Night Time Toliet Training for Boys and Girls
A child usually masters daytime toileting before they can keep their bed dry at night. Don’t be concerned if your toddler wets the bed, because most children under the age of five years still urinate in their sleep, and one in 10 younger primary school children do too.
Don’t assume that your child can keep their bed dry just because they can manage their toileting when they are awake. It might help to think of staying dry at night as completely separate to daytime toilet use.
Children gradually learn to recognise the sensation of a full bladder and begin to hold on until a toilet or potty is found. Most children have gained daytime control by the age of 3 years; night time control takes a little longer - girls often achieve this earlier than boys. It is quite normal for children as old as 4 years to be still wetting the bed – and accidents may occur from time to time for a number of years.
So when is the right time to start night potty training?There really is no fixed time or date that can be applied. It is up to you the parent, guided by the child’s stage of development, and their willingness to participate in the process, to tackle the issue.
Guidelines for night time potty training are mentioned below :
If your children are between three and four years of age and have been dry during the day for a few months, you could find out whether they would like to come out of nappies at night. Many children provide clues by mentioning their wet nappies or wet beds for that matter, which gives you the opportunity to introduce the topic and can be a great way of making it something that they want to do, rather than something they have to do. Your child may already be at the stage where they attempt to go to the toilet during the night or call out for your help.
If they are interested, before bed put them in ordinary underwear or pyjamas, let them go to the toilet right before it is time for bed. Once they are in bed give clear instructions about going to the toilet, if they wake up and feel the need to wee. Leave a night light on (so they can feel safe and can see where they are going) and give plenty of goodnight hugs and kisses and encouragement. If the toilet is far away from the bedroom (i.e. down stairs or at the end of a long passageway) you may prefer to leave a potty beside the bed. Most important don’t forget to leave the bathroom light on! Let them know that it is also all right for them to come and wake you to take them to the toilet if they feel safer doing that and if they can hang on that long.
To begin with you might consider extra bedding protection, such as mattress protectors, Brolly Sheets and a washable duvet/doona protector. Give plenty of encouragement, even if the number of dry nights is few. The speed at which children achieve night time dryness does vary, often starting with one or two dry nights a week and building up slowly over a number of months.
However, if your child is wet every night for 2-3 weeks (or any period that causes laundry problems or other difficulties), try not to show your disappointment. Your child is perhaps not yet ready to become dry. You might at this stage wish to consider using absorbent night-time padded pants rather than reverting to nappies - and try again in 3-4 months’ time.
Night time toilet training observations :
- If your child wakes up every morning with a wet nappy, they’re not ready. If you take them out of night time nappies, they will wet the bed.
- Keep your child in night time nappies until most nappies are dry in the morning or until they are wet just before your child wakes. The nappy will be soaked and the urine warm.
- Praise your child for small steps - such as going to the toilet without the need for prompting, drinking good levels of fluid during the day; telling you when they’ve wet - and of course for any dry nights.
- Remember that it might take years for your child to reliably master night-time dryness.
- If your child is becoming anxious or frustrated, forget about night-time toilet training for a while.
- Try not to show your personal frustration during periods of bed wetting.
Approaches to avoid
Some approaches will only delay your attempts to help your child stay dry at night. Approaches to avoid include:
- Don’t criticise, humiliate or belittle your child for being a ‘baby’. Night time bladder control is a process of maturation. All efforts, no matter how small, should be praised.
- Don’t punish your child by making them stay in their wet sheets and pyjamas or getting them to wash the soiled bed linen. If your child is anxious, they are less likely to stay dry at night.
- Don’t deprive your child of fluids in the evening. Make sure they drink plenty during the day so that they are not very thirsty in the evening.
Don’t talk about your child’s ‘problem’ to other people when the child is present, as this can make them feel ashamed and embarrassed.
Five years old and still not dry?
The vast majority of children who are not dry at night by the age of 5 years have nothing physically wrong with their urinary system. A small number may have a physical problem, such as an overactive bladder or a urine infection. If your child’s urine has a ‘fishy’ smell, if he or she has difficulty or pain in passing water, is constantly thirsty or is frequently wet during the day as well as the night, it is best to consult your GP.
Young children (5-7yr) may not yet have learnt to hold on or to recognize when they feel the full bladder sensation. They still need to develop bladder control.
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