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When it comes to potty training I consider my children to be “potty trained” when they are able to stay dry and clean during awake time and go to the bathroom in the potty during those times. I start potty training my children when they are very young (you can see my potty training tips here!) and the ability to stay dry and clean during sleep is not something they can simply learn to do. The body has to develop enough for their bladders to hold it while sleeping. So while I focus on potty training at young ages, I do not put any focus on nap or night training until they are older.
Even though I didn’t “push” nap and night training, both of my older children were both in panties/underwear for sleep before 2.5 years old. Here are some tips I’ve used when nap and night training:
1. Use the Potty: It’s SUPER important for the child to go to the potty right before going to sleep. We would do all of our bedtime routine (brush teeth, read story, say prayers, etc) and then go potty one last time. Also make sure using the potty is the FIRST thing you do when they wake up!
2. Diapers: I continue to use diapers at naps and night for awhile when my children are first day trained. I just DO NOT make a big deal about it. I don’t say anything at all I just put the diaper on after they go potty then take it off right when they wake up and put their panties/underwear back on after going to the potty.
3. Check for Dryness: Once I start noticing that the diapers are dry when they wake up, I know it’s time to start nap/night training!
4. Wear Panties/Underwear to Bed: Build this up BIG TIME! Discuss how important it is to keep the panties/underwear dry and clean! Once we are at this stage I put a pull-up on over the panties/underwear. That way they can still feel the wetness, but it prevents the sheets from getting soiled when/if accidents occur. I actually skipped this step with Kye. He asked to wear underwear to bed and said he wouldn’t have any accidents so we just let him and he did great! With Britt, we took the pull-up approach for a few months as she was not as consistent and she also never woke up realizing she was wet. Once our kids consistently stay dry we simply stop using the pull-ups. I actually have never finished ONE box of them. I’ve used the same box for both of our kids and still have plenty left over for the next one!
5. Reward and Praise: Immediately when the child wakes up from sleep I check for dryness then praise like CRAZY and give them treats for staying dry (I give 1 fruit snack). I use the term “big boy/girl” a TON while potty training!
6. Don’t Punish for Wetness: Again, this is not a skill they can fully LEARN. A lot of the ability to stay dry during sleep is development based. So if/when they have accidents…don’t punish for it. I do talk to them about it and remind them that we have to stay dry and clean but otherwise I don’t make a big fuss about it.
A big question I get asked is how do I handle them needing to go potty in the night? I’ve heard of people putting a potty seat in the bedroom and I’ve heard of people allowing their child out of the bed to go to the potty. We have a strict rule in our house that the kids are not allowed to get out of bed. I don’t think it’s wrong to allow the child to get out of the bed to use the potty…however I think it’s setting up a situation where suddenly they will “need to go potty” a bunch of times each night as an excuse to get out of bed.
We have rarely had any instances where our children truly need to use the bathroom in the night, but if it happens we have them call out to us and then we take them potty. Britt has been nap/night trained for over 6 months now and has never once called out to us. Kye is 5 and sleeps upstairs so we did allow him to get up to use the potty if needed. However, we quickly found out that he did the typical “I have to go potty” excuse as a way to leave his room. We quickly nipped that and explained to him that if his little sister can stay dry and clean all night without going potty than so can he. He’s now allowed to use the potty once after we tuck him in and that’s it!
Night and nap potty training can take awhile and can be frustrating as a parent. Changing wet sheets and wet pjs is not a fun experience. But give it time, patience, and use these tips and soon your child will be staying dry and clean!