Potty Training question...what to Do at Night and a Few Other Questions

Updated on June 09, 2011
R.D. asks from Haysville, KS
5 answers

My DD has acted interested in the potty for a few months now. The problem was that with both my husband and I working, I wanted to wait until summer (I'm a teacher) to actually train her. She would basically just mimic me...anytime I had to go, so did she (just so she could get tp and flush haha!) There were a few times when she would just say, I need to go potty...walk to her potty, take off her diaper, sit down and go.
BTW....DD just turned 26 months
So, I was thinking that maybe potty training won't be so bad. And so far, it hasn't. Yesterday was our first day and she refused to drink anything ALL DAY LONG!!! When she did go, it was always on the floor (of course I caught her in the act...I've been clinging to her nonstop which she hates!) so we ran to the bathroom and she would sit for a few minutes. Last night she drank two or three cups of water and milk right before bed so I just put her in a diaper for sleep.
We started the process again today. The first two times...on the floor. After that it has been getting better every time. She either says "uh-oh". Or she says, "mom I'll be right back and goes in. When I try to follow her she says no stay out and does her business. The problem is that when she goes, she is missing the potty. The last two times I readjusted her so she was sitting back further and that helped. Is that just what the problem is? She is using a little potty chair.
Here's my main question (man, I'm always so wordy sorry!!)
Even though every time she has told me she needs to go and holds it until we get into the bathroom, she always has a bit of an accident. It seems like she starts to pee, realizes it, so stops to hold it and then goes in the potty. Hopefully this makes sense. It's not enough to run down her leg or get on the carpet or anything. I just notice that her underwear is a little wet. Is this normal? I'm assuming it is and in time she will learn what her body is doing and stop it beforehand. Anything I need to try and do to help her out?
Also...yesterday she didn't poop at all (no biggie) Today she has only popped once and it was in her underwear. How do I get her to make sure she doesn't do that?
One more thing :) The 3 day method suggests doing night at the same time. DD is still in a crib, and I guess I'm just not sure about this one. The book says that at this age they should be waking up dry, but she always has water right before bed to help her go to sleep. I know I need to wean her off but I hate to just take it away at the same time we are doing this. Should I just continue to put her in overnights for now? What about naps?
Hopefully I'll get some answers from you wonderful moms :) Thanks!

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answers from Omaha on

I think the dribbles will go away with time and learning her body and the way it feels when she needs to go potty. No worries there.

Pooping usually comes after learning to pee in the potty. Just clean it up by putting in the potty and remember each day is a new opportunity. I wouldn't make a big deal of it.

As for overnight, I am a firm believer that it is not an issue of training--it's physiological. When her body is ready, then she will be ready; no training. My daughter was daytime potty trained at 25 months. I kept her in pull ups at night until she consistently woke up dry and then we switched to panties at night. She was 37 months. No stress for either of us. We did practice some muscle memory routines but I did not make an effort to wake her at night. We ensured that she went potty right before bed and as soon as she woke in the morning. We would practice "potty drills" by having her lie down in bed and cover up... then practice getting out of bed on her own, walking to the bathroom, going potty, and going back to bed--but that was purely for the muscle memory. We also talked about getting up and going potty during the night if she needed to, but we never woke her. When she had a week of dry pull ups in the morning, we switched to panties and never looked back. She's only had 2 accidents since and we didn't lose any sleep or stress during the process. It may not work for everyone but that's what worked for us.


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answers from Phoenix on

I have a couple comments. First, you have to make a huge big deal when she goes. Like clapping and everything like she just won the super bowl or something. Also, keep m&m's in a clear jar in the bathroom and give her 2 everytime she goes. When she starts going #2, she can have FIVE! I never used the little kid potty chairs because you have to retrain them on the big toilet so you basically are training them twice! So get the padded kid seat that fits over the big seat, that will probably be easier. Also, NO water or milk an hour or more before bed time. My other suggestion is DO NOT switch back and forth from diapers to pullups to underwear to pullups again. they go straight from diapers to full time in pull ups. When they are mostly dry in pullups (day AND night) then they go in underwear but make sure they are going to stay in underwear, its too hard for them to get it when you are switching them back and forth. I hope this helps. My daughter was potty trained VERY fast at 18 months. Good luck.

