Potty training is liberating, and not just for the kids. Eliminating the cost of diapers and the responsibility of changing them makes potty training just as joyous for parents as their children. Here are five things to know about nighttime potty training:
Nighttime Potty Training is Different From Daytime Potty Training
Children develop at different rates, but most children are ready for daytime potty training at 18 months to three years old. For most children, however, nighttime potty training is different. Simply put, kids who are fully potty trained during the day may still be unable to stay dry at night because holding their bladder for ten to twelve hours while sleeping and waking when feeling the urge to go potty are completely different skills than those needed for daytime potty training. As a result, nighttime potty training usually comes after daytime potty training. There is nothing wrong with using crib sheets that are waterproof even after the child no longer has accidents during the day.
Nighttime Potty Training Takes Time
Because the skills for daytime potty training and nighttime potty training are different, 15% of five-year-old children wet the bed and it is not unusual for children as old as seven years old to still wet the bed. Since the process of nighttime potty training can take years, it is not unusual to transition from crib sheets that are waterproof to waterproof bedsheets when the child moves from the crib to a bed.
Establish a Routine
With those facts in mind, and acknowledging that every child is different, one suggestion for nighttime potty training is to establish a routine. Going potty right before bed and right after waking up tends to help. This helps the child with the physical part of nighttime potty training by giving him or her a less full bladder to deal with during the night and also creates a behavioral routine. Achieving success physically will encourage the child psychologically.
For the same reason, establishing a routine that limits fluids around bedtime can also help the child with nighttime potty training. Again, when the bladder is less full, it will be easier for the child to achieve a night free of accidents. Accidents will still happen, but using diapers or training pants, as well as crib sheets that are waterproof, will keep the bed clean while the child is developing the necessary nighttime potty training skills.
Use Naptime As Practice
The urge to use the potty while sleeping is the same during naps as during nighttime. But naptime potty training tends to be easier than nighttime potty training. Naptime, being shorter, gives the child a chance to deal with a less full bladder and a greater chance to succeed accident-free. Also, since naptime is during the day, the adult watching over the child can wake him or her up if the child has problems making it through naptime without accidents. Diapers, training pants, and crib sheets that are waterproof can help with clean up when accidents happen.
The same bedtime routine can be used around naptime by limiting fluids before naptime and helping the child use the potty right before and right after the nap. This will acclimate the child to the nighttime potty training routine. Consistency avoids confusion and helps the child learn.
Frustration on the part of both parent and child can be avoided. One way to minimize the stress of potty training is to use crib sheets that are waterproof for toddlers and waterproof bed sheets for children as they grow. Easier clean up will lead to less frustration and allow for more patience. Potty training is a bit of a misnomer since a great deal of the process is having the patience to allow the child to take the lead in developing good potty habits rather than formal "training."
Nighttime potty training takes time but it is possible. Following a routine, being patient, and a little help from crib sheets that are waterproof can make the process easier.