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Our Blog: August 10, 2012

Three Tips For Nighttime Potty Training

Potty training is often a complicated, unpredictable adventure. One of the most challenging steps along the way is when your kiddo is dry during the day, but not at night.

It’s very common. Genetics is one reason: Children with older-trained relatives have a higher chance of training later, and boys tend to train later than girls. And no matter how much they brag to each other in Kindergarten about being done with diapers, at least 30% of the class is still wet at night. There is always a handful of first graders in every class who can’t yet sleep in undies, either.

Nighttime training is more complicated than day training. It requires the physical maturation of the bladder, along with the development of associated nerve pathways to and from the brain, as well as the trigger to waken the child to get him up to pee. That’s why heavy sleepers often take longer to train at night. What to do? Of course, check with your pediatrician if you’re worried. Then:

  • Trust his body. He wants to be dry – really. He’s doing his best. When his body and mind can work together, it will happen.
  • Don’t worry, be mellow. There’s very little you can do to speed up nighttime training – but your frustration with your child may very well slow down the process. So give up the pressure.
  • Watch for signs of readiness. When he starts to awaken dry from his nap, or when he’s dry some mornings, ask if he’d like to try undies at night. If he resists, hang back and let him be in charge. Follow his interest and readiness.

I promise, he won’t go to college in diapers!

About the Author

Dr. Heather Wittenberg

Dr. Wittenberg is a psychologist specializing in the development of babies, toddlers, preschoolers — and parents. She offers no-hype, practical parenting advice on her blog BabyShrink — rooted in science, and road tested in her own home as the mother of four young children. She has helped thousands of parents over the years and knows that the most common problems with young children — sleep, feeding, potty training and behavior — can be the most difficult ones to solve.