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?