Sleeping toddler

Sometimes it can feel like night-time potty training is never ending. Read on for our top tips to help your little one on their way to dry nights.

For most children potty training at night will take a little longer to learn than during the day. For some children it takes months and for others it can take years longer.

The important thing to remember is to stay positive – you have already made it through daytime potty training and this phase won’t last forever. With a few top tips and some preparation, it won’t be too long before your little one is potty trained at night too.

Here are our top tips for successful potty training at night:

1. Take your time

Every child develops differently. It’s good to focus on helping your little one be reliably dry during the daytime first. Once your child has mastered daytime potty training they can then work towards dry nights (NHS Choices, 2015).

Most children will take a while longer to learn how to stay dry at night. It’s helpful to wait until your child shows signs that they are ready for night-time potty training (NHS Choices, 2015).

2. Be prepared

There is nothing worse than scrambling around looking for things in the middle of the night. So with night-time potty training try to be as prepared as you can (NHS Choices, 2015).

Make sure you have a spare set of pyjamas and sheets nearby. You can also buy waterproof mattress protectors for underneath your child’s bedsheet if you like (NHS Choices, 2015). Help them by placing a potty near to where your little one is sleeping in case they need to use it quickly in the night.

3. Bedtime routine

Always ask your child to use the potty or toilet last thing before bed. You can incorporate it easily into your child’s bedtime routine at the same time you visit the bathroom to brush their teeth.

When you ditch the nappies or night-time pull-ups you can say to your toddler how grown up they are for not wearing them. Tell them how exciting it is. Explain that they will need to use the potty or toilet in the night and ask for help if they need it.

4. Accidents will happen

Just like with daytime potty training your little one will have some accidents at night (NHS Choices, 2015). Make sure you prepare for them by having everything you need to hand.

Remember to keep calm in the middle of the night. It’s important to be understanding and reassure your little one that these things happen if they have an accident.

Having spare clothes and sheets handy will help make the situation easier to manage in the middle of the night. You’ll feel less stressed and they’ll feel reassured.

5. Be positive

Toddlers love to be praised, so if your little one is doing well with night-time potty training tell them how proud you are (ERIC, 2010).  If you are finding night-time potty training hard, think positive. Your child has already mastered daytime potty training and will achieve dry nights when they are ready for it.

If your little one is having lots of night time accidents, don’t worry. You might simply need to hold off on potty training at night and try again in a few weeks’ time (ERIC, 2010).

What happens next…

Staying dry at night is a big developmental phase for your little one, which they will need to be physically ready for. They must also want to do it.

It might take a bit of time to get there but most children will be dry at night between the ages of three and five. Try not to worry too much, among children aged five, up to one in five wet the bed sometimes (NHS Choices, 2015).

This page was last reviewed in June 2018

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

You might find attending one of our Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

NHS Choices has more information on potty training.

ERIC. (2010) Potty training. Education and resources for improving childhood continence. Available from: www.eric.org.uk [Accessed 1st June 2018]

NHS Choices. (2015) How To Potty Train. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/potty-training-tips/  [Accessed 1st June 2018]

Further reading

American Academy of Pediatrics. (1999) Toilet training guidelines: Parents – the role of the parents in toilet training. Pediatrics. 103(6 Pt 2):1362-1363. Available from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/103/Supplement_3/1362.full.pdf [Accessed 1st June 2018]

Brazleton T, Christopherson E, Frauman A, Gorski P, Poole J, Stadtler A, Wright C. (1999) Instruction, timeliness and medical influences affecting toilet training. Paediatrics. 103:1353-1358. Available from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/103/Supplement_3/1353 [Accessed 1st June 2018]

Buckley S. (2002) Mothering, mindfulness and a baby’s bottom. An introduction to elimination communication. Mother. Issue 3. Available from: https://sarahbuckley.com/mothering-mindfulness-and-a-babys-bottom-an-introduction-to-elimination-communication/ [Accessed 1st June 2018]

Hatch, A. (2017) What is baby-led potty training? Available from: http://amberhatch.com/what-is-baby-led-potty-training/ [Accessed 1st June 2018]

Institute of Health Visiting. (2014) IHV Parent tips. Available from: https://ihv.org.uk/for-health-visitors/resources-for-members/resource/ihv-tips-for-parents/health-wellbeing-and-development-of-the-child/toilet-training/ [Accessed 1st June 2018]

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