Is Toilet Training affecting your baby's sleep? 8 Tips to tackle Night-time Toilet Training and ensure a goodnight's sleep for your baby and yourself too.




Potty/toilet training is a big step for children and parents equally! It represents significant physiological and psychological developmental milestones in your child’s life, and a landmark in your parenting journey.

Toilet training consists of two completely different parts – day training (while awake) and night training (while asleep). Night training is a process of maturation – the body just has to catch up, which it will, eventually! Hence, night-time dryness takes much longer to master than daytime dryness. We’ll discuss the all important brain-bladder connection required for night-time toilet training in more detail, later on in this article.

Like other milestones in your child’s life, such as teething, swaddle transitioning, separation anxiety, etc., toilet training is also one of those developmental phases where your child’s sleep will be affected – even if your child had been sleeping well before. However, take heart and know that it’s yet another phase that will pass; until then, here is our compilation of 8 handy tips to tackle night-time toilet training and ensure a goodnight’s sleep for both your baby and you. We’ve aptly given it the acronym E.M.B.R.A.C.E for ease of remembering! Because the secret to successful toilet training is to embrace the process, not race it.

E is for Expect Accidents

Accidents are not mistakes and failures; in fact each mess-filled episode takes you and your baby a step closer to success! Accidents are an important part of toilet training. Every accident your little one has during their toilet training time is a learning experience, and children learn so much every time an accident occurs. Accidents can happen for months and even years after the ‘initial’ training period. The more accidents the better - thus mentally preparing yourself for what may seem like a million accidents can ease the pressure off you and your child tremendously. When an accident happens, clean up quickly and make very little of it.

If your child gets upset because of an accident, reassure him/her that it doesn’t matter and there’s no need to worry. Like any new skill, toilet training takes time and practice. Even if your child may seem to have mastered toileting, he may regress (go backwards).  This is natural, and usually is associated with major life events and changes in routine, such as birth of a new baby, illness, divorce or separation, moving house, etc. If you know an emotional situation happening soon, do not start toilet training; perhaps wait for a calmer time.

M is for Modelling

Children are curious little beings who love to explore, learn, and imitate others. The interest they show at what others do and the desire to copy adults is a great tool for parents to use while toilet training. As frustrating as it is that your child follows you to the toilet, it’s actually a great way to make them interested in toilet training! Watching an adult go to the toilet can make them want to sit on and use their own toilet too.

Similarly, talking about going to the toilet in your usual conversation around the house helps immensely to encourage children towards generating interest in learning this new skill. Many parents also find great success with toddlers by telling them about other kids in the neighbourhood who are toilet-trained. Talking loud and proud about those kids in front of your child and really making an effort to show how incredibly impressed you are on how ‘big’ they are now for using the toilet can make your own toddler want to get that same response and praise from you.

B is for Brain-Bladder Connection

Researchers have found that even infants have the ability to hold it – to wait to go until a good time. This involves muscle control in the bladder or bowel as well as brain control. Scientists tested sleeping and waking babies, and found that babies don’t pee during quiet sleep, but tend to go when they are awake or waking (Sillén 2001; Yeung 1995). But to achieve full potty training, babies need to be able to perceive and interpret sensations from the bladder, telling them how full it is and if it's going to let out pee (Gammon, 2014).

Our brain controls our bladder – when the bladder is full, our brain receives the signal that it’s time to head to the bathroom and then signals the bladder to release urine. This is the Brain-Bladder Connection. Babies have to develop this connection biologically in order to achieve full toilet training.

According to Claire Fowler, professor of Uro-neurology at University College London, full toilet training achievement depends on the development of the Insula – the seat of visceral sensory perception. Social integration then helps them develop the ability and awareness to contract their sphincters (urinary and anal) to delay emptying until socially appropriate (Gammon, 2014).

It takes time and maturity to develop the awareness of the bladder being full, and to be able to consciously hold on. The age when this happens may differ from child to child because every child is different, with their own unique set of biological, social, psychological developmental factors. Knowing how important it is to develop this brain-bladder connection can help us ease the pressure off our children and ourselves when night-time toilet training.

R is for Routine

Make a toilet trip before bed part of the bedtime routine, and ensure your child goes to bed with an empty bladder. Suggest to your child that she use the toilet before bed and immediately upon waking. If your child is a light sleeper, you may consider waking her up before you go to bed around 10 or 11pm and make one last trip to the toilet.

Many parents find that limiting liquids after dinner can help prevent night-time accidents to a degree. In particular, try to limit juice and sugary beverages before bed, which tend to bring more water into the bladder.  However, ensure she gets plenty of water during the day, and that her diet includes plenty of fibre so she doesn’t get constipated. Not only does constipation put pressure on the bladder and make her want to wee more than often, but an upset stomach can make toilet training all the more challenging for her.

