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Nighttime Potty Training

You’ve done the dirty work – your little one uses the toilet most of the time now, and you’re waiting for the day when you can officially graduate to big kid underwear. So if potty training is over, why does she still have trouble overnight? Here are six tips for helping her last the night, starting with adjusting your own assumptions about nighttime potty training.
Evaluate your expectations.
You might expect that the moment your children learn how to control their bladders during the day they will also have immediate nighttime success, but that scenario is quite rare. The truth for most children is that nighttime dryness takes weeks to months to follow suit. So the first thing to do is simply relax. It’s fine to keep your little one in nighttime pull-ups until she has a successful track record of a few dry nights in a row.

Implement rewards.
If you feel like your child could use a little incentive to try to keep his pull-up dry (after two months of daytime success) then a reward chart can be a good place to start. One thing to keep in mind about rewards is that in order for them to be effective, the reward must come as immediately as possible. So, for example, if your little guy wakes up with a dry pull-up, the reward should be ready as soon as he shows you his success.

Monitor nighttime sleep hours.
Overtiredness can be the culprit for many things, including bedwetting. Have a good look at the number of nighttime hours of sleep your child is getting, and if it’s any less than 11, try adding to it. When a child is overtired the body tends to sleep more heavily, which could be interfering with the body’s messages to the brain that would encourage a wake-up to use the toilet.

Celebrate success.
Children love to please you. Even if your little lady manages to keep her pull-up dry for just one night, that accomplishment deserves a celebration! Make a big deal about her success by calling a favorite family relative or having a special celebration breakfast. Once she gets the hint that keeping the pull-up dry at night is a big deal to everyone around her, she will be more motivated to keep up the good work.

Go diaper free.
Occasionally children just take the easy way out, no matter how much coaxing and rewarding a parent does. For some children, staying dry at night is just not a priority and they won’t do it even though they can. So, if it’s been at least six months since your little one mastered daytime dryness and you’ve tried the above suggestions many times over, then you may need to test your child by going diaper free at night. Be ready to wake a few times in the first week to change sheets and PJs, and also put a plastic mattress cover on for protection. Try it for two weeks. If you see your child moving in the direction of progress with more and more dry nights, then you know you are on the right track. If, however, there is little to no success, then trust that it’s more a matter of biology than stubbornness and go back to the pull-up for a few more months.

Don’t punish your child.
It’s never wise to punish a child for nighttime accidents. One in ten school-aged children still has trouble controlling his bladder at night, so it’s more common than you might think. It’s not your little one’s fault – and it’s just a matter of age and biological maturity before success comes.
Michele Berman is a mom of three and creator of the ZAZOO KiDS Photo Clock, which helps children form a sleep routine.
Published August 2013