HELP!! My 4 Year Old REALLY Wants to Be Night Time Potty Trained!

Updated on July 11, 2010
P.T. asks from Trussville, AL
14 answers

My daughter turned 4 this week. She has been daytime potty trained since she was 3. Until about 3 months ago she was wearing pull ups only to nap and bed at night. Well after quite a few times of her being dry we stopped using the pull ups at nap but have continued them at night because she usually wakes up with it wet. We stop all drinks at 7:pm and she goes to bed at 8:pm and ALWAYS potty's right before getting in bed.
Let me say that dad and I are 100% fine with her staying in pull ups at night, there is no pressure from us to get out of them. But SHE informed us :-) after her birthday that 4 year old girls are too big for pull ups and she wants to sleep in panties. So I have been letting her, we talked lots about using the potty and having a dry bed etc. Well, she has wet 4 out of 5 nights. I put her in the "thick" training pants because I thought they would absorb more if she just had a minor accident and also put a water proof pad on her bed.
MY QUESTION is any suggestions to help her with this transition? She really wants to do it and gets so upset when she has a wet bed. I realize its only been a few days, but how long do you think I should give her before putting the pull ups back on? TIA

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answers from Pittsburgh on

What a little sweetie! She is so anxious to be "grown up"! Bless her little heart.
Fact is though, some kids just are not physically able to hold it all night til 5 or 6 or 7. Maybe she is O. of those. In that case, even waking her through the night for her to pee isn't really "helping" the situation.
I guess you have two choices:
1. Let her wear undies and brace for impact (layer sheet/waterproof pad.sheet/waterproof pad & keep a stack of clean dry undies and jammies handy
2. Find some cool, cloth-LIKE overnight pants (UnderJams/Good NItes) that she will accept for now.
Good luck!

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answers from Dallas on

For a short while my husband and I would do the same thing you have described for the bedtime routine, but when we went to bed later, one of us would wake her up to take her potty. We realized after a few nights/weeks, she would wake up on her own and go. We also make sure she can see to the potty or even put a potty chair in her room if that would help. This worked for both of our girls.

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answers from Portland on

Some kids really can't feel the urge during heavy sleep, and it has nothing to do with willpower. It's so great that your daughter wants to sleep in panties, and I'd assure her that she will, just as soon as her brain and nerves have gotten good at helping her wake up in time to use the bathroom. Until then, she'll sleep better and there will be less cleanups to do if she uses pullups.

Tell her you'll keep track of her morning dryness, and as soon as she's able to wake up dry X nights out of Y (you determine what sounds reasonable, because even night-trained kids can have occasional accidents), then she'll be ready to sleep in panties.

Meanwhile, you can try guiding her to the bathroom when you're heading for bed if that doesn't disturb her sleep too much. Keep assuring her that it's not her fault, and lots of big girls and boys need pullups for a long time after they are trained. Let her know that her attitude is fabulous and very grown-up, and she can be proud of that.

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answers from Rochester on

I think you have good advice here so far, but wanted to add that you can take her when you purchase something (not a Pull-Up since she knows what that is) for her to wear at night and tell her it is for older girls or something like that. I wet the bed (not every night) until I was 11 years old and it was awful, but Goodnights or some equivalent can be much better than waking up wet. I think we only used them away from home (my sister and I had this problem) and we just learned to deal with waking up to a wet bed. It was not every night, we changed and washed our bedding and pajamas, etc (when we were old enough) and moved on. Her body might not be ready to stay dry but I agree that if she is eager to go in underwear, just set things up to make nighttime cleanups easier (a folded pad under her, waterproof cover on her mattress, extra PJs set out, etc). I would not restrict liquids because that usually has nothing to do with waking up or wetting the bed. Children should drink when they are thirsty and it is just a matter of her body maturing and waking from a deep sleep to use the bathroom. Good luck!

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Dallas on

My daughter is just turned 3 in June. She has been night trained for 4 months. Here is what we did....

1. Have your daughter go through and throw away all the pullups. This is her decision and you are empowering her to take control. You will not be going back to pullups.

2. Do not use training panties. Training panties don't allow the child to feel the wet sensation early enough to stop the flow and don't contain a full bladder. Buy Poise pads. So put a pad in her panties each night to start out with. This allows her to feel like she is in big girl panties but gives her protection. After you stop using the pads, leave her in regular panties.

3. Layer fitted sheets and sheet saver pads at least 3 sets deep on her bed. I also put wax paper under each sheet saver to allow the pad to soak up more liquid. The layers are so you can strip the bed down to the dry sheet and put her back to bed quickly. This is important to training their system.

4. For the first 2 weeks, I woke her up twice a night. She would go to bed at 8. I would wake her up at 11 and again at 4 am. This trains her body that it is ok to wake up in the middle of the night to go. After the first 2 weeks, I dropped this down to once a night at midnight - again for 2 weeks.

