When you start potty training, you may not think about how it will impact your child’s sleep. Sometimes it does not have much of an impact, but sometimes it does. It is better to be prepared for the worse and hope for the best. If you are just starting potty training, I recommend leaving a diaper or pullup on your child at night until you are sure they are consistently waking up dry. While some people say you should change to underwear and never go back, I believe you can differentiate day from night.
Something to keep in mind while potty training is that there are biological issues involved in being able to stay dry at night. The age at which a child is biologically able to stay dry at night varies. In order to stay dry at night, the child’s bladder needs to be big enough to hold urine all night, the nerves that control the bladder must be mature enough to signal the brain to wake up if the bladder is full, and the child has to be making enough of the hormone that slows urine production at night. So wearing a pullup or diaper to bed is perfectly normal. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bed-wetting/DS00611/DSECTION=causes
Some sleep issues to prepare for while potty training are:
Stalling at bedtime
If your child is starting to stall at bedtime because they say they have to go potty and are just sitting there and sitting there, you need to take control and give them a time limit. Popular ways to limit the time are to set a timer for whatever you feel is a reasonable amount of time or read a limited amount of books to them. Whatever you do, when time is up, they need to go to bed. If they normally go to bed without mentioning the potty and come out immediately to go potty, try taking them right before they go to bed and reminding them that this will be the last time they get to sit on the potty.
Waking in the middle of the night to go potty
If your child wakes up and wants you to help them go potty, keep the lights low and do it quickly and calmly. This is something you will probably need to get used to doing, until your child can wake up on their own during the night and go to the bathroom and take care of everything themselves. If your child is young and potty training, this is probably not something you really want them doing. During the day, encourage them to do as much on their own as they can – have them wipe themselves (and then you can afterwards!), have them pull up their own clothes. Also get them in the habit of dressing themselves. You could also do a “dream pee”. Right before you go to bed, wake your child and take them to the bathroom.
Waking in the middle of the night wanting to be changed
If your child is still in a pullup or diaper and they wet it during the night, they may wake up to be changed. Change them as quickly and calmly as you can, keeping lights low and electronics off. If your child is in a pullup, they may be able to do much of the changing process by themselves, but it is better to practice this in the daytime first, then start working on it at night. Of course you still want to let them know if they need you, they can come get you, but if they are mostly waking to be with you, they may stop this. And if they are not in a diaper or pullup and have an accident, then they will definitely need your help. Make sure you have a waterproof mattress pad on the bed so it will not soak through – if your child often has accidents, you may want to put 2 sets of everything on their bed so it is easier on you to change during the night.
Do you have questions or comments? Has potty training impacted your child’s sleep? Feel free to post below!
by Michelle Winters
SleepWell Sleep Solutions