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How to Potty Train a Child at Nighttime

By Shelley Frost ; Updated September 26, 2017
Reminding your child to use the bathroom before falling asleep makes nighttime training easier.

Toddlers learn to use the toilet first during the day, but nighttime potty training often takes longer -- with mastery sometimes not happening until years of age. If your child starts staying dry at night, he may be ready to get rid of the nighttime diapers. The process will likely involve some bed wetting, but knowing what to expect allows you to guide your child through the process.

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Determine If He's Ready

Age is often unreliable when determining a child's readiness for nighttime potty training. He needs to show the ability to stay dry through the night. Check for dry diapers when he wakes at least a few mornings per week. He may also wake during the night and call out or attempt to make it to the bathroom on his own. If he is able to stay dry for most of the night or wake himself up when he needs to use the bathroom, nighttime potty training may be a success.

Tune Up the Day Time Routine

Just like daytime potty training, staying dry at night is easier with a regular routine. Emptying the bladder fully each time he uses the bathroom helps his bladder function properly and may aid in nighttime potty training. Encourage him to slow down when he goes to the bathroom so he can fully empty his bladder. Limiting liquids late in the evening helps your child stay dry overnight. Stick with water in smaller amounts. Calm evening activities that don't require extra water for hydration and early dinners keep the amount of liquids before bedtime under control.

Handling Night Time

One last trip to the bathroom right before bedtime is crucial to success in overnight training. You don't need to wake your child during the night to use the bathroom, but if he wakes on his own encourage him to attempt going to the bathroom before he goes back to sleep. Encouragement and reminders both at night and in the morning reinforce the idea of staying dry. Skip the punishments or criticisms if your child does wet the bed.


Accidents are likely to happen at least occasionally during the overnight potty training process. A waterproof mattress cover keeps the urine from soaking into the mattress. Keep an extra cover as a backup when the primary cover is in the wash. A clear path and easy access to the bathroom is also key in successful nighttime training. Nightlights in your child's room, the hallway and the bathroom help him find the way before he has an accident. If your child has difficulty with overnight bladder control after age 6, check with his doctor for possible testing to determine whether there is a medical problem.

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About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.

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