Once she was waking up dry, I stopped using the pads. We had 2 accidents after that, but she has been night dry since.

Good luck and stay patient. She will do fine! :)

++ We do limit liquids for 1.5 hours before bedtime.

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answers from Dallas on

Every little girl is different. Some girls' bladders mature before other girls, and some girls are deeper sleepers. My oldest daughter sleeps so deeply that I could quite literally pick her up and shake her and she would NOT wake up. Naturally, with that, she did not night-time potty train until she was 5 years old. My youngest daughter night-time potty trained as soon as she finished day-time potty training. She just never had an issue with it. If she needs to pee, she wakes up and goes.

A few things to try:

they sell a waterproof pad with an alarm on it. When it gets moist, the alarm goes off. This creates a trigger in your daughter's brain that makes it possible for her to wake up when she pees the bed.

Wake her up in the middle of the night. I started doing that with my oldest daughter. She didn't wake up fully, because like I said, she is an incredibly deep sleeper, but she woke up enough to be able to sit on the potty. This created an awareness in her brain that there was a need to wake up in the middle of the night to pee. Eventually she started doing this on her own.

I also did the water-proof matress pads in hopes that the wetness of her panties as opposed to the protection of the pull-ups would cause her to be more aware. Obviously that didn't work at all, but at least it protected the mattress!!

She might just not be ready. They sell 'big girl' night-time protection, maybe she would be more willing to try those instead of the pull-ups.

Good luck!!!



answers from Wichita Falls on

My daughter is 4 1/2 and still having the nighttime bedwetting problem. I started setting my alarm in the middle of the night and taking her to go potty then. She falls right back to sleep after. She has even started waking on her own to tell me she has to go. I try to limit liquids before bedtime, but that doesn't always work. The little interuption in sleep is worth not having to wash sheets every day.



answers from Atlanta on

Well it's in the brain and sometimes a person's (child's) body just isn't ready but it's always worth trying. I used a little monitor that buzzed like crazy when you start to wet plus wakes you up sometimes
It can be found on some websites for potty training, it worked for us and using some of those pads that you lay in a bed.



answers from Dallas on

If you aren't taking her to the potty before you go to bed I'd definitely try that. My 3 year old stays dry at night, but if she has an accident it's usually because we forgot to take her. I personally would try a waterproof pad for awhile before switching back to pull ups since it sounds like your DD really wants to be done with them. I might even set an alarm to get up and take her again during the night. It's better than her waking you up with a wet bed. Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

I am on day 5 of potty training my son. We stop his drinks at 6/6:30 and he goes to bed at 8/8:30. I make sure he pees at least twice before bed. He sleeps in underwear and hasn't had an accident yet. He's two and a half. I sure hope this helps. Let me know if you have advice on poop training;-)



answers from Dallas on

I would try taking her to the potty before YOU go to bed.

K. Voigtsberger



answers from Dallas on

Here's my experience. My daughter wore pull-ups at night until she was 8 - 10 years old, and they were soaking wet almost every night. We went to all the doctors, ran all the tests, tried everything (no drinks after 7:00, bathroom just before going to bed, etc.). The reality was that she was a very heavy sleeper, and she had an "immature" bladder.

I know. Not exactly what you wanted to hear.

I explained it to her like this...

Some people wear glasses because their eyes don't work quite right. Some people wear hearing aids because their ears don't work quite right. Your bladder is not working quite right, and until it does -- which it will - you need to wear pull-ups to help your bladder's problem -- just like people wear glasses and hearing aids to help their eyes and ears. (Also -- this makes it her bladder's problem -- not HER fault -- which was important to my daughter.)

The goal for us was to have five dry nights in a row. If/when she had five dry nights in a row, she could wear panties the next night.

The good news is that, as she started into pre-puberty, the nighttime wetting stopped -- almost literally - overnight.

However, between ages four and eight, we had lots and lots of wet, smelly pull-ups. At home, it was no big deal. I kept a plastic, zippered mattress cover on the mattress, and the trash got emptied a little more frequently :). But for sleepovers, it was more difficult - but do-able. She always wore a nightgown that went to her knees with a pair of knit shorts underneath, and just before she went to bed, she'd go to the bathroom and exchange a pull-up for her panties. We'd pack a few plastic grocery bags in her travel bag, and the next morning, she'd go to the bathroom, take off the wet pull-up, pack it in two plastic bags, wipe off with a wet washcloth, put everything back in the travel bag, put back on her panties, and none's the wiser.

I hope this helps.



answers from Philadelphia on

I am sorry that i did not get a chance to read the others.

If you can take her right before you go to bed (as late as 11 if you can) it will help. Also, someone needs to take her about 6 am. I was very fortunate that i was a late owl and took them at night, and my husband took them first thing when he got up. I don't know if every kid is like this... but, my kids would go right back to sleep in the morning. They were not really awake when daddy would sit them on the potty. It did work though. Eventually they don't need that routine anymore. Hope i helped a little :)

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