Toilet training at night – what’s the plan?

Toilet training at night? That’s an easy one. You just whip your toddler’s nappy off, tell them that they need to get up if they feel the need to pee, and then go to sleep safe in the knowledge that absolutely none of your sheets, pillows, duvets or mattresses are going to get ruined in the next 6-10 hours. In case you can’t tell, I am being sarcastic. And here’s why…

…Toilet training at night is daytime toilet training’s bigger, harder sibling. It’s such a hard nut to crack that one in 50 teenagers, one in 20 10-year-olds and one in five five-year-olds still pee pees in their bed. So why on earth would any parent attempt to train a kid as young as three?

Signs of readiness

It’s a fantastic question. Personally, I’m doing it for two reasons. First, at the end of last week my son decided that he was a big boy and was no longer going to wear nappies or pull-ups at night. Second, I checked the ‘signs of readiness’ tick list on this informative article produced by Children’s Bowel and Bladder Charity ERIC and remembered that my son had been waking up with dry nappies over the past 10 days.

So, what happened next? Next, my wife and I had an enormously broken sleep as our son dispersed urine over his bed, teddies and random parts of the wall twice on the first night. Still, at least he was in a good mood when he woke up wet. Note: I’m being sarcastic again. He was raging.

At this point, my wife and I wanted to quit. Unfortunately, my son was not on the same page. He maintained his “no, no, I won’t go… … and put my pull-ups on” stance, and this left us with two options. We could resign ourselves to washing two sets of sheets per day for the next decade, or we could pull our parenting fingers out and come up with a toilet training at night plan.

Thankfully for this article, we chose the second option and began implementing the following strategy.

Get our son onboard with our idea

My son might only be three, but he knows what he likes. These things include: Blaze and the Monster Machines, having his toast cut into triangles, climbing on people’s head and being kept informed of any change to his routine. And given this plan involved some significant alterations to his bedtime schedule, we knew that the first step to success was going to be sitting him down and getting him onboard with our idea.

Protect the mattress

There are lots of ways to do this, from rubber sheets to towels via disposable pads. Largely because we got a nice deal on Amazon, my wife and I chose to go with Huggies DryNites Disposable Bed Mats* and are pleasantly surprised by how good a job they’ve done.

Bring his milk forward

Up until now, my son’s bedtime routine has been: pee pee and poo poo, shower, pyjamas and nappy, pick two books, read the books with mummy and daddy while drinking a beaker of milk, bed. Hands up if you can spot the bit that might have a negative impact on toilet training at night. You’re right, it is the section where we fill his bladder full of milk.

Thus, in the post-nappy world, we have brought his milk beaker forward to dinner time (note: ERIC suggests you stop giving your kid liquids an hour before they go to bed) and tweaked the bedtime routine so it now goes: pee pee and poo poo, shower, pyjamas, pick two books, read the books with mummy and daddy, brush teeth, pee pee, bed.

Let there be lights

Do adults find getting out of bed, navigating a dark corridor, walking into a dark bathroom, locating the toilet seat, lifting it and peeing into the bowl easy? No, we don’t. Now imagine what it’s like for a toddler. The answer is scary and difficult, so my wife and I figured that it was only fair to give our son a bit of help. How? Simple. We have bought a brighter night light for his room, a new night light for the hall, and this cool light for the toilet bowl*.

Use positive language

When we toilet trained our son during the day, we used Lora Jensen’s superb 3-Day Potty Training method. It’s a fantastic programme that places a major emphasis on staying positive and continuing to praise your child even in the most trying of circumstances. Like attempting to change wet bedsheets at 2.30am, while holding a screaming toddler and being kicked really hard in the groin, stomach and ribs? Yes, just like that, and, yes, this is a true story. Be in no doubt, your patience is going to be severely tested during toilet training at night, and when it is you can take the easy option and scold your child, or you can take the tough option and find a way of praising them. Word to the wise. The quicker you do the latter, the quicker the process is going to be over.

Give it at least a week

If you’re looking for miracles, you’re going through the wrong process. Although I’m certain some peeing prodigy has mastered the art of toilet training at night in under three hours, ERIC believes the rest of us need to give it at least a week before throwing in the towel and having the chat about “going back to pull-ups”. Note: if you do throw in the towel, don’t despair. You’re not a failure. This is a hard process. Just take a little break and then try again in a few weeks.

Got all that? Great, then if you think your kid’s ready, buy your supplies and give toilet training at night a go. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? Actually, maybe it’s best you don’t think about that.

Until next time…

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  1. I love this article! It perfectly describes what we are going through with our four year old, who also won’t accept wearing pull-ups at night anymore. Doh! We have been waking him at 10pm when we go to bed and taking him for a wee, not sure if this is the right thing to do but we’ve had 8 dry nights this way *shoulder shrug*. Also, we bought a really cheap shower curtain to put under his sheet so if he does have an accident we can just wash his sheet and wipe the shower curtain clean 🙂 thanks for writing this.

    • 8 dry nights in a row, that’s amazing :-). And I like the idea of using a cheap shower curtain – very inventive. Glad you enjoyed the article.

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