Potty Training Q&A: Staying Dry at Night

You have potty training questions, and we got an expert to answer them! Dr. Heather Wittenberg is a licensed psychologist with a PsyD degree whose specialty is in the development of babies, toddlers, preschoolers and parents.

Question: My daughter is potty trained during the day, at night she will have an accident once in awhile because she doesn't want to get up to go to the bathroom.  Is this something I should wait on or should I just go cold turkey to see if that will motivate her?


Dr. Heather:  Congrats! You and your child have successfully done everything you possibly can on this potty training journey. The only thing to do now is wait while Mother Nature takes its course. Nighttime dryness is something toddlers grow into overtime as their bodies mature. While you wait, try Pull-Ups Night*Time Training Pants to absorb wetness when accidents happen and keep sheets dry. If your child is 4 or older, you may want to speak to your pediatrician and visit GoodNites.com for more information on nighttime wetting.

Question: How can I make the night transition easier? He has been day time trained since he was 20 months old but he is 3 now and still wears pull ups at night. He does wake up dry some times. We do limit his drinks after 7pm and he pees right before we put him in the bed.

Dr. Heather:  Nighttime dryness evolves naturally as your child grows, and most children are okay with that. If your little one is concerned, just explain that his body is still growing and it will eventually happen. Usually, restricting liquids doesn’t make much difference. In the meantime, we have our Pull-Ups Night*Time characters to keep us company. Visit Pull-Ups.com for more information on nighttime training.

Question: My son just turned 5 and is fully potty trained during the day. BUT, when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he will come looking for me and needs me to take him to the bathroom. How can I get him to wake up and go to the bathroom and right back to bed (without waking me up)? We also are in the habit of taking him to go to the bathroom before we go to bed, so he doesn’t wake us in the middle of the night. I would love to get out of that habit though and have him go by himself.

Dr. Heather:  Nighttime is a difficult time of separation for toddlers. As parents, we need to walk a fine line of providing plenty of reassurance and comfort (on one hand), and encouraging independent sleep (on the other). Try asking him why he’d like help, or if a nightlight would make him feel better. If he’s scared of the dark, for example, you might try to tackle that problem. It’s perfectly normal for children to experience different habits as they get more comfortable on the potty. If he still creates a lot of pee at night, he may need that extra support until his body naturally begins to decrease the amount over time. However, if he doesn’t make much pee but still awakens you, he might be looking for reassurance – or simply just used to the nighttime awakening routine. Talk with him about how important sleep is to EVERYONE in the family, and see if he’s willing to spend a little extra time with you in the day instead of getting you up during the night. You can also bargain with him by continuing to take him to the potty before you go to bed, in exchange for no additional nighttime wakeups from him. The nighttime potty training process will come eventually, when he’s feeling comfortable – and when his body is ready.

Question: How do I help my daughter to get out of Pull-Ups at nighttime? We have stopped liquids before bedtime. Any suggestions?

Dr. Heather:  Nighttime dryness evolves naturally as your child grows, which is why day training and night training are two completely different animals. At this point, it’s just a matter of waiting on your child’s physical development. Restricting liquids doesn’t seem to make much difference. There’s no trick to speed up nighttime potty training, so hopefully you can give your child (and yourself) a break on this one. You are not alone – one in six children experience nighttime wetting! While you wait, try Pull-Ups Night*Time Training Pants or GoodNites Nighttime Pants to absorb wetness when accidents happen and keep sheets dry.

For more expert answers to your potty-training questions, check out Dr. Heather’s other tips!

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