How to nighttime potty train: 10 tips to succeed

Updated Apr 22, 2024
dream pee - how to potty train overnight

If you’re like most people, you probably get a little more tired at just the thought of nighttime potty training. But the fact is, most kids are ready for nighttime potty training way before their parents realize it! And while it may take a little extra work in the beginning, I promise, it will be well worth it in the long run.


Why does my potty-trained child wet the bed at night?

Is my child ready for nighttime potty training?

What age is recommended to stop using diapers at night?

Nighttime potty training by age group

10 overnight potty training tips

When to see a doctor


Nighttime potty training FAQ

In order for a child to remain dry during overnight sleep, there are a lot of factors that need to align. A portion of this is purely developmental, while a portion of it can be learned. As we get older and our bodies mature, we begin producing more of a hormone known as ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) which causes our bodies to make less urine during sleep. Additionally, once a child begins potty training, they start to achieve better bladder control, are able to consolidate their urine, and learn urge awareness which all can contribute to the ability to stay dry while sleeping. 

Many parents choose to keep their children in diapers or pull-ups for nighttime sleep until they start to wake up dry. However research [1] shows that the earlier nighttime toilet training is initiated, the sooner a child will attain nighttime continence. Another study [2] was able to prove that disposable diapers may prolong the potty training process and lead to more accidents. In order for a child to wake up and use the potty if they feel the urge in the night, they first need to nurture a neurological connection between their brain and their bladder. Diapers and pull-ups are so absorbent that a child likely doesn’t even feel that they have peed during sleep. Therefore, for children who continue to have wet nights even well after they are consistent with daytime potty use, it could be in their best interest to remove diapers and pullups and implement some simple training techniques.

Several things would indicate a child is ready for nighttime potty training. Here are some possibilities:

  • Your child has been using the potty during the day consistently with minimal accidents for a minimum of 6 months

  • Your child is not peeing overnight

  • Your child stays dry for naps

  • Your child waits until early morning to wet the bed/diaper/pull-up

  • Your child wants to wear underwear to bed

  • Your child takes off their diaper/pull-up by themselves in the morning

  • Your child doesn’t need to urinate upon waking (indicating they’ve already gone in their nighttime diaper)

  • Your child is beyond the age of 4 years old

If your child exhibits one or more of these signs, it could be a good time to think about starting nighttime potty training!

Every child develops differently so there is no clear-cut age in which nighttime diapers should be removed across the board. Kids who struggle with certain disabilities, developmental delays, or even constipation or deep sleep may not be able to sleep without diapers for months or years after they are daytime potty trained. 

In many cases, you can at least attempt nighttime potty training at the same time you begin potty training your child during the day - many parents are pleasantly surprised by their child’s capability to stay dry through the night shortly after saying goodbye to diapers. However, this is a very personal choice and sleep should be prioritized over potty training, so it is also perfectly acceptable to begin nighttime potty training after your child has been potty trained during the day for several months, as long as the continued use of sleep diapers isn’t adding confusion or complication to their daytime potty progress.

Based on your child’s age, certain recommendations apply more than others. Reference this handy chart to see which of our following 10 tips apply based on how old your child is.

Age groupTip number to reference
2 - 3 years oldAll
4 years old1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
5 - 7 years old4,5,6,8,9,10
7 years old+4,5,8,9,10

Here are some of my favorite tips to help get your little one to ditch those nighttime diapers:

Starting any time, go into your child’s room about 20 minutes before they would normally wake up and feel their diaper to see how wet it is. Make a mental note – is it fully saturated, is it somewhat dry, or completely dry? Do this over about a week and take an average of the results. Many kids are actually staying dry the entire night and waiting to wet their diaper before they get out of bed in the morning out of comfort/habit.

If your child wakes up dry or mostly dry, congratulations! You don’t need any active training. Just make the switch to underwear whenever you and your little one are ready. If the diapers are mostly saturated, that’s okay too! You may just need a more hands-on training approach to get the job done.

A big part of staying dry overnight involves creating a neurological connection between the bladder and the brain. When the bladder is full, it should send a signal to the brain that it needs to empty. This can be more challenging for a child to respond to when they are asleep, but it can be learned! Sleeping bottomless will help your child be more aware of accidents when they occur and can trigger them to wake up.

To preserve everyone’s sleep as much as possible, you want quick and easy access to the

potty. Either have a potty chair in your child’s room, especially if they are still in a crib or make sure they are able to get to the nearest bathroom on their own. Either option should be lit with a nightlight, just enough to see, but not enough to fully wake your child up. Keeping a potty near the bed makes it easier for your child to get right back to bed after a potty visit at night.

In order to set your child up for success, it can be helpful to limit the amount of fluids that they are having about 2 hours before bedtime. A good rule of thumb is to not allow more than 4 ounces between dinner and sleep. For a bladder to stay healthy, it needs to be hydrated. So take care to not deprive fluids too much or it could actually end up resulting in more accidents!

Having your child pee two times within 30 minutes of going to sleep can help ensure their bladder is as empty as possible before they get in bed. Try a potty visit at the beginning of their bedtime routine, before taking a bath for example, and then again as the last thing they do before crawling into bed. 

