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Navigating Nighttime Potty Training: Understanding the Science, Genetics, and Practical Tips

Updated: Apr 18

toddler potty traininig

"When can I nighttime potty train my kiddo?" This question is a common concern among parents with toddlers. In this blog post, we'll delve into the science behind nighttime potty training, exploring the role of the hormone ADH, the influence of genetics, and offering practical tips for parents navigating this phase.

Understanding ADH and Its Developmental Milestone:

The hormone called Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH) plays a crucial role in regulating urine production during sleep. Typically, around the age of 2-3, children begin producing more ADH, allowing their bodies to concentrate urine and reduce the need to pee during the night. This developmental milestone is crucial in determining when a child might be ready for nighttime potty training.


In addition to hormonal changes, genetics also play a significant role in bedwetting. Bedwetting can be inherited, with the "bedwetting gene" being prevalent within families. Statistics indicate that half of all children experiencing bedwetting had a parent who also struggled with it. This percentage increases to 75% if both parents had a history of bedwetting (source)

Approach to Dropping the Diapers

While you can't rush this process, there are some things you can do to help along the way, supporting them into ditching the diapers.

1. Be cautious with when you offer liquids. Don't cut back on daily total liquids, but consider offering more during the day and limiting intake about 2 hours before bed.

2. Ensure they use the potty right before bed and as soon as they wake up to familiarize them with this practice.

3. If your child has transitioned out of the crib, consider placing a little potty in their room, ideally next to a nightlight, and use a towel or pee pad underneath.

4. Use a diaper they can pull down/up themselves.

Bedwetting in Numbers:

For those who prefer data, here's some information about bedwetting:

- 50% of 3-year-olds are still urinating overnight without waking.

- 20% of 5-year-olds are still urinating overnight without waking.

- 10% of 7-year-olds (and up) are still urinating overnight without waking.

Personal Experience:

I'm currently three weeks into the journey of being diaper-free at nighttime with my 3.5-year-old. After consistent dry nights (I think about 3 weeks?) I decided to ditch the diapers. Although there have been a couple of accidents, the cleanup is easy.

Here's a quick trick: layer the mattress with a mattress cover, bedsheet, another mattress cover, and another bedsheet. Leave out a clean blanket and a change of PJs. Everything wet goes into the bathtub until morning. Bed is dry, kiddo is changed, tucked back in, and I'm back in bed in under 5 minutes.

I can't actually believe I'm done buying diapers? Woah.

As always, if you feel like something isn't within the range of typical, please consult your physician.



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