Toddler Development: Night Time Potty Training

With Gavin effectively potty trained during the day time, I figured it was time to work on the night time potty training.  He seemed ready for it – he can pull down his pants, put them back on again, and he can go to the toilet by himself.  He sleeps on the bed with us or in his cot which has an open side so he can get in and out by himself.  Since he sleeps with us, he can wake us up for help whenever he needed it.

Diapers keep him dry at night so the only way to make him realise he needed to wake up to go to the toilet was to let him wear underwear to sleep.  My rationale was that he would wake up the moment he wet himself and eventually learn to wake up just before he pees.  I was even prepared to get up to change him in the middle of the night.  Since it would mean disruptions during the night, I decided to wait until Gavin’s school holidays before attempting night time potty training.

So last night was the first night we attempted to potty train him during the night.  Here were a couple of our problems:

  • In an attempt to minimise the mess, I lined his bed with a rubber mat and towel.  In theory it sounded great – if Gavin wet himself, at least the bed would be spared.  Unfortunately, Gavin doesn’t sleep in one spot.  He has a habit of moving around at night sleeping anywhere and everywhere, sometimes in some of the most awkward positions.  Tonight, he peed while he was sleeping next to Daddy.
  • I was prepared to deal with the mess.  I knew I would have to change him in the middle of the night. All that would have been okay if only Gavin would wake up when he wet himself and tell us about it.  Unfortunately, he also sleeps like the dead – he wet himself and the bed and slept right through it.  It was only when he kicked Daddy in his sleep that Daddy woke up and realise that Gavin was wet.

Okay, so maybe Gavin isn’t quite ready for night time potty training.

In the mean time, I decided to check online for some night time potty training tips…

Jenny Evans from Suite101 suggested waking the child up during the night to go to the toilet as a means of helping him learn to wake up to pee.  It’s a great idea and I’m sure it would work well for some kids.  Unfortunately for us, Gavin doesn’t wake easily.  Not only does it take considerable effort to get him up, it may even elicit wailing and screaming loud enough to bring the house down.  Since Gavin’s wailing wakes Gareth, it doesn’t sound like a viable option for us to try.

As for the suggestion of underwear or training pants, I’m afraid Gavin already knows the difference between underwear and training pants.  He also knows that he can pee in training pants and get away with it.  For that reason, he always tries to get me to let him wear training pants during the day time.  This is even in preference to wearing his favourite Thomas underwear!  I’ve also tried telling him not to let Thomas get wet and it didn’t work – Thomas, Percy and various other characters have been peed on more times than I can remember.

Based on the information from Potty Training Concepts and Better Health Channel, Gavin does not appear to be ready for night time potty training.  Gavin’s diapers are always wet in the morning and I know that he has wet them during the night – not just before he wakes.

What are your experiences?  Have you successfully potty trained your child overnight?  Please share what worked for you and what didn’t.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

7 thoughts on “Toddler Development: Night Time Potty Training

  1. Hi,
    I usually carry my daughter out of her cot to let her wee on the potty a few hour after putting her down to sleep. I’ve been doing that for about 6 months now. Most of the time she’s barely half awake during the process so this routine does not seem to interrupt her sleep at all. Maybe you can consider this method.


  2. Thanks… I’ll try that. Does she actually wee while half asleep? How many times during the night do you do this?

    We tried again tonight but Gavin’s wearing training pants. No pee so far but I think he hasn’t drunk enough fluids today. He’s been quite resistant to drinking water lately but will take apple juice.


  3. Yes she does, right from the first day! At the moment i only go into her room once, around midnight which initially was not enough as she usually wee twice during the nights. So when i feel really up to it i will wake up again around 3 or 4am to wee her again. Nowadays she often will stay dry till morning despite just one potty visit.
    I put the microfibre insert on top of the pocket nappy instead of the pocket itself in the hope that it will encourage her to have more awareness whenever she does wet herself. I always try to wee her right before i put her down to her cot.


  4. Thanks for the tip. I tried it last night and he peed in the pot! Hurray! But I was a little late because I missed the first pee. The diaper smelled of pee but it felt dry? He was wearing the Antsy Pants pull up which seems a little too effective in keeping him dry. Then again, the first night when he peed, he was wearing underwear and he didn’t wake up even though he was soaked through and lying on a wet patch on the bed.

    Our son sleeps with us so I really have no excuse not to get up and take him to the toilet! We’ll see how we go again tonight.


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