Potty Training Wars: The Non-Night-Trained Kid Who Won’t Wear a Pull-Up

Hi there,

Love everything about your blog and still read almost every one even if it’s utterly unrelated to me.

I’m wondering if you can help. Our son is 3.5ish, toilet-trained during the day (actively asking etc), and got there through his own want to be dry and a few treats.

But now it’s nighttime. He shows almost no signs of being dry at night and that’s cool with us, I get it’s a physiological thing and his body has to be ready etc. BUT. It’s not fine with him. He is now flat out refusing to wear a pull-up pant (or short short short term savior from the rejection of diapers), complete with uncharacteristic tantrums. He’s absolutely not ready to be dry at night, even if I do no liquids for an hour before bed, two pees before bed, get him out of bed for a pee at like 11, he will still wake up having peed in the night at around 4am.

So I guess my question is, is there anything we can do to give him a helping hand and/or get him to accept that he’s just not ready yet (we explain that his body isn’t ready, there’s no shaming or anything like that, we avoid big boy/baby talk)? How long should we try with nighttime training if we’re seeing no dryness? Can we help him get dry quicker?

Help! Please!
Endlessly Washing Laundry

Well, giving my own experience at JUST HOW EASY IT IS to “reason” with a 3.5 year old, I don’t know how much success you’ll get with the “hey it’s okay to wear a pull-up at night” pep talk. I mean, you can certainly TRY, and you’ve certainly got the right script in mind, and maybe over time (and with enough flat-footed insistence that no, we’re not dealing with wet sheets at 4 a.m) you’ll win this particular battle of wills.

But again. He’s 3.5. God help us all.

What about getting him an alarm clock to see if you can catch that middle-of-the-night/super-early-morning pee that way? Try setting it for 3:45 a.m. or so, and he can get himself out of bed and onto the potty himself. Then adjust the alarm forwards or backwards until you find the sweet spot of maximum sleep and dry morning sheets. (Maybe leave a little treat for him in the bathroom as an extra motivation for getting out of bed.) They make specialty “bedwetting alarms” as well but 1) I have no experience with them and thus have no idea if they work, and 2) that might be a little overkill given his age and the fact that he could literally hit the stay-dry-at-night-milestone any day now. Given his motivation level, I’d opt for a regular alarm and see how that goes.

Another option is cloth nighttime waterproof/training pants that look and feel more like underwear, and that might not have the same connotation/association for him as a disposable pull-up or diaper? (Assuming that’s what you were using, otherwise, hahaha I’ve been outsmarted by a 3.5 year old AGAIN.) Amazon sells a variety of nighttime underwear/waterproof training pants — a lot of which are aimed at older bedwetters so they really do look like “real” underwear to eliminate the embarrassment aspect. Etsy is another good shopping resource for all thing cloth diapers/training pants and you might find someone who can MacGuyver up a few pairs of waterproof pants that look just like what he wears during the day.

Good luck! Hopefully his body will decide to cooperate with his desire to stay dry at night soon — it’s impossible to predict, alas, and every kid gets there at their own pace.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply