Night training

Our then-four-year old (almost five) still needed a diaper at night, despite having been mostly day-trained since ze was 2.  (We still get the occasional accident in conjunction with a growth spurt… I imagine these will continue.)

Every morning the cloth diaper or pull-up or diaper would be heavy and soaking.  DC would toss if disposable or put into the laundry if cloth.  (This was a bit annoying to me because prior to ending cosleeping DC was completely night trained– never ever peed when asleep from birth to almost age 3!  Always peed first thing upon waking up.  But moving to hir own bed seems to have granted deeper sleep.)

The bulk of the internet says it is impossible to night train.  The bladder will get big enough one day.  But maybe use cloth diapers so ze feels wet.  When diapers are no longer wet, you switch to underpants.  For those with bed-wetting which is different from not yet being night trained there are fancy devices that ring when the bed gets wet, but in general, the recommendation is just to wait.  The other part of the internet suggests limiting water for several hours before bedtime and waking them up at midnight to drain.  I don’t like the limiting water part because I wake up thirsty, and figure DC shouldn’t be kept from listening to hir thirst.

One of my colleagues said they’d been in the same situation and she just put them in underpants and within a couple weeks her kids were night-trained.

So we told DC we’d be trying an experiment over winter break, and it might work or it might not work.  We went to Target and picked out new sheets and new mattress pads and a pack of those plastic pads for the incontinent.  We explained that DC should tell us if ze had an accident and we’d change the sheets etc.  We moved hir water bottle to the bathroom to make sure if ze got up to drink ze also drained (ze was not happy about this change after the first night).   For the first few nights DH did night wake-ups.  It didn’t seem to make a difference, was killing DH, and caused some bizarre screaming from DC who apparently reacts the same way as hir mommy to unexpected wake-ups.  So we stopped that part.

Night 1 there were two major accidents.  DC told us.  We thanked hir profusely for telling us.

Over the next couple of weeks we alternated between big accidents and just slightly damp underpants, as if ze peed a little bit and then realized and stopped.  Occasionally DC told us proudly ze had gone to the restroom.

And then no more accidents (watch!  Ze will have one tonight!  Because, as our department secretary says, “they’ll make you a liar every time.”)

Would ze have trained on hir own in those two weeks without changing to underpants (the true counterfactual)?  I’m skeptical.  It seems more to me that hir body gradually learned to avoid having accidents and having to wake up in a wet bed in a way that having a wet diaper never bothered hir.  Even if the internet disagrees.

So I dunno, I think my colleague was right.  Sometimes you just need to try something and it will work out.

Have you ever just tried something and it worked out?

21 Responses to “Night training”

  1. Prof-like Substance Says:

    We did something similar for potty training (day time). A friend had mentioned that they had finally gotten over the hump by spending a weekend at home where they simply left pants off their child. Something about not being covered made the child think about peeing more – I don’t recall the explanation – but we tried it. On day one we had one accident and day two no accidents. We went out and let her pick out new underwear at the store that she was excited about and from then on she was pretty much good.

    We kept night diapers on for a bit, but they were always dry so we just decided to get rid of that too after a couple weeks. In the last two years we’ve been lucky enough to only have one minor accident at night and a handful during the day. I’m sure the second child will drench our lives in urine, just to make up for it.

  2. Cloud Says:

    Pumpkin’s night training was so much easier than the “main” potty training. We had been putting underwear over her pullups for a while (at her request). And then one night she asked us to leave off the pull up. We were nervous, and having not prepared for this at all had no waterproof pad or anything to put down. So we put a towel under her and hoped for the best. And she has never had an accident. (Like you say- tonight will probably be our first one! But it has been a year and a half or so.)

    So I know NOTHING about night training, since we got so lucky in that regard. We’ll see what Petunia does! But I suspect that sometimes a kid is physically able to be dry overnight, but needs a nudge to realize that. Which sounds a lot like night training to me!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      It was so weird because I swear DC was *born* night-trained. But once we stopped cosleeping ze must have started sleeping deeper or something. We went from night trained but not day trained to the reverse!

  3. bogart Says:

    Yes, I have sometimes tried something that just worked. One example that springs to mind is that DC used a pacifier way longer than most kids do (3+), slept with it, etc. Though some other caregivers (daycare, granny) took it away (and that was accepted by DC in those locales) we generally just tolerated/allowed it. Then for about 3 nights in a row DC woke about every hour unable to find the darned thing and needing our help to find it so he could fall back asleep (previously this had been an only occasional issue). At that point DH and I discussed together, bleary-eyed, and we told him he was old enough not to need one, that we needed to “recycle” them (familiar concept) so younger babies could have some (obviously we did not really do this with used pacifiers, but this was how we presented it) and that was that.

    And it was. He mentioned literally just one time that he no longer had pacifiers because they had been recycled to babies, never mentioned it, never asked for it, fell right to sleep. It was a tad freaky.

    As for night training, we used the diaper longer at night than during the day and then quit once it was dry — still fairly young (3?). I’ve lucked into a kid with a bladder the size of New Jersey, apparently. As far as I can tell — I don’t really monitor — he pees sometime after getting up, around lunchtime, around suppertime, and before bed. That is it. He will literally get up some mornings, have breakfast, get dressed, and I’ll drive him to preschool and then realized he hasn’t peed since bedtime the night before (I am not kidding). It is bizarre. Though like many small kids he will play and play, insisting he doesn’t need to pee and wiggling like a maniac who desperately does, and then dash off like a startled hare at the last minute. But he also truly can go a long time without peeing.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Us: Are you SURE you don’t have to go potty? Because you’re doing your potty dance.
      DC: No, I’m just dancing!
      Us: …
      DC: *sprints off surprised to potty*

      • bogart Says:

        Oh, yes. I have had that conversation many times, usually through several iterations before the sprinting. DS is stubborn (hard to imagine where he got that from ;) !), but I also wonder if they really don’t at this age make the connection between oh-I-feel-uncomfortable-there and gosh-I-need-to-pee.

  4. mareserinitatis Says:

    Sometimes things work out like that, sometimes not. That never worked for my kids. Both wet the bed at night well into elementary. And I never used training pants as both seemed to break out from wearing them. Just straight underwear once they were day trained (and waterproof mattress pad on the bed). Both are super heavy sleepers, and both felt awfully bad about it. I feel bad about the older boy because, for a while, I made him feel bad about it until my pediatrician told me it was normal. Then, one day, he just stopped. (He was 9, I think.) We had one or two accidents the following month, and nothing after that. Same with younger boy, though he was a bit younger, and I’d learned my lesson not to make him feel bad. (I feel so bad for first-born children. Always the guineau pigs.) In fact, he was the one who kept telling me he was going to stop, and I just tried to tell him it would happen when his body was ready. I’ve also heard that boys tend to do this longer than girls, but not having had girls, I have no frame of reference.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yeah, we were careful to emphasize this was just an experiment. We were going to see if it worked or not.

      • mareserinitatis Says:

        I wish most people viewed kids (and their upbringing) as ‘experiments’. :-) It really surprises me how many people are formulaic in their approach. ‘If only you’d do so-and-so, then your kid wouldn’t wet the bed.’ Or a multitude of other frustrating problems that you deal with as children move through their developmental stages. I don’t know how many times my parents said something along those lines.

        I guess my overall experience is that some things work some of the time, and those things that do work today may not work tomorrow. (I found this was especially true of homeschooling…especially when you have a kid that really seeks out novelty.) I think to be a good parent, one has to be adaptable. But that’s just how it worked out for me. :-)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I can’t help but rub my hands and laugh evilly thinking about this comment. Yessssss…. experrrimentsssss.

