Toilet training: 4 signs you’re ready for nappy-free nights

Posted in Learning and Development.

We’ve been so busy since the arrival of our second son that I have only just realised that son number one is still in a night nappy.

This transition hasn’t felt like a priority while our family has grown, and to be completely honest, the idea of having any less sleep has been extremely unattractive!

But now we’re ready.

What next?

How to know when it’s time to ditch night-time nappies

According to mothercraft nurse and Feed Play Love Helpline expert Chris Minogue, children are often ready for night-time nappy training around six months after daytime toilet training has been completed – although some children won’t be ready for a long time after this! And you’ll know which camp your child is in by the wetness of their night-time nappy.

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 nowhere near 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; apparently, there’s a link between speech and toilet training success

Despite everything indicating that taking your child out of night-time nappies is going to be a success, some young children don’t like change – so they may resist getting rid of the night-time nappy. It’s part of their bedtime ritual and acts as a bit of a security blanket.

“Some kids can rely on night nappies,” says Chris. “And boys can be slower to complete the process.”

If you’ve got a little boy who doesn’t look like he’s going to be ready any time soon, Chris recommends asking your mother-in-law what age your partner was ready – there is a genetic factor at play with night-time dryness – to indicate how long it might take. 

But don’t let her answer (or anything else for that matter) stop you from giving it a go if you think he is ready!

Listen to Chris Minogue on Helpline on Feed Play Love

How to get the process right:

  1. Get your child to have a wee before bed.
  2. Protect the bed (and your time) by covering the mattress with a waterproof bed pad.
  3. Have a chat: “Tell your child to wake up Mummy and Daddy if they need to do a wee at night and remind them that you’ve left a light on,” advises Chris.
  4. Make sure the path to the toilet is well lit and clear.
  5. Avoid winter if you can! Brrrrr.

Still not dry overnight? 

If you’ve followed all the steps above but your child is still waking up wet, persist. It can take some children a few nappy-free weeks to truly learn how to control their bladder overnight or wake themselves from sleep to go to the loo. But there are a couple of tricks you can try to help nudge them towards success:

  • If you do go back to nappies for a time, don’t put that nappy on until they are in bed and ready for sleep. So you you are still taking them to the toilet and still monitoring the amount of fluids they are having in the evening.
  • Take your child for a ‘dream wee’ just before you go to bed at night. This will help them have a better chance of getting through to morning dry.

Don’t apply pressure on your child to be dry overnight – rewards and incentives are not going to work here. Toilet training during the day is quite different from toile training at night in terms of body mechanics. Once your child is asleep, no amount of stickers is going to wake him to go to the loo if his little body is not mature enough to manage the task.



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