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Tips for Night Time Potty Training Success

Potty training can be a struggle. And it teaches us that all kids are different. One might be completely out of diapers at the age of 2. The next is still wearing diapers at 3, giving no sign they are ready.

And some kids who are completely fine during the day can lose that control at night. Parenting a child who wets the bed is extremely frustrating. Being the kid who wets the bed is a nightmare! Waking up in a cold, wet bed is unpleasant. Waking your mom in the middle of the night? Scary! And sleepovers? Forget about it! 

Even Movie Stars Struggle

Even movie stars can struggle with night time potty training. Have you seen Kristen Bell talking about her 5-year-old still wearing diapers? Turns out it's a night time problem - and one that many other families share.

Often the cause is simply developmental - and more time and a little bit of help is needed so the whole family can sleep peacefully. Here are some common bedwetting causes. And tips for dealing when your child is taking a little longer to stay night time dry.

Some Kids Have Small Bladders

It sounds obvious - and it's true. Some kids' bladders just hold less urine. So their bladder fills more quickly at night, sometimes leading to an involuntary release. For these kids, it's a good idea to limit liquids after dinner. Some parents wake their child and bring them to the bathroom before going to bed. This can reduce the number of nighttime accidents. Over time this problem usually resolves as the child grows.

Slow Neurological Connections

In some children, the neurological connection between bladder and brain takes a bit longer to develop. So these kids don't receive the signal to wake up when it's time to go. Time should resolve this, and limiting liquids before bedtime should help.

Some Kids are Really Sound Sleepers

Some kids sleep so soundly that it disrupts the bladder/brain communication. Their bladder empties when it's full. Many parents have had success with alarms that wake their child at the first release of urine. This requires the active participation of a parent to make sure the child wakes and uses the bathroom. Over time, they learn to associate the alarm with the wetness and wake up in time to avoid a wet bed.


Yep, there's a genetic component. If one parent wet the bed after 5 years old, then their child is about 40% more likely to have the same problem. And if both parents wet the bed as children, that percentage increases to 70%.  

Sometimes There's a Medical Reason

If you suspect any of these medical reasons could be the cause, it's best to have your child see the pediatrician as soon as possible.


Type 1 Diabetes causes sugar to be eliminated due to a lack of insulin. This results in excess urine production - and bed wetting can be one of the first symptoms. 


A full bowel can put pressure on the bladder and result in night-time accidents.


Our bodies produce a hormone that reduces urine production at night. Some kids don't have enough of this hormone, or the kidneys aren't responding - so they produce too much urine. Reducing liquids after dinner can help with this - and there are medications which can also help.

Sleep Apnea

Snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, which can interrupt sleep patterns, which can sometimes cause bedwetting.

Getting Help

Some kids just take longer to stay dry at night. Wearing pull-ups or training underwear can help until they are physically ready for night time control. But if they reach the age of 7 and are still wetting the bed, it's a good idea to see your pediatrician.

And if your child was keeping dry at night and then starts wetting the bed, definitely schedule an appointment with your child's doctor.

Of course, if you are at all concerned about your child's development in the potty training arena, it's a good idea to discuss your concerns with a pediatrician. 

For more information about potty training in general, read our blog post How to Set Up Your Potty Training Toddler for Success with Underwear.