Potty training, we all dread it don’t we? The thought of puddles of wee on the carpet or a smelly poo hiding amongst the toys on the floor, it’s enough to make even the most hardcore parent squirm as they reach for the anti bac and pull on the rubber gloves. We get through it though and whether it’s with or without some mess and stress along the way, at some point our toddlers start doing their business in the toilet and we are free from nappy changing duties at long last.
Except we’re not.
After taking a very relaxed approach to potty training, from about 2 years 9 months Leo was dry in the day but still wore a nappy at bedtime. In August last year Leo turned 4 and we ditched the bedtime nappies once and for all. There have been a few accidents since we said bye bye to the pull ups but at last I can confidently say Leo is 99.9% dry at night now – yay!
How to get your four year old dry at night
It takes children a lot longer to learn bladder control at night than in the day and I definitely believe getting dry at night is not something your child should be rushed in to. However, if you think it’s time to try going nappy free at bedtime here are 5 things we did with Leo that have led to success.
1. Talk to them about it – As Leo is 4, he has a really good understanding of the things going on with his body and we were able to explain to him that from now on he needed to try and not do a wee while he was in bed. We talked him through what to do instead, come and get mummy and daddy or shout us if it’s a toilet emergency, and this really helped him to prepare for nappy free nights.
2. Go cold turkey – Sounds a bit crazy but I think once you start you shouldn’t go back, not unless things start going terribly wrong anyway. Once we decided to try Leo with no nappy at bed time even if he had night where he wet the bed we didn’t go back to putting him in a nappy the next night. Going back and forth can get confusing for little ones and you can always pop a waterproof sheet down so the odd accident doesn’t feel like a complete disaster.
3. Reduce drinks before bed – When we first started toilet training at night I made a conscious effort to give Leo less drinks before bed. He always had milk before bed but when we first started going nappy free we started giving him it earlier on in the bedtime routine or not at all. Leo is back to having a cup of warm milk with his bedtime story but he has got to stage now where he will come out for a wee if he needs one, instead of doing it in his sleep.
4. Take them for a sleepy wee – Something we did religiously in those first months of night toilet training was to take Leo for a wee just before we went to bed. We would wake him up enough so he could stand up for us to pull his pj bottoms down and then we’d pop him on the toilet for a wee when he was half asleep. This is something we had to do for about six months, if we didn’t do it I could guarantee I would be woken up by a very grumpy and very wet little boy in the morning. Leo is coming up to five now and we don’t do this anymore, if he needs a wee he either comes out and has one or shouts for us in the middle of the night.
5. Use a reward chart – There’s not many things that can’t be made easier by the use of a reward chart! I drew up a big chart with all the different days of the week and whenever Leo had a dry night he got a star sticker, when he managed to get 7 stars in a row he got a little treat (a magazine or something small). Reward charts are a great way to get your child involved in what is going on and can help them to get really excited about not wearing nappies to bed anymore.
As with potty training, I think toilet training at night should be done at a pace your child is comfortable with and you should include them in every part of the process so they have more of an understanding of what is going on. I am so proud of Leo for transitioning from pulls up to no pull ups so well and I really think just not making a big deal when he does have an accident and being consistent have really helped.
If you are about to start toilet training your four year old at night, I hope this post has helped.
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