Nighttime Potty Training: 7 Tips &Suggestions

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Potty training is the joy of parenthood that every parent lives for, right?!? 

Wrong! Dead WRONG!

Potty training is not an easy process at all and nighttime potty training is even more dreaded. I figured our potty training story would be a breeze since Blake started (on his own) at 18 months. But, boy was I wrong! 

Our potty training journey (post coming soon) has been one full of ups and downs, twists and turns and lots of surprises. It is one that I do not regret in the slightest though and am happy to say is behind us now.

Choosing To Nighttime Potty Train

Blake started his potty training journey at 18 months and by 2 was only using pull-ups at night. I honestly thought we wouldn’t tackle the bedtime potty training until he was at least 3 or so. 

But, in true independent Blake fashion he decided to make things interesting. He started requesting, nightly, to wear his undies and get rid of the pull-up. Every night I would say no you need to keep your pull-up dry before we do that. I thought that having a dry pull-up was the only indicator that a toddler is ready for bedtime potty training.

After almost a week of him physically crying and asking to stop wearing pull-ups we decided to give it a go. After all, what did we have to lose? 

If it worked then he would be potty trained completely before 3 and we wouldn’t have to keep buying pull-ups. 

If it didn’t work then all we had lost was some extra laundry from him wetting the bed.

I knew that once Blake had his mind set on something that usually means he will succeed. He has proven that time and time again. So, I did my research for tips and suggestions and decided to fully commit for at least 1 week.

Related: Transition From Crib To Toddler Bed: Everything To Know

When doing my research I was able to find a lot of wonderful tips and suggestions but there was one tiny problem. It was all for kids who were much older than little 2.5 year old Blake. I wasn’t sure if maturity wise he was ready for this transition. But, I was committed to giving it a week and letting him try and prove my doubts wrong.

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Research for Tips & Suggestions for Potty Training Success

While doing my research I found and was told many wonderful tips and suggestions to help us finish our potty training journey. I googled “bedtime potty training” and read all that I could find. I referred back to the potty training book that I had used early on in our journey. And, I asked veteran parents for all of their tips.

Here is what most frequently was suggested:

  • Limit liquids before bed
  • Practice going to the potty 
  • Use a pee pad under sheets
  • Have a nightlight near the potty
  • Do a dream potty session
  • Make them use the potty right before bed
  • Use a sticker chart as an incentive reward
  • Push through 
  • Don’t feel bad if you have to go back to pull-ups
  • Limit staying overnight away from home for the first couple of weeks.

Some of the tips and suggestions worked wonderfully while others were a complete flop. If I have learned anything from parenting, its that you choose what works best for you and your family. But, I am here to share what worked for us and what didn’t in hopes to help you potty train your toddler. 

And to let you know…it can be done before the age of three!

Knowing When To Nighttime Potty Train

Knowing when your child is ready for any transition is always a struggle and an elusive task. Blake has given subtle hints for several of his transitions and then others we just had to decide if we thought it was time.

I had planned on attempting to nighttime potty train Blake at some point after he turned 3. Our pediatrician said there was no rush for him to master it and that most kids are around 4 before they are fully potty trained.

I honestly wasn’t worried too much about it and really didn’t plan on starting anything. But, Blake had other plans (as usual). He initiated the whole venture and thus ended his potty training journey.

Now, I know most kids will not tell you they are ready for such a big transition. Most kids will more than likely begin to show signs they are ready.

Here are the common signs to look for in your toddler in order to start nigh time potty training.

  • Has a dry pull-up for the most part when they wake up
  • Knows how to use the potty independently
  • Has a good grasp on going to the potty and telling you when they need to
  • Can get out of bed or call for you if they need to potty
  • Your child tells you they want to try it

For us, Blake simply kept begging to wear undies and not pull-ups at bedtime and that was enough incentive to give it a go.

Tips for Nighttime Potty Training Success

Night time potty training is very different from daytime potty training in that…your child is asleep! It is extremely hard to train somebody to do something when they are asleep! We discovered some tried and tested tips that made our nighttime potty training a success.

1. Bed Sheet Hack

Once we decided to tackle nighttime potty training I decided to make my life easier through the process. I knew I would probably be cleaning up a lot of pee accidents in the coming weeks. It is inevitable that there will be bed wetting…just go ahead and accept that.

Thankfully our mattress on Blake’s bed is already water proof! I didn’t want to be woken in the middle of the night and have to change wet bed sheets though. So, I went and bought 2 extra pairs of sheets and a mattress cover. This gave us a total of 4 bed sheets and one protective liner.

