If there is such a thing…I’ve been wondering that a lot lately. When my daughter was old enough, we took her to the potty every 30 min or so and rewarded her whenever she went tinkle or poo in it…worked like a charm. She is dry all day long, no trouble there really, whatsoever. What is kind of irritating now is, she still wears a Pull-up at night, and even more kind of irritating is, now she wakes me or my husband up every night, sometimes 3 times a night to help her change her undies or to “snuggle.”

The weird thing is, she is often perfectly dry when she comes to wake us up, but sometimes her pull-up is completely full. So, I did some research, as all Moms do, and found various strategies for nighttime potty training.

What the Diapers Want You to Think

On the GoodNites diaper site, they have the kindest, sweetest-sounding child psychologists saying that bed wetting is perfectly normal, there’s nothing parents can really do, and it is just a matter of handling the wetness (no surprise there since they are advertising for nighttime diapers). Yet, other sites claim that nighttime undies prolong the process of making the connection between having to pee and waking up.

Other Research

Another site said to limit fluids after dinner, to put on thicker underwear and an absorbent pad on the bed, wake the child just before the parent’s bedtime to go potty, and then again around 6 or 7 am to avoid wetting…this just sounds like a lot of work and a lot of waking a sleeping child….and Mama. This site promised that it would only take a week or so of doing this for the child to make the connection mentally and physically when he/she would have to pee while sleeping. Hmmmm…

Whenever I researched amongst other mothers, I found that nearly every 4-year-old goes through this “waking Mom and Dad” stage, and some people even put a little bed or pallet in their room so child in question can sleep there rather than waking up mom or dad to snuggle. What I can’t help but wonder is, if the precedent is set that your child can now sleep in your room anytime, how do you make it stop?

A Connection?

I know I’ve interlaced a couple issues here, but it seems like the two are connected. I wonder if my daughter is ready to sleep without Pull-ups, but sometimes has accidents, or has regressed slightly because of other developmental milestones. Or maybe she has figured out that if she pees in her undies, she has a reason to wake us up? We’ve definitely been having lots of conversations about having dry undies and not waking us up, and have even created a reward chart for it.

Here is my plan:

She stays in Pull-ups until she gets a week’s worth of dryness; at that point we have a conversation about how awesome it is to sleep in big girl undies; we try the thicker big girl undies (Gerber makes these) and a nighttime absorbent pad in her bed, with extra sheets and blankets ready. We limit fluids after dinner and take her potty around 10:30 or 11 and early in the morning and just see how it goes.

As far as waking up to “snuggle,” we continue giving her all the tools and strategies she needs for various events that occur at night and have many positive, praiseful conversations about not waking up Mommy and Daddy, and when she does wake us up, we help her with whatever she needs, and lead her back to bed, uneventfully.

Last Resort

Sadly, several mom friends have told me that this phase can last a while; I wish I could understand what my daughter is going through so that I could do exactly what she needs. As a last resort, we do have a sleeping bag we could provide for her to sleep on in our room, but I don’t want that to turn into a habit. I’m hoping these strategies will work so we can all get the precious sleep that we need, and so we don’t have to keep buying pull-ups.

What are your strategies for nighttime wakings?



Erin Ellis
Erin owns Events by Erin, a custom event planning business and co-owns Ellis Designs LLC, a custom woodworking business with her husband, John Ellis. Together, their greatest design is their wonderful daughter, Elizabeth. Erin is an Austin native and graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a degree in English. She lives in Round Rock, enjoys running, going to the movies and the beach, and of course, writing for Austin Moms Blog!


  1. Check out the book, Oh Crap Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki. She has a section on night time training. I gravitated towards this book to potty training my two year old boy because what she said made sense. I followed her technique and it worked. According to her night training will take longer than day training because they are sleeping and have to learn to hold their pee a lot longer and wake up (initially with the help of a parent) to go pee. They also need to feel the sensation of being wet and diapers or pull ups whisk any wet feeling away. Glowacki also has a blog with some great pod casts posted there too.

  2. Awesome! Thank you for the tip! We have actually had some luck since reinstating nap time during the day over the summer. Also, we have been taking her potty right before we go to bed, like around 10:30pm or 11:00pm. So far, just one accident when we forgot to take her potty before we went to bed, but she hasn’t worn pull-ups all summer! I call that a win!


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