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Toilet Training and How It Interacts With Sleep

Children commonly have a “window” between 18 and 30 months when they start to show interest in using the loo or potty training.  It can be helpful to seize this opportunity and start to introduce them to the process. If your child is not ready, then don’t push it. Otherwise, the process will be more challenging for both you and your child. I would recommend that you try again later when your child is ready and enthusiastic to start.

Don’t worry if your child takes a while to train; it is not abnormal to take weeks or months to learn. It can be a challenging process for both children and parents. Try to be patient, supportive and celebrate their achievements.


There are two key factors to keep in mind when it comes to a child’s readiness to staying dry at night. Firstly, a child’s bladder is still growing and they need it to grow big enough to contain an entire night’s production of urine (this can be until the age of 4 or 5). Secondly, his brain needs to learn to react when his bladder is full.

The NHS suggest that bedwetting is only really a problem if it begins to bother you or your child and that it is not usually considered a problem in children under five. After age 5, bedwetting still affects about one in ten children. The reasons for bedwetting are not always easy to understand. Many doctors have found that it often tends to be due to family history, parasomnia (a sleep disorder found in deep sleepers), or sleep apnea. Experts also say that many are simply deep sleepers who have difficulty waking themselves up to go to the toilet.

If you are concerned about your child’s bedwetting, talk to your doctor and rule out any problems. Paediatricians often tell parents of healthy children not to worry much about bedwetting until the child is seven or eight years old and start having sleep over’s at their friends’ houses.

What can you do to help your child?

  • It is best to start potty training during the day and leave the night time to fall into place when your child is ready.
  • Give your child a pull-up until he stays dry during naps and at night for at least 7-10 days in a row.
  • Try to keep your child’s drinking to a minimum 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Make sure they use the potty before going to sleep.
  • If your child does wet the bed, reassure them – It is important for them to know they haven’t done anything wrong, and it will get better.
  • Don’t tell them off or punish them for wetting the bed as this won’t help and could make things worse.

Toilet Training and Sleep

Toilet training is a huge developmental milestone, so like all big milestones, expect temporary changes to your child’s behaviour, temperament, appetite and sleep.

Sleep training can be achievable at the same time as potty training, as long as the child is ready, able and showing interest. A common issue that parents have with newly potty trained children, is that they start to use the potty as a bedtime stalling tactic. You need to make it clear to your child that they can have one and only one last potty time before bed. Guide them to the potty or toilet and try to have as little interaction with them as possible. You want to make it boring for them, so that they have less interest in going again. Some parents find that it helps to stand in the hallway whilst their child goes to toilet. You can experiment with different tactics and work out what is best for you and your child.

For more information I would recommend having a look at: – They are a charity for families affected by bedwetting. Their website has useful advice for both children and parents.

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