Once your child has potty trained and is reliably clean and dry during the day, you may be wondering when and how to tackle night time training? Read on to find out how to know your child is ready and get lots of tips to help you both prepare for the next stage of the toilet training journey...  

Sleeping toddlerTalk to your child to explain what's expected of them at night time

Your child's bladder is still maturing up to the age of five and night time dryness is expected to take longer than the daytime. Each child is an individual so try to avoid comparisons with others the same age - just because they are out of nappies in the day doesn’t mean they will automatically be dry at night too.

Signs of readiness: 

Clues that your child may be ready to start night time training include:

  • Waking up dry or having just a damp rather full nappies in the morning.
  • Two or three dry nights in a row.
  • Your child may ask not to wear bedtime nappies or take it off during the night.
  • Waking in the night to use the toilet or waking you up to ask to help them go. 

Preparation: 

Before you begin, think about what's going to make it easier for your child to use the toilet in the middle of the night? 

  • Explain to your child what they’ll need to do in the night now they won’t have a nappy on.
  • Put a potty in their bedroom and encourage them to practice getting from bed to the potty or toilet.
  • Protect their bed with a waterproof sheet
  • Put a gentle night light by the bed.
  • Make sure they can pull their pyjamas up and down easily.
  • Have fresh pyjamas and bedding ready in case of accidents. 
  • Move your child to the bottom bunk if they are sharing with siblings.                                                                                                       

Teddy on mattressGood drinking habits:

  • Encourage your child to stopping drinking an hour before bedtime. 
  • Don’t restrict daytime fluids thinking this will help it doesn't! Make sure they're having at least 6 drinks during the day.  
  • Try and avoid drinks like hot chocolate and anything fizzy especially before bed as they are more likely to make your child wet at night.
  • Read our wee and poo children's pages with your little one to help them understand why they need to drink well. 

    Good toilet habits:

    • Doing a wee when they first wake up and just before bed should become part of their everyday routine.
    • Make sure they aren’t constipated (pooing less than 4 times a week), as this will stop their bladder from being able to fill properly. 
    • Explain to your child why it's important not to keep your bladder to be emptied - if it's used to being ignored all day how you can expect it to wake you up at night?! 

      Will ‘dream wees’ (lifting) help? 

      Lifting your child can be useful in the first few days without nappies, but make sure the light is on and help your child to wake up. In the long term, taking your drowsy child to the toilet won't stop their bedwetting as it just allows the child to wee in their sleep into the toilet. 

      Praise and rewards: 

      Try to make it a calm, positive experience for both of you. Offer your child lots of encouragement and reassurance. Always reward the efforts they are making to be dry rather than whether it's worked to now. Avoid putting too much pressure on them to be a ‘big boy/girl’ and try to avoid making a fuss out of accidents - it's all part of the process just like with potty training. 

      How about nappies or pulls up ‘just in case’? 

      Some children will never be dry as long as they are wearing some protection – they go to sleep knowing it doesn’t matter if they wee in their sleep and that is just what happens! They’re not being lazy – they just don’t have any control when they’re sleeping. So be brave: try without nappies or pull-ups for at least a week to see if it makes any difference. If accidents keep happening every night, or more than once a night and you’re finding it stressful coping with washing, it's better to go back to nappies and try again after a few weeks. Keep going with the good toileting and drinking habits in the meantime. 

      What if your child doesn’t get dry at night?

      Some children will take much longer to learn night time dryness. Take a look at ERIC’s Guide to Night Time Wetting if bedwetting continues after the age of five years. Help and treatment are available.  

      You can also speak to one of our expert advisors via our bowel and bladder helpline: 0845 370 8008. We're open Monday to Thursday from 10am - 2pm and calls cost 9.6p per minute, plus the phone company's access charge. Alternatively, email helpline@eric.org.uk