Nighttime Toilet Training

Question

I have a six-year-old daughter. She is using the toilet during the day but soaking a Pull-Up® at night. We limit fluids after dinner, but that doesn't help. We've even tried bribing her with girl scout camp. She says she just doesn't feel like she has to go when sleeping. I can sense she is frustrated.

I have four other children, from 8 years to 6 months. She shares a room with our toddler. Her pediatrician says to not worry, but...I am envisioning a ten-year-old in Pull-Ups® for some reason. Where do I begin with night training?

Answer

Your pediatrician is right. It is very common for a six-year-old to still be soaking a Pull-Up® at night.

Has your daughter ever had night terrors? I know that is an odd question, but sometimes kids who sleep very soundly won't wake to use the bathroom. Your six-year-old also has a lot of competition in diapers.

The way to begin night training is exactly what you are doing -- limiting fluids. Then you'll have to wake her up to pee every two hours (which I can not imagine when you have a baby). And you don't want to wake the toddler.

Honestly I would just let her wear the pull-ups a little longer. Her body will mature over the next year and make training a lot easier. It's very common for six-year-olds to wear Pull-Up®; not so common for eight-year-old. Eight-year-olds will still wet the bed sometimes. I think in a year you can tackle this. You'll have to wake her for a month, but then she will train easily.

Enjoy your children!
Dr. Laura

Laura Markham

As both a mom and a Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Laura Markham offers a unique perspective on raising kids. Her relationship-based parenting model has helped thousands of families across the U.S. and Canada find compassionate, common-sense solutions to everything from separation anxiety and sleep problems to sass talk and cell phones.

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Dr. Markham received her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University in New York. She's held many challenging jobs, including running publishing companies with 100 employees, serving on corporate boards and coaching business leaders, as well as counseling families and children. Bottom line, she says, "Raising children is the hardest, and most rewarding, work in the world." Dr. Markham lives in New York, with her husband, 14-year-old daughter, and 17-year-old son.