Potty Training: Nighttime Urinary Control

Question

Hello! I will begin potty training my son in June, at which point he will have just turned 20 months old. I have read your potty training book and everything else I’ve been able to find regarding potty training, including many of the questions here. However, I cannot seem to find a consistent message about nighttime during training.

My son still sleeps in a crib and is used to wearing overnight diapers to bed. I know you recommend getting rid of all diapers when training begins, but should that include overnight diapers as well? Should we continue to diaper him at night until he wakes up dry often enough to eliminate them? Given that he’s still in a crib, he would be unable to get up and go at night by himself, but I wouldn’t want the nighttime diapers to undo any progress we make during the day. Any advice you could offer would be great!

Thanks so much!

Answer

First, kudos for planning on toilet training your son on time. Now, with respect to nighttime control, that does not develop as the result of "training." Rather, it develops pretty much on its own, usually around 3 to six months after a child has been daytime trained. So, no, I do not recommend that you get rid of diapers at night until AFTER the child has been successfully trained during the day. After daytime training, three to six months later, he will begin waking up dry on occasion. That's your signal. Remove his diapers at night. Now, when you do that, remember, he's not going to learn to stop wetting the bed until he has wet the bed for a while. Use a plastic sheet under his regular sheet so he doesn't ruin the mattress and just be encouraging. Boys take longer to develop nighttime control than girls. Remember that too. Don't get frustrated. There are columns in the archives that deal with this in greater detail, by the way.

John

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