How To Potty Train At Night

If your child is doing well using the potty during the day, the chances are that you're now ready to tackle night time potty training. Typically, children master daytime potty training before moving on to potty training at night. What’s different about these two processes? And how do you know when to start night time potty training? Read on for all the details, plus a few tips and tricks to make this undertaking easier for both you and your toddler.

Daytime Versus Night Time Potty Training

Children often start potty training at around 2 years old. Some children are ready earlier – others need a little more time. Daytime potty training starts with your child recognising the urge to wee and getting to the potty or toilet on their own, or with the help of a trusted adult. When your child has successfully mastered potty training, they will be able to use the toilet and no longer rely on nappies during the day. Night time potty training comes later, after you have successfully navigated daytime potty training. It’s important to know that your toddler will probably still need to use nappies at night and possibly during nap time too as they get to grips with potty training. Keep in mind that night time potty training can vary from child to child: some children need more time to learn how to stay dry at night. Some do not stay dry at night until they’re around 5 or 6 years old. That’s natural – up to one in five children sometimes still wet the bed at 5 years old.

When to Potty Train at Night

When to potty train at night will depend on your toddler. Although you can incorporate some night time potty training techniques into daytime training, it’s best to wait until your child is regularly using the toilet or potty during the day before focusing on staying dry overnight. Children all develop at different paces, so there’s no one-age-fits-all approach that can be applied to potty training at night. However, if your child begins potty training at about 2 years old, they might be ready to start working towards night time dryness by the time that they are 3 years old.

Is Night Time Potty Training Possible?

Yes! Night time potty training is more about the routine that you put in place to support your toddler rather than actually using the toilet or potty during the night. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Bowel control. Bowel control comes before bladder control, so your toddler probably won’t experience overnight bowel movements. Most babies have stopped pooing in the night by the time they are 1 year old. But of course, every child is different, so you might get the accidental slip-up.

  • Bladder control. It takes time for the bladder to mature and for the brain to be able to send signals that it’s time to wake up from sleep to pee. This physiological development isn’t typically complete until your child is about 6 years old. That's why night time bedwetting (enuresis) is common in children up until about 5 or 6 years of age.

  • Waking your child up at night. Some parents wonder if waking their child up should be part of potty training at night. It’s best to let your toddler develop the ability to wake up on their own when needing to pee. However, if your child is wetting the bed at night after 5 years old, you could consult your health visitor or GP. In some cases, they may recommend using a bed-wetting alarm device, which automatically goes off when moisture is detected and helps make the connection between waking up and needing to pee. They sometimes may also prescribe medication to reduce how much pee is made in the night.

Handy tip

Don’t try to push your child into potty training, day or night. It won’t work. Encouragement is the best way, with heaps of praise when they start using the potty or they come to you or call you at night when they need to pee.


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Hints and Tips on How to Potty Train at Night

To help you and your toddler get to grips with night time potty training, we’ve compiled 13 of our best night time potty training hints and tips:

1. Encourage your toddler to go to the toilet before bed

This is one of the best and most straightforward tips for how to potty train overnight. While potty training – even in the early stages of daytime toilet training – build one last bathroom trip into your child’s bedtime routine. This allows them to empty their bladder before falling asleep, which could help them avoid night time wetting.

2. Follow a calm bedtime routine

A calming, relaxing bedtime routine should ideally include quiet, relaxing activities such as reading a book together. Ending your child’s day on a calm note helps to get them ready to drift off to sleep. Excitement and stress are linked to night time bed-wetting and could set back children who are nearly or fully potty-trained.

3. Create a morning routine starting with the loo

To help with potty training at night, you could also put in place a routine for the morning, starting with a quick visit to the loo. While a night time routine encourages your toddler to empty their bladder before falling asleep, a morning routine might help them wait until they wake up to pee.

4. Use training pants

Once your child has successfully mastered daytime potty training, you can make the switch from nappies to training pants at night. Using night time potty training pants rather than nappies allows children to differentiate between the stages of potty training. Plus, children can wear these pants as long as needed, as they can pull them up and down on their own. It’s not uncommon for a 4 or 5-year-old to still be wearing pyjama pants or training pants at night as part of their potty training!

5. Offer reassurance

Your main goal is to make the night time potty training process as positive and stress-free as possible for your child, which means reassuring them when potty training accidents happen. Remind your toddler that all children are still learning how to wake up to pee at this age and that it’s normal to have an accident.

