How to gradually wean your child out of a night-time nappy

Posted in Development.

This is one of those posts I hope my son never reads. Sorry, buddy.

He turned five a few months ago and I have been putting off weaning the night-time nappy thing. I know, it seems late. It probably is late, but there you go. It just is. That’s where we got to.

I could list the excuses, like, after the birth of our second it took so long to get our sleep back and I didn’t want to mess with that. But anyway, there we were.

And despite assurances from friends with slightly older kids that we would “get there” – being just over a month away from starting big school, we were keen to really get this box ticked.

So what to do?

Mother helping toddler boy on toilet training - feature

Firstly, don’t panic!

I reached out to Babyology’s mothercraft nurse, Chris Minogue, who told me not to panic.

“Some kids just take longer than others, toilet training is a cognitive thing … give it a try and if you’re still having wet nights, check in with your GP.”

Can’t deny my relief there.

Chris says there are four signs your child is ready for night-time nappy weaning:

  1. Night nappies are getting drier and drier – this is important. If your child is waking with a sodden nappy every morning, they are not yet ready.
  2. Your child has stopped drinking a bottle before bed, and/or
  3. Your child has a late evening drink but is going to the toilet before bed.
  4. Your child is communicating well – there’s a link between speech development and toilet training success.

Babyology’s toilet training expert, Monica Ferrie, also reminds us that: “Unfortunately you can’t ‘train’ a child to be dry at night. Rather, night time wetting is hormone related and is dependent on genetic programming and how deeply your child sleeps. If your child is wetting at night, nappies or pull ups – and time – are the answer.”

Since I was ready to give it a go with my son, Chris advised a bit of staggered approach.

  1. Ask him if he’s ready. Something like: “Hey tonight, shall we try no nappy?” If he’s dead against it, try again the next night. If he’s okay to go, don’t ask again and just fire away.
  2. Limit night-time liquids, and evening too – so that means no big drinks from about 5pm.
  3. Get strict on visiting the toilet before bedtime. Twice sometimes, depending on how long your bedtime routine takes.
  4. Make sure the nappy is dry for three nights in a row.
  5. Head to bed without a nappy.
  6. Voila!

Here’s what really happened …

It took us eight weeks before we moved past step 4 because every time we asked Harry to try and go to bed without a nappy, he kept saying “no”. Keen not to rush him, we let things go a bit longer.

Then just over a week ago, we just kind of forgot to put one on and he forgot too. And even though he woke up during the night and wet the bed, the next night we just decided to go with it.

I got him up about 11pm and took him to the toilet and back to bed, and there were no accidents. I repeated this for a second and third night and when there were still no accidents on the fourth night, I was calling that a goal!  

When I checked in with Chris, she told me to keep going as a habit is really established for good if you hit seven to 10 nights with a dry bum. And so we did.

And here we are. Night nine and we are still dry. Okay, so we have one more night to go but I think it’s important to give ourselves a pat on the back.

And also, hopefully, our story might assure anyone else worried about this last little step of toilet training – you can get there too. Eventually!


Parent School footer dinkusNeed some more toilet training advice? Our Parent School Toilet Training Support program can help. Click to find out more or book a one-on-one session with a toilet training expert. 


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