Welcome back to the world of potty training! In the first part of this post series, we looked at the background behind this whole rather ‘potty’ process of weaning off the last nighttime diaper and the fears I had (See post titled “Saying Goodbye to that Last Overnight Diaper (Part 1) – Background”). Here, in part 2 of this post series, I would like to describe the successful process I undertook. These are the main steps involved:
- Have a small potty in her bedroom at ALL times, so that she gets used to using that during the day.
- Install a small dim nightlight in toddler’s room, bright enough so that she can still see and use the potty.
- Get toddler up earlier in the morning and earlier to bed in the evening. That way, you will have a chance to go in and do the first ‘potty run’ at night before you head to bed.
- Give your toddler the last chance to drink water about 1-2 hours before bedtime.
- Prepare the bed: have spare bedsheets and place disposable mattress pads underneath the fitted sheet. Some even wrap the entire mattress in plastic before attempting night time potty training!
- As part of the bedtime routine, the last step is to have your toddler pee before being tucked into bed.
- Do some initial investigating: the key is to know your toddler’s night time pattern: how often does he/she tend to pee in the diaper at night? Is it usually about 2-3 hours after he/she falls asleep? If so, you can time the first ‘potty run’ at that time to keep the diaper dry. Then once or twice at night, you can go in to check the toddler’s diaper to see if it is wet to gauge roughly when the next ‘potty run’ needs to be timed.
- You can initially start with one ‘potty run’ a night first, to get you and your toddler used to the idea of waking up and getting back to sleep quickly. Then gradually add in the 2nd
- First thing in the morning, when the toddler wakes, you need to get the toddler used to using the potty immediately (if she/he feels the need to). This may mean you waking up first earlier prior to the toddler waking up, until the toddler is used to going to the potty automatically after waking up.
- Praise the toddler and give a big reward (e.g., she can sleep with a stuffed toy of her choosing, and/or a small surprise toy or roll of stickers) if the diaper stays dry for a few days in a row. Then when the child’s diaper stays dry for a week or more in a row, he/she can move on to a trial of regular underwear (with/without an outer pair of plastic pants) at night!
Note that this entire process may take slightly longer than the ‘cold turkey’ method, since it is a graduated approach, and involves some trial and error. Your toddler will also continue to use the diaper for a while.
An alternative method is to buy a pair of plastic training pull up shorts or pants, and to put on the underwear inside. Then if the child wets himself or herself, he or she will feel naturally uncomfortable and wake up. This will prevent much urine getting on the bedsheets, but may help the child get more used to waking up on his/her own to pee. The plastic training shorts apparently aren’t too expensive, and usually come in a set of 2-4 pairs. If you prefer this method, it may be worth a try with your toddler!