The do's and don'ts of overnight potty training

Do’s and Don’ts of Overnight Potty Training

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Welcome to the world of potty training, specifically overnight potty training. The one as parents we dread getting accomplished. We may have finally accomplished potty training yeah!

However, we forgot the oh-so-messy nighttime stuff. So for those who are struggling with this task, I completely understand. I am a mom of two sons, one is 5 and the other is 4. No matter how many potty training classes I took to help with their transition, both potty trained so differently. It didn’t matter what techniques I used because it all depends on the child and their comfortability with the process.

My 5-year-old potty trained really early but still struggles with overnight potty training, while my youngest took longer to potty train, however, had no issues with overnight potty training whatsoever. When potty training always remember that each child is unique in their own way.

Experts also agree that overnight potty training is based on a child’s physical development, while daytime potty training is mostly behavior-related. Also, boys are twice as likely to have a problem than girls are.

So if you have boys, I can totally relate to you. So here are some tips that I have discovered along the way while training both of my boys during the overnight process.

Have you also found any ideas that you could share? Please feel free to add to my list, or ask your questions or concerns below. I would be happy to help you!

“Here are the do’s and dont’s of overnight potty training that are helpful during the process.”


1. Do have an open expectation that not everything will go perfectly according to your plans but adjust as you go. Children are different and may require more flexibility when it comes to potty training. Also, potty training in each child is unique, therefore do not compare one’s progress to another in any way. It can sometimes leave you frustrated or disappointed.

Each child is different and will respond based on their readiness to potty train. Eventually, they will grow out of this stage, so take the time needed to help your child along the way and be very patient in the process.

2. Do order nighttime bed pads to ease into the nighttime routine. I like the idea of bed pads over the use of pull-up diapers at night because it enables your child to become comfortable with being without diapers. The bed pads will also prevent you from having to change everything each time an accident occurs. You can order the disposables.

Another alternative is to also get washable bed pads. If you do get the washables, be sure to order more than just one. I recommend having at least 3 or more depending on the frequency of bedwetting rotated regularly to reduce the washing load that you may have.

3. Do allow your child to use the potty and fully empty their bladder before going to bed as this will reduce the tendency to pee overnight as a result of less restricted bowel movement. That would include both peeing and pooping to fully empty their bladder. According to potty training experts, the more empty the bladder, the more successful the tendency to not pee overnight.

4. Do allow your child to frequently urinate throughout the day preferably every 2 to 3 hours just to get as much liquid removed before bedtime. Frequent urination throughout the day can definitely help with the transition in the night. They can also drink as much liquid as needed throughout the day, but then start to taper off liquid intake as they get closer to bedtime.

5. Do reduce activities before bed to allow for a better transition to sleep overnight. I have observed in both my children that the more activity they did before bed the more frequent the bed wettings. Be very careful of screen time with highly engaging activity, especially before bedtime and just facilitate a more calming nighttime routine of maybe bathtime and reading a book etc. to help with the transition.

6. Do have a consistent sleep schedule. I am a huge fanatic of routine in children especially during the potty training process because it helps them to transition so well between daytime activities and nighttime. Children thrive more with routine in their day than just spontaneous moments.

This is no different when it comes to bedtime and potty training overnight. Routine bedtime helps to allow a better transition for sleeping in kids and also reduces any frustration or fussiness when there is a lack of sleep.

7. Do ensure that your child is comfortable throughout the night. I have found in my observation that in the colder months, there is more bedwetting than in the warmer months. Our bodies produce more urine in the colder months because there is less water loss through sweating etc. than in warmer months.

Therefore do make sure that the sleeping environment is not too cold but comfortable enough during sleeping time. In colder months you may have to provide more heating, especially in your child’s room.

8. Do praise or reward your child for successful dry nights of potty training (yeah!). Kids love positive feedback, especially when transitioning through different milestones. Do have fun and exciting conversations about their success each night and try not to be negative when they do have a mishap.

Talk about how they feel each time they have a mishap to kind of regulate what may have happened that particular night and then make adjustments if needed.


1. Do not use pull-ups as we are transitioning out of reliance on them at bedtime. You may or may not use underwear depending on your comfort level. Some parents choose to go bare, as it is of the belief that the child’s awareness of not having anything on will lessen the potty accidents that occur.

I prefer to use underwear than go bare-naked because it is just a transition for them to feel like they are big kids now. The preference is however yours.

2. Do not allow liquids post the 2-hour cutoff before bedtime if you can. Some kids are fussy and tend to want milk or water before bed. Just for the nighttime training try to avoid it as much as possible. If not possible then reduce the amount of liquid usually given.

But be aware that you may have more overnight mishaps. This is however ok if it’s just once in a while. They will eventually get comfortable enough when they are older to get up and go to the bathroom on their own. Until then, do your best.

3. Do not give your child bladder irritants such as caffeine, chocolate milk, cocoa, red dye, and artificial sweeteners. According to potty training experts, these will irritate a child’s bladder and interfere with feeling the urge to urinate especially overnight.

4. Do not wake up your child in the middle of the night. I have done this before and to be honest was not only frustrating for my sons, but also for me and my husband trying to get our sons to the bathroom to pee. My eldest son is a deep sleeper and usually, it takes a longer time to get him up and to the bathroom to pee before he does.

My youngest, however, even though we got him to the restroom, does not pee at all, no matter how much we try to wake him. I think it’s the most frustrating thing to do to our kids, so I recommend skipping this process altogether. Let your kids sleep peacefully throughout the night. It is so much better for them and you.

5. Do not get frustrated with accidents that will happen once you start the process. It will take some time depending on your child’s comfortability and adaptation to getting it done. Some kids progress quicker to overnight dryness while for others it will take numerous accidents to transition completely.

So be patient with the process and the progress as each child is different. You can still use your overnight pads even after the transition is completed because yes accidents periodically will happen even after you have gained success with the process.

6. Do not panic if your child has an unexpected bowel movement because yes it may happen overnight too. Just be prepared if it does and do not panic. It is completely normal. Perfection is not expected here.

Overall I do hope that these tips and tricks will help you to overcome the overnight potty training routine.

Hope you find it helpful. If you do need additional help with daytime potty training please read my blog on the Do’s and Don’ts of Potty Training. Or if you may need help with bedtime routine read my blog on Fostering healthy sleeping habits in children.

Here is a FREE TASK CHECKLIST download that you and your child can use to help track the process for overnight potty training success. (It can also be used to track other activities such as bedtime, reading time, etc. by writing the activity in the columns below).

Free task checklist


Did you find the strategies listed in this article helpful? What were some of your favorite tips? How have they worked for you? Leave a comment below, I’d love to know what you think.

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I am Donae! A wife and a mom of 2 kids, ALL boys! I would love to share with you my experience with motherhood. Let my life Inspire, Encourage and Motivate you on your journey through motherhood.

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