“Do I wake my sleeping child to prevent nighttime accidents while potty training?”
My professional advice as a child sleep consultant on this topic has been shared many times with clients as well as in Pam Nease Family (our past client parenting support group on Facebook since May 2017).
So wonderful parents who have done or who are considering potty training with their little ones; I could not sleep last night thinking about all of you. I know this is a common subject that is discussed in the group and I LOVE it.
I could not sleep last night because it cannot wait. WHY? Well I had a glass of wine with two moms in the evening and YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW!
One mom’s boy was 10 years old and suffered humiliation at school as he started having accidents there and his friends found out that he was still wearing pull ups at night.
The other mom’s boy is 13 years old and is still wearing pull ups and it broke my heart. They are not alone. I know many more children who are wearing pull ups as tweens and teenagers.
The purpose of our meeting was to discuss nighttime toilet training as both of them have “tried everything”. The mom of the 10 year old was sharing her story and at the end of the day, after exhausting everything else first – physio, osteopath, body talk, changes in diet and more, it was a bedwetting alarm that resolved the issue and some words from Grandma: “You are in control of your body!”
Until I have time to write even more detailed instructions and the rationale behind my logic, here’s what I want you to TRUST me on this NOW.
You DO NOT WAKE a child in the night to take them to the potty. Most potty training experts are not sleep consultants; a good night’s rest is still top priority for children to master using the toilet. Imagine having to learn a complicated new skill at work when you are overtired; it makes it a lot harder!
"You DO NOT WAKE a child in the night to take them to the potty. Most potty training experts are not sleep consultants; a good night's rest is still top priority for children to master using the toilet."
The nighttime training will come along as the child’s skills are developed during the day:
1) If you are teaching your little one how to be toilet independent and they wake up dry from their naps two times in a row, TAKE OFF THAT DIAPER. DO IT!
2) If you are teaching your little one how to be toilet independent and they wake up dry from their overnight sleep two times in a row, TAKE OFF THAT DIAPER. DO IT!
3) PLANT THE RIGHT SEED! You can only imagine how much I smiled when the one mom shared the Grandma story. It is something I tell ALL of my parents who have reached out and paid for this advice through our retainer packages since 2009:
Do NOT say, “Johnny, IF you need to go to the bathroom in the night, you can come and get Mommy”.
I KNOW you are nervous. The last thing you want is wet sheets. I get it. I was once there in your shoes too.
I want you to LIE to your child. I know it is not good to lie to our children, but this time it is warranted. I know it is common and also normal for adults, especially pregnant women and men over 40 to wake up to go pee in the night.
Although common, it is not normal for 90% or more of typically developing children.
So, the conversation should go like this. “Johnny! You are a BIG BOY! You can DO THIS. Mommy and Daddy do not wake up in the night to go PEE. We wait until morning and then we empty our bladders FIRST thing in the morning.
4) Invest in extra sheets – get used ones from the thrift store and TWO good mattress protectors. That way IF there is an accident, you can change quickly and get everyone back to bed. So, it is mattress protector, sheet, mattress protector, sheet.
5) IMMEDIATELY after they wake up from the nap or in the morning, even if they protest – make it a habit. GET THAT DIAPER OFF and INSIST they try going to the bathroom before any snuggles, breakfast, snack, tv, screen time even if they wake up with a wet one.
6) If after SIX months of your child learning how to use the bathroom by day and your child is still waking up WET in the morning, you need to TAKE ACTION to help them learn HOW to HOLD it.
Please do NOT buy into the MYTH that they will grow out of it. YES! There is a small percentage of TRUE bed wetters, but please TRY teaching them first and THEN pursue more interventions such as osteopaths, physiotherapists and bed wetting alarms.
WHEN is the RIGHT TIME?
My philosophy is the same as resolving a thumb sucking to sleep habit – try to resolve any bed wetting before they can REMEMBER it. Ideally, you want to teach your child to hold their pee at night around age 3 to 4.
Just the other day, my daughter Maddy brought back her original Lovey from her Dad’s house and we were LOVIN’ on Teddy and talking about how she used to suck her finger. She did not remember that and she also did not remember how I changed the habit just before she started school.
Tell me more PAM! What else do I?
Oh man, there is so much I want to share with you. For now, if you do have an older child age 6 and up who is still wearing pull ups or wetting the bed, my best advice is to invest in the Therapee product. It is expensive, but it works. And do it NOW.
Do not wait any longer. You are already spending a ton of money on pull ups as they only get more expensive as they get older and older.
Plus, my fear is that your child will start having accidents at school like the mom I mentioned above– plus another mom I worked with about two years ago.
While teaching her son to sleep independently, we got him out of disposable underwear as part of her consultation package, we were successful without having to use the device.
In another case, my behavioural interventions were not enough and mom needed to buy the device. She was still happy trying my suggestions first.
If you are ready to Get Sleep Now, book your free initial consultation today!