How I Nighttime Potty Trained My 2-Year-Old

Warning:Overuse of the word “potty” up ahead. If you don’t care at all about potty training (127% understandable), I’ll try to write something more entertaining next time. I’ll catch ya on the flip side.

This week, we reached a major milestone. Be forewarned that this may come across as one of those braggy mom posts, but I’ll try to keep it real, lest it come back and bite me in the booty (my choice of posterior word that I passed along to my children…because it makes me giggle).

Our house is 100% diaper free!

And this isn’t just because I’m a glutton for punishment and especially enjoy laundry.

OK, I’m not going to post photos relevant to this post, because I want my children to speak to me after they see this someday. So, enjoy this post-bathtime goober.

I have this distinct, superstitious urge to knock on wood, just so you know. Olivia, my spunk 2-and-a-half year old, could have an accident any moment, as we’re just out of the diaper stage by the skin of our teeth over here. However, we’ve gone a few nights with no accidents, no late-night potty runs, and no damp sheets.

Why, you ask, are you bragging about this, Mama? Don’t you know how annoying this is?

Yes, actually, I do know how annoying this is. However! I’m writing this to give other mamas-of-youngin’-folks hope! Also, let me declare that I hate potty training. I also didn’t enjoy breastfeeding (though I do think breast is best!), but potty training may outrank it.

When George hit those first potty-training weeks, I decided to chose a system and stick to it. I knew fishing around Pinterest or mom blogs for tips and tricks was only going to confuse and overwhelm me. So, for better or worse (better in our case!), I chose to follow Jamie Glowacki’s Oh Crap! Potty Training handbook. And, yes, I mainly picked it because the title made me chuckle. I’ve mentioned my admiration for this book before.

Side Note: I feel this is the appropriate time to insert the “every kid is unique” disclaimer. Just like your birthing story was completely different than all of your friends’ and over-sharing relatives’ stories, every potty-training story will be different. This also means that this particular method of potty training may not work for your kid. It did work for both of mine. Every kid is different. You can do this. And your kid can do it too.

Today, though, I thought I’d break down the scary, scary monster that is nighttime potty training.

While my kids were getting the hang of no-diaper days, they wore diapers during naps and bedtimes. And, no, there wasn’t any confusion or questioning in their little brains. They were, after all, very small and toddle-y.

Night training doesn’t have to be scary. For those interested, here’s how we went from diapers to commando during those sleeping hours.

  1. Dehydrate your kid. In a healthy way. Obviously.
    1. After lunch and dinner, cut off all liquids (but give her all the liquid she wants the rest of the day).
    2. If she gets whiny, find a tea-party teacup, fill it halfway, and give her a sip. Using a tiny cup makes her feel big.
  2. “Make” her use the potty before bed.
    1. All potty-training parents know they can’t make their child do anything…unfortunately.
    2. Give it your best shot.
  3. Put your kid in pajamas only.
    1. Wearing underwear may remind her brain of diapers, hence promoting accidents.
    2. Accidents are annoying.
    3. I’m assuming there are adults who continue to sleep this way.
  4. Keep a little potty next to her bed.
  5. Double-make her bed.
    1. Take my word for it and invest in a second water-proof mattress pad. Put a pad on, then a sheet. Follow it with a second pad and sheet. That way, if there’s a 2 a.m. accident, you can just peel one layer off and lay your kiddo back down.
    2. Or toss a thick blanket on top of the pee puddle. It’s up to you, really.
    3. Do yourself one of these favors, as you’ll be stumbling around in the dark, half-cognizant.
  6. Brace yourself.
    1. Here’s the plan. When you go to bed, hours (and hours) after your child, slip into your child’s room, gently pick her up, support her standing self–as sleepy children tend to fall over–and help her go to the bathroom in the tiny potty adjacent to her bed.
    2. Do this again a few hours later.
    3. Lament over your lost sleep.
  7. Enjoy the guessing game. (I kid about the “enjoy” part).
    1. Some nights, you’ll get it right, when you go in at 11 p.m., 3 a.m., and 6 a.m.
    2. Other nights, you’ll have just missed it when she pees at 2:45 a.m. and you have to change her pjs. Somehow kids can sleep in pee puddles. No idea.
  8. Slowly ween off the middle-of-the-night wake ups.
    1. Y’all, your guess is as good as mine. With Olivia, I pushed the 3 a.m. wake up to 4 a.m. and got rid of the 6 a.m., hoping she’d hold it until she woke up in the morning. It’s a bit hit-or-miss for a few days, but you’ll get the hang of it.
  9. Cut yourself (and your kid) some slack.
    1. All kids wet the bed. Don’t get upset about it. It sucks. It’s obnoxious. It’s totally real life.
    2. Sometimes it’ll be your fault, and that’s OK too. Sometimes you just need sleep. Sleep-deprived brains do dumb things.

There you go! The magical, nine-step process of how Mama night-trained two kiddos. I do give extra credit to Olivia. George’s potty-training days lasted longer (first child? boy?), but Olivia got through them like a pro. It’s a relief and an accomplishment no matter how long it takes.

I know, I know, I’m just asking for a challenge with kiddo #3. Y’all remind me of this post when that time comes around. It’ll keep me humble.

Currently Reading:
just finished Marie Lu’s Warcross and, frankly adored it. Let me say that it was clearly influenced by Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. That book will forever remain in my favorites list, but Warcross had its own enjoyments. It also has a sequel, much to my delight. I’m now debating starting either Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews or Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. Haven’t decided yet. After Warcross, I’m in a rather YA-ish mood.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Jennifer says:

    Yeah… Been trying to tackle this beast with my almost-four-year-old for about six months, now. When she was two, she used to wake up dry most mornings – but as our son was about to be born, we were not ready to touch potty training. And of course, after a few months, she started waking up wet again. Glad you’ve found an approach that has worked for you; I hope that it sticks!


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