Helping your child towards dry nights

You should only ever look towards helping your child to become dry at night when they are reliably out of nappies during the day. As a rule, most children are daytime toilet trained by the time they are 3 years but many are much older. Often there is a considerable period between them being dry during the day time and achieving dry nights.

It is not at all unusual for a four or five year old to still be in night time nappies and even then, many continue to have wet beds throughout childhood. Girls tend to be dry at night sooner than boys.

If your child has a saturated nappy in the morning [and is no longer taking a night bottle] this is a sign that they are not yet producing enough of a special hormone called vasopressin. This hormone inhibits urine production at night and until its action kicks in your child is not yet ready for night time training.

You can help them to develop healthy bladder control by offering plenty of fluids during the day and dropping feeds or big drinks during the night.

Once they are confident with using the potty or toilet during the day and have dry or nearly dry nappies fairly consistently in the morning, you can take this as a signal that it is time to start night time toilet training.

Helping your child to become dry at night is more effective if you keep the whole process as relaxed as possible. Suggest that they might like to have a go at sleeping without a nappy. Make sure that you have a waterproof mattress cover on their bed. Encourage them to use the toilet before they go to sleep but do not over pressurise them.

Many parents lift their children later in the evening, when they are still semi asleep and allow them to use the toilet. It is fine to try this but only if your child does not find it upsetting.

If your child wets the bed, remain calm and quickly change the sheets. Let them know it’s okay and you’re not cross. If your child manages a dry night, praise them gently – don’t overdo it, or they might feel they’ve let you down if they have an accident the next time. Do not use a reward chart, as night time dryness or wetness for that matter is not usually something that is within their control.

As with so many milestones, helping your child to become dry at night is more effective if you follow their lead.

Tips for night time toilet training [once your child is dry during the day:]

  1. Encourage your child to drink sufficient during the day [6-8 glasses] – but not fizzy or caffeine rich drinks. Restricting day time fluids may cause the bladder to be less efficient.
  2. If you are still giving a bedtime bottle, now is the time to drop it. If your child is well hydrated during the day, a big drink at bedtime or during the night is not necessary.
  3. Do not allow your child to get constipated, as this can affect bladder function.
  4. Use waterproof easily changeable protection on the bed to minimise night time disruption.
  5. Use the toilet just before bedtime.
  6. Leave a soft light on and if the toilet is not easily accessible, have a potty close by.
  7. If your child has an accident, praise them for telling you and still take them to the toilet to see if they can do a bit more.
  8. Praise your child warmly when they manage a dry bed but don’t expect this to be every night at first.
  9. Expect just the occasional dry night at the first few attempts.
  10. If your child doesn’t manage a dry bed after 3 – 4 weeks of trying, you should give up and try again a few weeks later.

Copyright Andrea Grace