While a lot of children will grasp the idea of being dry fairly quickly, the gap between learning daytime and night-time potty training is often a large one.
Staying dry throughout the night is an issue that many parents struggle with, often long after their child happily uses the toilet throughout their waking hours. In some cases, it may take even longer before your child fully learns how to stay dry at night.
While some parents advise going cold turkey or rushing children into it as soon as they have learned daytime training, we would be strongly against this school of thought. For children to sleep through the night without urinating, their bladder must be able to hold the urine – this is a hormonal development.
A hormone called antidiuretic hormone, or ADH, causes the body to produce less urine at night. It is not until the brain develops and hormone production reaches the optimum level that your child’s brain will wake them up at night and alert them to the need to use the toilet before an accident occurs.
Once your child learns to stay dry at night, always be prepared for setbacks. Even older children may have accidents if they are unwell, had a nightmare or just too exhausted to wake up. It can also occur with anxiety. Unless it happens frequently, bedwetting is nothing to be overly concerned about.
Knowing that you need to be patient is one thing but it’s also beneficial if you have an idea what to expect. The first thing we would say is that no child is the same and even if your firstborn learned night time training quickly, there’s no guarantee your other children will follow suit. Many parents find their child is four, five or six years old before they are developed enough to wake up at night and use the toilet.
While you cannot rush the process, there are ways that you can encourage your child’s confidence and independence which will naturally have a positive impact. Make sure they use the toilet right before bed and first thing upon waking up.
Leave the hall light on and their bedroom door open a crack – this will set up the process for when they do learn to use the toilet during night hours and familiarise themselves with it.
You should also get to know the signs that your child is ready for night-time potty training. These may be more explicit, such as your child waking in the night and asking to use the toilet or simply asking not to wear their night nappy anymore. They may also be more subtle signs to look out for – a nappy that is only a little wet rather than full or a string of consecutive nights where they have stayed dry.
Image: Donnie Ray Jones/Flickr Creative Commons - https://www.flickr.com/photos/donnieray/25367043456