Potty Training

Ditching the night time diapers isn't as hard as it sounds.
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Is Your Kid Ready To Ditch The Nighttime Diaper? Look For These Signs

Ready Or Not, Here You Go! Nighttime Diapers May Be Gone For Good.

There are many exciting and wonderful milestones your child goes through, but in my opinion, being potty trained is one of the most exciting (and freeing) of all. Things get a lot less expensive, and you don’t have to wrestle them anymore to change their diapers when they’re suddenly as strong as a grown adult, slippery as an eel — and as stubborn as a mule. As such, my family’s currently looking for signs our kid is ready to get rid of the nighttime diaper. We potty trained him for daytime a few months ago, and now I think we might be ready for the final leap. The grand prize, the holy grail: night time potty training.

Is your family ready to take the leap? Sometimes I think the parents are more worried about it and unprepared than the child, because let’s face it, anytime something affects our kids’ sleep, we are going to be a little wary to rock the boat, am I right? But knowing the expert-approved reasons that your kid seems ready may help ease your stress a little bit, which in turn will ease any stress your child may feel, too.

An important thing to note? “Children's bladders actually double in size between the ages of 2 and 4, which means that while your toddler may be fully daytime trained and able to control their bladder for a few hours at a time, the 10 to 12-hour overnight stretch may not be physically possible for a few more months, as they simply do not have the bladder capacity to ‘hold it’ that long,” says potty training and pediatric sleep consultant Mary Vaughan. “Most commonly, children reach this milestone without any intervention between 6 and 12 months after daytime potty training is finished.”

So if you think your child’s ready, here are some signs to ditch the night time diaper.


They Wake Up Dry

Whether from their nap, or in the morning after a long night of rest, if your child is waking up dry, they’re ready to ditch the diaper. On the plus side with this, though, you don’t really have to do anything. “Some children do not need to be night time potty trained, it happens automatically,” pediatrician Daniel Ganjian says.

A Today’s Parent article noted that if your child is waking up dry for about a week or so, “try, go for it.”

A post from Jen L’Italien, a “potty consultant” and blogger at her Oh Crap! Potty Training from me to you website, noted that if your kid is waking up dry, this is the “magic window.” She wrote, “When you see a string of dry diapers, that's when it's the best time to drop the night diapers for your toddler.”


Daytime Potty Training Has Been Successful

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If your child is able to hold their urine for 2 hours at a time, they may be ready to take a stab at nighttime potty training, L’Italien noted on her website.

But Ganjian warns, “It is easier to teach a skill while awake, than while sleeping.”


They Tell You When They Have To Go Potty At Night & They Don’t Want To Wear A Diaper

This is kind of a no-brainer. Kids know their bodies best. Ganjian says if your child is telling you that they need to pee at night or that they don’t want to wear a diaper, then it’s time to start. Plus, the fact they’re waking up in the night to tell you they have to go indicates that their body is recognizing and not sleeping through the sensation.


Tips For Potty Training

So your kid is showing one or all of the signs above. Now what? How do you go about potty training them after getting rid of the nighttime diaper?

Ganjian suggests putting a waterproof mattress cover on the bed (having a big kid bed is great for this, as they can get in and out of the bed themselves to potty). “Use diaper changing pads to allow for a quick clean-up and return to bed. They can be used to either soak the urine as the child urinates, or cover up a wet bed so your child can go back to sleep without you having to change the sheets in the middle of the night.”

Jamie Glowacki suggests in her book Oh, Crap! Potty Training to use fleece on top for your child to sleep on as well, since it dries quickly.

Ganjian also suggests not giving your child any caffeinated products during the day (including chocolate), and having your child “double the void” by asking them to urinate before the bedtime routine and at the end of the bedtime routine. You should also provide a nightlight for them to be able to see to get to the bathroom if they wake up needing to go. “And for an older child, consider using a bedwetting alarm.”

Pediatrician Gina Posner tells Romper that parents can also try stopping all liquids by 6 p.m., and making sure their kids are not constipated. “Constipation causes children to not be able to get all of the urine out when they go before bed, and then having accidents,” she says. Vaughan recommends offering your child their last full serving of liquid by 6 p.m.

“Using the bathroom should be one of the last steps in your toddler's bedtime routine. Encourage your child to ‘double void,’ which means that they will empty their bladder once, and then wait 20 to 30 seconds before trying again,” Vaughan says. “Leaning forward while seated, rocking side to side, and listening to running water may help your child completely void.”


Dr. Daniel Ganjian, pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

Mary Vaughan, pediatric sleep consultant and potty training consultant, founder of Mother Together.

Dr. Gina Posner, Gina Posner, pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.