What I did was make the bed in layers of sheets, liner then sheets again. This way if/when Blake peed in the bed in the middle of the night I wouldn’t have to put new sheets on. With this method all I had to do was go in, take off the top sheet/liner and there was the new sheets underneath.

Talk about lifesaver! Who wants to make a bed in the middle of the night half awake? Not me!! Trust me when I say, “Make this hack your number one priority before starting.” Also, a good tip is to buy some cheaper bed sheets that you won’t mind getting peed on continually.

2. Limit Liquids Before Bed

Another essential tip to our night time potty training success was limiting liquids before bed. This has been the deal breaker of whether or not he will wet the bed or stay dry. 

We started out the first week cutting off any and all liquids an hour before bed. This didn’t work consistently and that first week Blake had multiple accidents.

via GIPHY

The second week we decided to try cutting off liquids 2 hours before bed and it worked like a charm. Instantly, he started staying dry every single night!

Now, this isn’t always feasible to follow but it is our general rule. There have been several nights where we get home late from church or shopping and he eats supper late. On those nights we give him a small cup of milk since it seems to not run through him as quickly. We just expect on those nights that there is a good chance he will wet the bed.

This one was a tough one to commit to but it proved so effective that we are pretty firm on this rule when we can be. He is simply told no he can’t have water before bed because it makes him pee in bed. There have been some tears but that is to be expected when implementing new rules.

3. Reward Them For Staying Dry

Blake has never been huge on sticker/reward charts but he is like any kid and does enjoy gifts. I went and found some Paw Patrol bedsheets that I knew he would love and used those as an incentive to stay dry.

I showed him the sheets and he was super excited but then I explained that he couldn’t use them until he stopped peeing in the bed. We told him that these were special sheets and he didn’t want to mess them up by peeing on them. So, we discussed how once he stayed dry that he would get the sheets put on his bed for the next night.

It took several days of him asking for the sheets and me saying no because he was still peeing in bed at night. After a few days he stayed dry for the first time all night and I celebrated it in the morning with lots of praise. Then I pulled out those special sheets and told him he earned them by staying dry. 

This reward really helped give him a goal to aim for and a reason to do it. It made it a fun challenge for him and the prize was one that was highly coveted.

When he stayed dry every night the second week in we decided to reward him big time! He loves frozen yogurt but doesn’t get it often because his sugar intake is limited. So, we celebrated him staying dry for a whole week by taking him to Sweet Frog and making a big ordeal about it.

4. Have a Potty Close By

We bought Blake a little training potty when he first started to learn to use the bathroom. He was never a huge fan of his little potty and preferred to use the “big people” potty. However, we didn’t like the idea of him having free reign to the bathroom at night unsupervised. 

So, we started by setting his potty up beside his bed during naptime to teach him to use it while in his room sleeping. He took to it immediately and started growing to like it more and more. When it came time for nighttime potty training he was already used to his little potty sitting near his bed.

It is important for your child to be able to easily access the potty whether it is a big bathroom or a little potty by their bed. They need to know where they are expected to go potty in the middle of the night. We knew there would be accidents so we set a towel under his potty to make cleanup easy the next morning.

5. Making Them Pee Before Bed Multiple Times

We discovered that making Blake go to the bathroom multiple times within an hour before bed helped him stay dry. 

We encourage him to pee right after supper, right before getting in the bath and then again before getting in bed. 

Bath time is part of our nightly bedtime routine and it makes for a perfect opportunity to encourage to sit on the potty and pee. Often times he refuses to pee in the potty and will pea in the tub. 

Before putting him in bed we make him sit on the potty beside his bed and pee. We have him sit on the potty even if he tells us he doesn’t need to pee. This is now part of our bedtime routine and it is to ensure he completely empties his bladder before bed. 

6. Making It Fun

Something I have learned along my few short years of parenting is don’t make transitions and training so serious. Kids love having fun and one of the best ways to teach them is through fun and games. So, we turned nighttime potty training into a game.

I set up his potty right beside his bed for easy access. Then I told him were would play a fun potty game to practice how to go potty at night.

I made him get in bed, jump out of bed, pull down his pants then sit on the potty. Then I would have him stand up, pull up his pants and get back in bed. We kept doing this over and over to give him practice so that he would be able to go potty independently at night. We did it fast and slow to make it funny. It was almost like a potty time Simon says.

He loved playing the game and was getting extra practice without even knowing it.