  5. Perpetua Says:

    We did the exact same thing. We subscribed to a 3 day potty training method when our Christopher Robin was 2.75 – the key part of the method is to do night and day training at the same time, because what you’re doing is teaching the child how the process/bodily function works (what it feels like to a have a full bladder, when you need to go sit on the potty, etc). We did it and it worked like a charm. For the first couple of weeks he had an occasional night time accident. But for the most part he realized very quickly that he could wake up, go to the potty, and go back to bed (so it’s not that he holds it all night – he’s learned how to recognize he needs to go, even in his sleep, and to get himself to the bathroom). He does this mostly on his own. Now at almost 4 he very, very rarely will have an accident. I’m a big believer in doing both at the same time. (But we’ll see – it might go differently with #2!)

  6. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    All this talk about pee– not so good for a pregnant lady.

  7. MutantSupermodel Says:

    My son was totally night trained, on his own, for months. And then, he wasn’t. From one day to the next, he started peeing the bed. Some nights he doesn’t, some nights he does, and there is no pattern. We make him pee before going to bed and he still does it. Sleeping in his bed he does it. Sleeping in his brother’s bed he does it. So I gave up. Back to diapers at night.

    • bogart Says:

      Yes, I worry I have jinxed myself through my comment above. I have even taken the waterproof cover off DS’s bed because it made the fitted sheet prone to slip off and that was driving me crazy. But obviously I am tempting fate several times over.

      • MutantSupermodel Says:

        That’s the worst feeling in the world. That’s like in the morning when I wake up and it dawns on me– I forgot to put a diaper on Baby! And then it’s a very suspenseful moment until I pat the bed down. Dry gets a happy dance and Wet gets a string of mental curse words.

    • scantee Says:

      Same here. Older son went from rarely having a night accident to having them almost every night to now having them about half of the time. He never went back to diapers because he didn’t want to wear them so we just deal with laundry. One thing I’ve found that works well is to lay down several layers of fleece rather than use wet pads. Its easier to strip off in the middle of the night and covers more of the bed. Fleece remnants are available for cheap at most fabric stores.

      I think in my son’s case he started sleeping more deeply and that’s what precipitated the change. He was and is in underwear so that won’t work for us, unfortunately. I would love to hear what has worked for someone in this situation. You know, something other than time, which is probably the only real solution.

      • MutantSupermodel Says:

        Thanks for the idea of the fleece. I was thinking that once we ran out of this box of diapers, I’d put him back in underwear and deal with the laundry too. I just hate how much it wears out the sheets. The other problem I have is he and his brother share a room and they like to sleep together. And I know his brother won’t want pee in HIS bed. I don’t know if I should work that angle or avoid it.

  8. Meiopic Says:

    Ditto MutantSupermodel! Ours just announced that she didn’t want her “nighttime underwear” and was pretty much night time potty trained for 4 months. And then… she wasn’t – every night she slept through a major wetting episode. We were reticent to put her back into night diapers, but her pediatrician encouraged it – now 6 months later and still waiting. Sigh. I was an inveterate bed wetter and I suppose the apple doesn’t fall far… I figure she probably won’t need night time diapers in college and so when she is ready, fine.

  9. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    Have you ever just tried something and it worked out?

    Many of the most important discoveries we have made in my lab were the outcome of experiments that “will never work”, but we “just tried”.

  10. Grace Says:

    I think the weirdest thing I ever tried was with one of my adopted daughters who has Fetal Alcohol Effects. She was constantly stealing trinkets, hair items, etc. from her older sisters. At one therapist’s suggestion (and feeling stupid about it!) I put a big red “Stop” sign on the inside of the front door. In smaller print, it said “If there is anything in your backpack that does not belong to you, put it in this box.” And of course, there was a box to the side of the door.

    Wouldn’t you know, it actually worked. It got so that if anything was missing, the older kids would wait till morning, then rummage through the box to find their stuff!

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