Question:
My daughter is 3.5 years old and has been daytime potty trained for about 9 months. She is very vocal about wanting to be out of diapers at night, but rarely goes the whole night dry. I want to support her desire, but am not sure the best way to do it. She is a deep sleeper and had accidents the first couple of nights. The last couple nights we have been waking her up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, which helps but I am not sure it’s going to “train” her to wake up herself. Please let me know if there is a better way to handle the transition.
Answer:
Hi Stacey —
This is a common issue for children who are well along in potty training, but still needing more time for night time dryness. The ability to stay dry at night is unrelated to success in the day, and is much more genetically and biologically based. So your daughter is psychologically ready to be out of diapers completely, but is not physiologically ready to hold through the night. For some children, explaining that her body is not ready, and putting her in pull-ups instead of diapers, can be a solution. You can remind her that “holding pee when asleep is something that most kids learn a little later, and pretty soon you will wake up with a dry pull-up and know your body is ready for underpants at night. It might be when you are four.” When you are matter of fact and encouraging, she may relax and be able to accept.
If she continues to be resistant to this idea and demands underpants, you can problem solve with her for the best solution: waking her ormaking sure you have adequate protection on the bed, and that she is willing to change her pajamas. I don’t believe we necessarily have to train her to wake up in the night to go to the bathroom, as much as get her to the point that she can sleep through the night without waking — which most children are capable of doing eventually (between age 3 and 6 years). You should make sure you are cutting down on liquids in the evening. You can continue to wake her up before you go to bed to cut down on the likelihood she will wet the bed, but I don’t believe it will help her wake up because she has a full bladder. Good luck — I hope she will accept waiting for underwear at night for a few more months. Otherwise you may be doing the night trips to the bathroom for awhile.

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