7. Use a Baby Monitor for Nighttime Potty Training

We knew it would take some time for Blake to learn to stay dry at night. We also knew that there was a good chance that if he woke up, groggy that he would need help at first. Every night we made sure to turn on our baby monitor for the first week or so.

We explained to Blake that if he needed us to help him go potty then all he had to do was talk to the “speaker” (monitor). We told him just to say, “Momma/Daddy help me potty.” The instructions and phrase were kept simple for him so he could easily follow along.

He only called for us a few times the first week but it was usually first thing in the morning when he woke up. Now we don’t even use the baby monitor because he goes on his own. We made it a point that anytime we went to help him that we were guiding him but not doing it for him. 

What Didn’t Work For NightTime Potty Training

There are always lots of amazing tips and advice that you get when trying to teach your child something new. My advice…take it all at face value. Trial and error will reveal what works for your child and what doesn’t. 

We tried using a sticker reward chart where Blake would get a certain “big prize” after getting so many stickers for staying dry. While Blake loves rewards, he did not seem to be into the sticker reward chart at all. He preferred simply getting praise over stickers.

We also tried the midnight potty break but that did not work at all! The concept behind this is very similar to a dreemfeed when nursing a baby. You go in a lift your child onto the potty. You rouse them just enough that you tell them to pee but you don’t fully wake them.

via GIPHY

We did this with Blake a few times and he would pee and fall right back to sleep. That aspect was wonderful but it didn’t help him stay dry at all. In fact he peed even more on those nights than normal.

Nighttime Waking Concerns

If you are anything like me then you LOVE your sleep. I love it so much that I made sure my babies were sleep trained early and sleep has been a vital part of any transition.

I was nervous about Blake waking up wet and not being able to go back to sleep or waking Raelynn up (since they share a room). What ended up happening was quite the opposite.

He would pee in his sleep and keep on sleeping the first week or so. It was almost as if it didn’t phase him at all. He could wake up soaked (like shirt and all) and he would have slept the whole night through.

So, I had the tough decision of, 

“If he doesn’t start staying dry do I go back to pull-ups? Do I just keep him in underwear and let him keep peeing until it starts to phase him? I mean he obviously doesn’t seem to mind…he keeps on sleeping.”

What we ended up deciding is to not look back and push forward. As nasty as it sounds we figured letting him sleep in his pee until he figured it out would bring faster results than using pull-ups. And he really hated wearing pull-ups.

I’m so glad we stuck with it after that first week because that second week was when it all clicked. Now, this is something you will have to decide for yourself. Do you care if your kid wets the bed and causes more laundry or do you not mind to go back to pull-ups.

Nighttime Potty Training and Traveling

About 2 weeks after we started our nighttime potty training journey we ended up going out of town for a family trip. Anytime we travel long distances we typically put Blake in a pull-up so that if he falls asleep in the car he won’t soak his car seat.

But, nighttime potty training brought a whole new aspect to travel. 

Should we use pull-ups to avoid the potential regression from not being at home?

Would using pull-ups mess up all our hard work?

Do we just use them over his underwear so he still thinks he’s wearing underwear?

So many questions about what to do. Bottom line answer is you know how your kid will respond best. For Blake we decided to try the first night with just undies and if it backfired then we would use pull-ups. Blake is a very fast learner and isn’t easily fooled with tricks like putting a pull-up over his undies.

Blake amazed us again and did so well. He told us to pull over anytime he had to pee and stayed dry during the whole travel time. At night he did pretty good too. There was  one night where we got home really late and he had drank a ton right before bed. So that night we just explained he needed to wear a pull-up since he had lots to drink. (He did end up soaking that pull-up).

End Results to Nighttime Potty Training

I would say that Blake is essentially fully potty trained. He has a few accidents here and there still but that is to be expected (especially if he has had liquids right before bed). It only took him about 2 weeks of off and on wetting the bed to figure it all out.

We have been amazed once again by how quickly he transitioned and that he is completely potty trained before 3!

The biggest thing that was effective for us was just sticking with it and practicing consistency, rewarding him and making a huge deal when he did stay dry. Honestly, until we implemented the don’t drink 2 hours before bed it didn’t really click for him.

He doesn’t wake up during the night to pee usually which means, he basically has learned to hold it until morning. Blake now independently goes to the potty and very rarely needs our help with anything. 

Have you started your potty training journey yet? What tips do you have for potty training succes? Let me know in the comments below (especially if you have potty trained a little girl because that’s next for us).

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