Sleeping without diapers is likely something your child has never experienced before. To help them feel more comfortable with the transition, it can help to walk them through what using the potty in the night will be like a few times. Have them act out each step of the process so they know what to expect if that urge strikes in the night.

If your child needs the potty at night, they probably won’t feel comfortable getting out of bed to go on their own in the dark. Keep a monitor in their room so they can call for help, especially if they still sleep in a crib.

When removing the nighttime diapers, accidents are inevitable. That said, you’ll want to be sure to take precautions to protect the mattress. To make nighttime bedding changes faster and easier, it can help to layer waterproof mattress pads and/or towels and sheets. That way, when the top layer gets wet, you can remove it and have a dry layer ready to go underneath.

If your child has an accident in the night that wakes them up, be sure to still sit your child on the potty afterward. They may not have fully voided in the bed and you can catch whatever is left in the potty to help strengthen that brain-to-bladder connection.

The most likely time that your child will need to pee is first thing in the morning as their body starts to wake up. To try and prevent their first-morning pee from being an accident in the bed, get them up a few minutes before they normally would, or get them right as they wake up and sit on the potty first thing instead of allowing them to play quietly in their room.

If your child is beyond the age of five years old, has been daytime potty trained for at least one year, and hasn’t seen improvement with staying dry overnight, it could be time to reach out to your child’s doctor. Certain medical conditions such as sleep apnea, ADHD, overactive bladder, or diabetes can be associated with prolonged nighttime bedwetting. However, many doctors will not recommend medical intervention until age 8 - 10.

If your child has been fully potty-trained at night for more than 6 months and suddenly starts wetting the bed, reach out to their doctor as this may also be a sign of a medical issue [3]. If there's a problem that causes sudden bedwetting, also look for other accompanying symptoms that may go along with it like:

  • Pain, burning, or straining while urinating

  • Increased thirst

  • Sudden change in personality or mood

  • Increase in urination frequency

  • Sudden urgency to urinate

  • Daytime and nighttime wetting

  • Continuous dampness

  • Poor bowel control

  • Many children are capable of staying dry overnight well before we realize it! Implementing some simple strategies can help your child stop sleeping in diapers.

  • The use of disposable diapers and pull-ups can potentially hinder nighttime dryness. Removing them allows a child to achieve nighttime continence more quickly.

  • If your child is ready to potty train overnight, try things like limiting fluid before bed, having them use the toilet twice during their bedtime routine, and keeping an easily accessible small potty in their room.

  • Accidents happen! Even after nighttime potty training, it's common for children to wet the bed occasionally. This usually isn't something that needs medical intervention until 8 - 10 years old.

Nighttime potty training FAQ

Q: At what age should a child be fully potty-trained at night?


Generally speaking, most children are capable of staying dry overnight within a few months to one year of using the potty during the daytime reliably. However, without other accompanying medical symptoms, bedwetting is not an issue that will get much attention from your child’s doctor until beyond 8 - 10 years old.

Q: Can toddlers be trained for nighttime potty use?


Absolutely! While there are portions of nighttime dryness that may not be developmentally achievable for some kids until they are older, this does not limit their potential capability to learn how to use the potty in the night if they need to. Eventually, they will be able to sleep the entire night without using the potty at all.

Q: What is the bedwetting regression for potty training?


It is still common for children to have accidents overnight after nighttime potty training, even after they stay dry at night for a number of days or even weeks. These bedwetting regressions, while frustrating, are usually not cause for alarm. However, reach out to their doctor if you have concerns about your child's bedwetting or if they have been potty trained at night for 6 months or longer and suddenly start having accidents again.

Q: Should I wake my child up during the night to use the toilet?


If you have tried the strategies above and have seen some progress, but your child is still having accidents more nights than not, it can help to develop their brain-to-bladder connection by implementing a nighttime potty break. However, it can be challenging to nail down the best timing for this, and I would not recommend trying it before talking to a potty training expert to be sure it makes sense for your situation.

Q: How long does nighttime potty training typically take?


Potty training for nighttime can vary significantly from child to child. Some children may be able to master nighttime dryness within a couple of weeks, while others can take months to a year. It’s important to not set deadlines or go in with unrealistic expectations. As with daytime potty training, nighttime potty training is a process and will take time!

For full details on nighttime potty training, be sure to check out my online course, The Potty Training Survival Guide. If you feel like you need more personalized help with potty training, send me a message at You can view testimonials on my website at Thanks for reading!

Note: The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice from your doctor, pediatrician, or medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a medical professional.

3 Sources


  1. Shei-Dei Yang, S., Zhao, L., & Chang, J. (2011). Early initiation of toilet training for urine was associated with early urinary continence and does not appear to be associated with bladder dysfunction.

  2. Li, X., Wen, J. G., Shen, T., Yang, X. Q., Peng, S. X., Wang, X. Z., Xie, H., Wu, X. D., & Du, Y. K. (2020). Disposable diaper overuse is associated with primary enuresis in children.

  3. American Academy of Pediatrics (2021). Bedwetting: 3 Common Reasons & What Families Can Do.