Toilet training is hard, even on its best day, but nighttime potty training is especially difficult. Many children who are successfully potty trained during the day continue to struggle with getting through the night without soaking their clothing and beds. These accidents aren't done on purpose and should be approached with care. Children who are made to feel bad for wetting the bed may take even longer to toilet train and may suffer self-esteem issues.
Why They Happen
It is most definitely frustrating to be up in the middle of night changing your little one's sheets and pajamas. Accidents at night often happen because your child's bladder isn't ready to go all night without urinating. During the day, she can hit the bathroom every couple of hours, but at night she must go 10 hours or more without peeing. Some young kids who have no problems potty training during the day simply don't wake up when they need to go to the bathroom because the urge to go doesn't alert them quickly enough.
Despite being bleary eyed while changing bedding in the wee hours of the night, your reaction to your child's accident is important. Try to remember that your child doesn't want to be up changing in the night either. Making him feel bad, or getting angry and punishing him, not only makes him feel worse but also sets him up for feeling he can't do it, causing him to give up. Instead, change the sheets and go back to bed without making a big deal out of it. If your child has a dry night, make sure to praise him and encourage him to keep up the hard work. This goes a long way toward motivating him to keep trying.
What to Do
There are several ways to approach the problem of nighttime accidents. While you wait for them to work, try letting your little one wear training pants while she sleeps so she doesn't have to get up and change during the night. A mattress cover is also a good idea because it keeps her bed dry and sanitary even if she has an accident. To reduce the chances of bed wetting, limit fluids a few hours before bedtime. You can also wake your child up before you go to bed and take her to the bathroom to urinate. If your child wakes up during the night, encourage her to go to the toilet before taking her back to bed. Setting this routine can help your child wake up and go on her own over time.
When to Talk to a Doctor
Kids develop at different rates, so just because your first-born could make it through the night at age 3 doesn't mean your second child will. Only 85 percent of children under age 6 are able to control their bladders at night, according to the Potty Training Concepts website. If your child reaches kindergarten and still wets the bed often, talk with his pediatrician to rule out a physical issue, such as an overactive bladder or a recurring bladder infection.