Night Time Potty Training – why we’re just not ready yet

Oli was the kid that at the age of three decided he was done with his nappies, stuck on a pair of undies and with only a few wet episodes was good to go. That same day he told me ‘no more nappies’ he refused to wear one to bed and after piling up three changes of linen next to his bed in anticipation of a night of bed changing, we instead all woke to a dry bed, and every night thereafter.

Soph at two decided she was big enough to wear panties, and successfully trained herself, but has always, and consistently, woken up in the morning with a sodden nappy. I decided (note the I) that after this last pack of nappies finished, that that would be the end of it, and we’d finally be nappy free. For those of you that don’t know, Soph just turned three last month. The same age Oli was when he potty trained. My first error in all this was comparing my two children. Two very different children with different bodies and physical developments.

I felt like a fish out of water with this one, I never had to wake Oli up at night to go wee – like every other blog and website will tell you. I don’t think I’ve ever even limited his liquid intake – again, bucking every trend across the topic. He makes a wee after brushing his teeth, and that’s it. I took to Stories to ask for tips and they came flooding in – amongst those: take her for a ‘dream’ wee when you go to bed, run the water from the tap so she’s encouraged to wee, set your alarm at midnight to take her to wee (again), no liquids after 17:30, etc. So much advice from so many people who don’t even know my child. Although, I know my child and still I thought I knew best – which I’ve come to learn that in this instance – I didn’t.

I put so much pressure on her to potty train when her body simply is not ready. I made a star chart to be rewarded when she’d wake to a dry bed, and every morning that the star chart stayed empty she looked at me and said ‘I tried my best’. Those ‘dream’ wee’s everyone suggested? Turned my Soph into a state because ‘I can’t wee wee, Mommy’ but a couple of hours later, she’d come crying to me saying ‘I’m sorry Mommy, I’ll keep trying my best’ with wet pyjamas and a sodden bed. I felt like I was breaking her spirit.

Signs your child may not be ready to potty train at night:

  • Consistently waking up with a wet nappy
  • Waking up at night to go to the toilet or waking up and telling you that she needs to use the toilet

Two important signs I chose to ignore, because my child is three ‘and should not be in a nappy any longer’. Society tells us so. I’m ashamed that I put so much pressure onto my child to do something she just wasn’t ready to do. After another rough night of bed-wetting – the fifth in a row, I was talking to someone at work about what was happening at home, she’s someone who’s opinion I highly value, and her advice to me was so simple – let your child lead you. She will let you know when she’s ready. The simplest of advice I’d inadvertently followed with Oli but chose to ignore with Soph because I felt she was old enough and because so many of my friend’s kids were long done with their nappies.

Just like with talking, walking and sleeping through, night-time dryness is an actual developmental milestone. Yes, she can recognise her need to go to the toilet in the day with absolutely no issues, but while she sleeps, she simply can’t.

There’s two factors involved – Sourced from Baby Center, you can read the full article here.

  1. “For your child to sleep through the night without urinating, his bladder must be able to hold the urine he makes during the night. To help this happen, his body needs to produce a hormone that slows down urine production. As a result, there’s less urine, but it’s more concentrated. Children who wet the bed may not yet be producing enough of this hormone.”
  2. “For your child to wake up to go to the bathroom during the night, his full bladder has to be able to send a strong enough signal to his brain to wake him up. At the same time, his brain must be able to control the muscles around his bladder to stop him from urinating until he has reaches the bathroom. Again, these are physical developments that happen in their own time.”

The relief on her little face when she saw me put the pack of nappies into the trolley this weekend was literally palpable, making me feel even more guilty and that I had failed her as her mother. So, .nappies at night it is, until she shows me she’s ready, and I’m okay with that. My advice for any parent about to take this on, trust your instinct, ignore what your child ‘should’ be doing and remember that every child develops at their own pace – there’s no fault in that. I’m sorry my Bug, we’ll do this at your own pace and when you’re ready.

4 comments Add yours
  1. Oh what a great post! We’re not ready to potty train yet but we have nappy free time every day to help avoid nanny rash. If my baby does any business in those 30 minutes without a nappy she looks so disappointed. It breaks my heart. She’s showing signs of readiness to train but we want to wait for summer. Thanks for this beautiful post, Megan ❤️

  2. Such a great post. My girls were both completely different too. My eldest potty trained easily whilst my youngest did not.
    I wish I had read this post whilst my youngest struggled with her night time potty training!

  3. I can relate to this so much. My daughter started showing signs of being ‘ready’ just before she turned two; she refused to wear a normal nappy, only wanting pulls or panties and I got so excited. After a few weeks, she lost interest but I was the one still caught up in the potty training. I’ve decided to wait until she is ready.

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