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answers from Portland on

Here's a really helpful site that gives some great "readiness" checklists, plus the skinny on the various approaches to potty-training, their advantages and challenges. It's fantastic that you've got a daughter who's willing to sit on the potty and has some success with it. But based on what you describe, I wonder whether she is ready for success yet. See if you can find your situation here: http://www.parentingscience.com/toilet-training-readiness...

Potty training is ultimately a process that the child must control, or else she's not trained. A number of factors are needed for potty training to succeed: the child must be able to notice and recognize the urge before it happens, she must have adequate sphincter control and the ability to hold it long enough to get to the potty, she must understand the point of training, and she must want to be trained. She must connect with the body sensations that indicate complete voiding. It sounds like at least one or two of these is still missing for your sweetie.

It's helpful to know that night training is a whole separate step for many children, and can lag a year (or several) behind day training – although some kids stay dry all night even before they're day trained. But for many children, their sleep is too heavy for the full-bladder signal to get through, and/or the sphincter isn't strong enough to hold a full bladder. They really are not doing this on purpose, and many of them are horrified and ashamed of not being able to stay dry through the night.

Poop training is often a whole separate step for some kids, too. A few succeed earlier with pooping in the potty. Many figure it out later. It's a whole different set of sensations, generally more effortful, and some kids equate it with losing a piece of their bodies, which can be frightening.

Sometimes rewards work in the short run if only motivation is lacking. But that introduces the very real possibility that rewards/bribes will need to escalate to keep him motivated, and that is a mistake that you will seriously regret someday.

So, what I would suggest is that, as hard as this will be, you drop your expectations about "training." Tell your daughter you are proud of how well she's growing up, and express your confidence that she will use the potty when she's ready. And she will (it sounds like your daughter is getting close to ready). If they haven't become discouraged by weeks or months of failure, kids WANT to make this developmental step when they're able, just as they want to walk and talk when they're able. Your daughter will probably need some "space" to work it through for herself – to focus on her sensations, on cause and effect, and not on mommy's eagerness or possible rewards. Or she may need a few more weeks or months.

Almost all of the kids I've known who trained the fastest, often in a day or a few days, simply arrived at that point themselves, and when they expressed interest, their parents acted as "assistants" or "facilitators" rather than "teachers" or "trainers." There's a wide range of ages when this can happen, but it's usually somewhere between 24 and 40 months (usually on the earlier end of the spectrum for girls).

Meanwhile, you can continue to make all your messages about using the bathroom as positive as possible. That can include modeling how easy/quick it is for you or Daddy, reading potty books or watching potty videos, having his toys/stuffed animals role-play pottying, and in general making a game of it. With my grandson, once he could do it but didn't want to take the time, I would go into the bathroom and begin noisily ejecting all the dinosaurs that were crowding the room and sitting all over the toilet seat. My grandson couldn't resist that game, and would come in and help me wrestle the beasts, and claim his spot on the toilet.

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answers from Phoenix on

Hello! My oldest daughter will be 3 in October and she just potty trained in April. Before that, it was touch and go as far as having accidents, etc. Then in April, one day she was just ready, and has hardly had an accident since then. Maybe take a break and revisit again in a couple of weeks or a month? My little one is in big girl underwear all day, except I still put her in a pull up for nap and at night time. She is still so young, not even 3 years old, so I think it's normal not to be able to hold it all night long. Most mornings she wakes up dry, but it's hit or miss. She is also still in a crib and in day care full time during the week. Pooping has definitely been harder for us - she has had more poop accidents in her pants than pp ones. Even if you do the 3 day method, they are still just babies and there are going to be accidents. :) Hang in there - sounds like she is doing great!


answers from St. Louis on

The little accident before she has to go is normal and part of it. She will get a better feel for a full bladder soon and this will go away.

As far as sitting on the little potty I'm not sure we didn't have that problem, but we did always have books in the bathroom for ours to look at when having to go potty.

Water weaning, start slowly and put less and less in the bottle/cup every night/nap time and do it gradually. This should help. If she drinks just a little bit to fall asleep that shouldn't hurt anything. I would stick with the pull-ups for a little bit, but if you stay with them too long they will hinder her and she will rely on them at night. Mine will tell you he is just being lazy and didn't want to get up. Once I heard that bye bye pull-ups. Now if he wets the bed he sleeps in a wet bed until he gets up and hollars for us. We are having less and less accidents all the time.

Best of luck. This is always a challenge for most of us.

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