6. Opt for praise, not punishment

Remember that your toddler cannot control whether or not they wake up to pee and that it’s a waiting game for their bladders to mature. Scolding, blaming or punishing a child for peeing at night will hinder progress and cause stress or fear. Instead, praise your toddler when night time potty training works; for instance, when they wake up dry or get up to use the toilet at night.

7. Give permission to wake you up if needed

Your child might be nervous about waking up and going to the toilet alone in the dark. Let them know that it’s okay to wake you up if they need help or feel scared.

8. Make the toilet accessible

Just like offering to take them to the toilet at night, make sure the journey to the bathroom isn’t scary for your child. This could mean keeping their bedroom door and the bathroom door open at night and/or putting night-lights in your child’s room, the hallway and the bathroom. Let your child choose their own night-light… they may be excited to wake up and see their favourite animals or cartoon characters leading the way to the toilet.

9. Explain why bed-wetting happens

Keeping your child in the loop about the ups and downs of night time potty training and why they may still wet the bed may help, especially as they get older. Although nocturnal enuresis (bed-wetting) doesn’t have a distinct cause, family history is often a factor, so it may be comforting to your child if they know that Mummy, Daddy or a sibling also went through this process.

10. Phase out training pants when ready

Your child will probably feel excited about not wearing training pants overnight. Because success with night time potty training can ebb and flow, it may be best to wait until your child wakes up with dry training pants for at least a few nights in a row, or consistently for at least a week or two before phasing them out.

11. Use a waterproof sheet

Remember that it’s common for children to wet the bed during night time potty training (or even relapse at times). Once your toddler has started to use normal pants, they might experience potty-training accidents at night. A mattress protector or waterproof sheet works wonders to protect and prolong the life of your child’s mattress.

12. Be prepared for accidents

As well as covering the mattress, be prepared for other little potty-training accidents. Some children might wake up after wetting the bed and call out for you. Keep some supplies handy, just in case, like a clean sheet, some training pants and fresh underwear or pyjamas. If you’re prepared and calm, it will help your child stay calm as well.

13. Practice being patient

Throughout the entire process of potty training at night, remember to practice patience, which, along with the right timing, will lead to success for your child. When children feel calm and secure, they make good progress with night time potty training, and for you as a parent, it’s important to set the tone and keep it positive.


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When to Seek Further Help

Even if you follow our tips above about how to potty train a toddler at night, it can still take a while. Remember that it’s normal for a child who is 3, 4 or even 5 years old to still be working on night time potty training. Managing bed-wetting is a key part of potty training at night. Note that some children may be dealing with this issue on occasion until adolescence. Keep the following in mind:

  • Accidents are common for children during daytime or night time potty training.

  • After six months of potty training, accidents may decrease but can still occur, especially at night.

  • Bed-wetting commonly persists for up to one year after starting night time potty training.

Contact your child’s GP if your child is older than 5 and still wetting the bed at night consistently, despite all night time potty-training efforts. They probably just need a little extra time with potty training, but your doctor can check for any issues and offer advice or treatment options, if necessary.

In summary

Potty training at night is helped by having a good routine before bed, being prepared for accidents and always staying calm and positive with your young child while they learn. Although it can be achieved by the time your child is 2 or 3, don’t panic if your 5-year-old still has accidents – your child’s brain is training too! If your child have issues with bed-wetting beyond the age of 5, their GP can offer support and advice.



Children develop at different rates, so there’s no standard age that a child ‘should’ be dry at night. However, if your child is still wetting the bed at night at 5 years old, contact your GP to get more specific advice regarding your child’s unique situation.

The Bottom Line

Children develop at their own unique rates, and that is also true when you are starting night time potty training. Although some children are dry at night faster than others, it’s common for bed-wetting to occur regularly up to 5 years old – and occasionally into adolescence. Potty training at night is a gradual process, as you must wait for your child’s bladder to mature and their brain to learn to send signals to alert them when it is time to wake up to pee. Children sometimes don’t achieve this until about 6 years old, so your child is almost guaranteed to experience a few accidents during night time potty training. The best way forward with potty training overnight is to stay calm, patient and positive.

Occasionally, some children continue to struggle with staying dry at night. You might want to have a word with your doctor – they can always offer sound help and advice, and check that there are no other underlying issues.

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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