Night Time Potty Training: When Should My Child Be Dry At Night?

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You’ve nailed potty training during the day and you’re wondering when they’ll be dry at night? Or, if you’re getting ready to start potty training, in which case we’ve got the perfect guide for you here.

Lots of parents really worry about their child still wearing nappies or diapers overnight.  Particularly if they’ve been potty trained for a while. It can be an emotive topic and there can be a lot of anxiety about when night time dryness will happen.

Becoming dry overnight can feel like a significant milestone, and you can feel a lot of pressure to ‘make it happen’, but we’re here to ease that worry! 

Some children are dry at night shortly after they are potty trained, but for others it can take a lot longer.

Let’s start by talking about hormones and development which affect night time dryness, and then we cover ways you can support your child in being dry at night.

Ready To Start Potty Training?

Potty Training made simple with our step-by-step guide.

Ready To Start Potty Training?

Potty Training made simple with our step-by-step guide.

The Role of Hormones

A crucial factor in overnight dryness is the development of a hormone called antidiuretic hormone (ADH), also known as vasopressin.

ADH is tells the kidneys to release less water, reducing the amount of urine produced. This plays a key role in keeping children dry overnight.

Your child needs to produce enough ADH before they can be consistently dry at night, which can happen at different times.

Developmental Stages

It is completely normal for under 5’s to be wet at night, according to the NHS, as their bladder is still maturing up to this age.

Most people wake up when their bladder signals to them that they need to go to the toilet. Some young children sleep deeply and these signals don’t wake them.

For others, the nerves needed to send this signal to the brain aren’t developed enough yet to send a signal strong enough to wake them.

What Can You Do to Help Your Child Be Dry at Night?

While your child is becoming physically ready to be dry at night, there are lots of ways you can support them:

Encourage them to use the toilet before bed to empty their bladder. Make it a part of your regular bedtime routine and praise them every time they try.

Give them enough to drink during the day, but reduce the amount they drink in the build-up to bedtime.

Avoid food and drink which contain caffeine (including chocolate and soft drinks), particularly in the afternoon and evening. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, which means it it stimulates the bladder to produce more urine. 

Use nappies or pull-up pants at night to protect from night time accidents, so they don’t feel embarrassed and sleep isn’t unnecessarily disturbed.

Praise and encourage them whenever they have a dry night. And be patient and understanding if they don’t manage it. They are not doing it on purpose.

Know that you are not alone, and so many people are going through the same thing as you.

night time potty training, how you can help your child be dry at night

Signs Your Child is Ready to Stop Wearing Nappies at Night?

These are some of the signs that your child might be ready to stop wearing pull-ups or a nappy at night.

  • You’ve had a few mornings in a row where your little one has woken up with a dry, or only slightly damp, nappy/pull-up.
  • They wake in the night to use the toilet or potty on their own, or ask you for help.
  • They are really resistant to wearing a nappy, diaper or pull-up at night or start taking it off during the night.

It is a good idea to use a waterproof sheet or bed mats in case there are any night time accidents after you stop using nappies. 

And keep up the habits of going to the toilet as part of the day time routine and reducing how much they drink in the build up to bedtime to give them the best change of being accident free at night.

When to Seek Help

If your child is struggling with overnight dryness beyond the age of around 5 years , it may be worth consulting your GP or paediatrician. They can assess whether there are any underlying medical issues which may be affecting them.

Conditions such as constipation or urinary tract infections can also sometimes affect night time dryness and may require medical attention.

Support and Resources

 Organizations such as ERIC (Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence) offer valuable resources, guidance, and support for families dealing with bladder and bowel issues in children. Their website provides information on strategies, practical tips, and even a helpline for parents seeking assistance.

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Our 1.5-4 Year Sleep Success course can help you get sleep on track – for more predictable naps, easier bedtimes and a more settled night’s sleep.