem, and helped me with  the mind-over-body aspect, as only an academic-hippie of the 60s could: by teaching me to chant: "I will not pee in my bed tonight." ten times (I counted on my fingers) before going to bed. Although I never learned to get up during the night (until I was pregnant!), my subconscious seemed to be listening, and learned to wait till morning.”

 

Another question from a 2022 thread...

 

"Does anyone have advice on overnight potty training for a heavy sleeper?

We potty trained our son around 3 years old and it went well except his pull up was always wet in the morning so we delayed the overnight training. We (almost) followed Oh Crap which suggested to wake him up at night, but at the time couldn’t bear it with a poorly sleeping baby sister in the same room.

Now more than a year later he started asking us to wear underwear to bed and we realized it was beyond time. It’s been about 4 weeks now and he wets the bed almost every night. We have him stop drinking water after dinner and use the potty before bed.

He has always been a deep sleeper and we’ve read it’s “normal” for kids to wet the bed until 5. We've also since read conflicting information on waking him up (and tried a few times but he really freaked out). I’m sure our delaying this process hasn’t helped.

Is anyone else having issues overnight or have solutions? I’m ready to put him back in the pull ups so everyone can sleep through the night but know that’s probably not the answer."

 

Advice included...

 

Try training pants:

"In case an interim solution feels useful, a friend passed on these training pants (give the feel of big kid clothing, with more absorbency than regular underwear). They still can leak a bit, but it's better than when it's regular underwear.

I like these bc they give us a sense of how ready they are to transition, give kiddo the feel of underwear, and also give a little room for the fact that it might not be a cut and dry (sorry pun) process. Our 4 yo has moved back and forth btwn disposable pull-ups and these over the past several months (with a big regression to demanding disposable pull ups when a new baby arrived in May) with some long stretches of dry in the morning and some short stints of wetting. We're honestly using the path of least resistance and just using these trainers until kiddo says they really want daytime underwear at night.

Also, my two cents: I feel like if a lil longer in pull ups gets everyone some more sleep for a while and a chance to see if trying again after a little while offers diff data, that sounds like a great answer for right now...

 

Wake at Night routine:

"Since you mentioned that you already have Oh Crap, I'll second that book. We used the wake at night routine for both of our children, albeit for FAR LONGER than is suggested in the book. I did it with both of our children and much less with our second, which is probably better, though our elder adapted at a younger age.

It worked well to do what you've mentioned, no more water after dinner and trying to push water earlier in the day so that they take in larger amounts earlier and less so closer to the end. I believe I started waking at midnight for night pee and after a couple of weeks of her adapting to being dry at midnight, shifted to 1am. Again, a few weeks later to 2am and so on until I think 3 or 3:30 or 4. I don't totally recall. At that point, we made the big push to wake-up time, which is something by this point she really wanted because she had received an awesome onesie, so it helped motivate her (her body was also now ready) to push until wake up time (6-6:30am).

With our elder we didn't budge on the underwear thing, but I think I did it for a whole year like this, which isn't great. With the younger, it was far shorter, but the first time we tried it didn't work and stopped. Eventually we had to go back to night diapers and then started again after she was older (older than when our first was fully adapted to the night). But her process, the 2nd time around, went far faster - perhaps 2-4 months in total as opposed to a full year.

I don't think I really mentioned anything new year. But solidarity with this process. It took time, but it did work."

 

Get a potty and waterproof pads:

"You may have tried this already if you were following Oh Crap, but maybe consider not having him wear underwear for nighttime sleep while he’s training - I think it’s supposed to help with the muscle memory.

You mentioned the waking him up to pee part was hard. If you weren’t already, you might consider this with a small potty next to his bed instead of going to the bathroom. We found that much less disruptive - most of the time our daughter would pee in the potty by her bed without fully waking up if we put her on it and quietly told her to pee. By several weeks out we were able to stop doing that and she made it through the night, so the initial inconvenience ultimately felt worth it since it was short lived.

I also highly recommend getting waterproof pads - they have disposable and washable ones. When we were nighttime training, we’d have three sheets on the bed with a pad in between each - that way if there’s an accident, you just take off the top wet sheet and there’s a clean one ready to go. Gets everyone back to bed much faster!"

 

Again, variation in age of night training is normal:

"I would leave it alone. Nighttime training is not the same as daytime training. Some kids may not produce enough ADH (anti diuretic hormone) to stay dry overnight. Every child is different as to when they are biologically ready to stay dry overnight. I had one kid in overnights till age 6, the other till age 3. My pediatrician assured me that there was no problem with this. Children develop differently and at different times. I wouldn’t force anything till they are ready."

"My 4.5 year old is also wearing pull-ups at night and I am not concerned. Potty training took us a while, and as long as he is good during the daytime I am not going to push on overnight. He wakes up wet most of the time. It happened on its own for daytime and I am confident he will not be peeing in pull-ups at an embarrassing age."

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