A is for Attitude

A lot of learning is having patience and tolerance for the learning process itself, which is bound to be a blend of good days and bad days, okay days and some not so okay days. Keep going, and don’t let a few accidents make you want to give up the whole thing altogether. Before you know it, you’re there!

When it comes to toilet training, there are several different ways to do it – and not one way that works for everyone. Do what works best for your child, you, and your family. Decide what results you want to see and go for it. What you choose to do doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be consistent on most days. Above all, have faith in your own motherly instinct of what works best for you and your child.

A quote that aptly describes the toilet-training journey comes to mind – “There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children... What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply.” – Elder M. Russell Ballard.

C is for Clothing

When you’re night-time toilet training your child, you will want to dress them in clothes they can easily and quickly remove. Speed and comfort is the key here – when the time comes to rush to the toilet, you don’t want any extra struggling involved. At the same time, you want your child to be warm enough, and not have to be exposed to the cold during middle of the night toilet trips. You also don’t want clothes that ride up when your child is sleeping, exposing their torso and stomach to the cold; which can invite more troubles than you’d like – for example; sleep disruptions and frequent night-waking due to the cold, child falling sick frequently due to being exposed to the cold, and the cold sensation making them want to go to the toilet more frequently, because our body’s urinary system makes us want to wee more when it’s cold! (Knight & Horvath, 1985; Sun, 2003)

To keep your child sleeping comfortably warm at night, we recommend using sleeping bags or sleepsuits, instead of blankets and sheets. Most young children aren’t able to keep blankets on until they are much older, which means they usually get kicked off during sleep, exposing your child to cold and waking them up. Loose bedding also increases the risk of suffocation.

Sleeping bags and sleepsuits are therefore, a safer way to keep your child warm. However, for potty trips, sleeping bags and sleepsuits must be taken off completely, which isn’t very practical while toilet training, and you risk exposing baby to cold. This is where our X-TEND Sleepsuit comes in which has a distinctly unique Drop-Seat at the back and a Two-Way zippers at the front, allowing for fuss-free nappy changes and toilet/potty trips without having to take the whole Sleepsuit off!

Involving your child while buying the X-TEND Sleepsuit for him can be a great way to let him know how grown-up he is, and how proud of him you are for learning a ‘big kid’ skill! Many parents tell us how much their kids love wearing and sleeping in their X-TEND Sleepsuit, which to them is a spacesuit, a superman suit, an astronaut suit, a ninja suit – really, the possibilities of a child’s imagination is endless – and so we suggest, go with their imagination – you’ll be pleasantly surprised what else they come up with!

The X-TEND Sleepsuit is also a great solution for toilet training kids when out and about. Designed for comfort, but it’s also stylish enough for the park, a stroll in the neighbourhood, or a dash to the grocery store. We love receiving testimonials from parents who take their kids in tow in the X-TEND Sleepsuit to fine dining restaurants, and no one ever guessed it was a sleepwear!

With the X-TEND Sleepsuit, you don’t have to be afraid of going out and about when you’re toilet training your child. When you leave your child at a child care centre or with family or friends, let them know that your child is toilet training, and take an extra X-TEND Sleepsuit. They will love you for it really! We often get feedback from child-care workers how thankful they are that the X-TEND Sleepsuit exists, because they say the ease and convenience of toileting children in the X-TEND Sleepsuit makes their jobs a little less frantic!

Embrace it

Toilet training is a major milestone not just for the child, but for the parents too. Night-time toilet training is an even bigger achievement! So if you’re there, congratulations and celebrations! And if you’re not there yet, trust and know that you will get there eventually! The key is not to stress it, not to force it, not to push it, no matter what happens. Because like cultivating any other good habit correctly, learning good toileting habits is going to take time. It may be a long and bumpy process, but it will all be worth it in the end. How fast you get there is not the focus, developing healthy and independent toilet habits is!

Finally, when you put together the first letter of our 8 tips above, they form a beautiful word ‘Embrace’. Toilet training is yet another developmental milestone which we know your child is bound to conquer. The acronym E.M.B.R.A.C.E as outlined today can be a gentle reminder to embrace the process, and to take it easy on yourself and your child, during the most challenging times. Embrace it, don’t race it! :) We wish you and your child every success!

Note: Keep an eye out for a change in the number of poos and wees; hard to pass stool, unformed or very watery stool, blood in stool, or pain when your child goes to the toilet. If you feel there might be a problem or you’re worried about how your child is adapting to toilet training, check with your General Practitioner or child and family health nurse.

References List

Arkansas Urology. (2017, February 13). What is Cold Diuresis

Gammon, K. (2014, July 15) How do babies learn to know when they gotta go?

Knight, D.R., & Horvath, S.M. (1985). Urinary responses to cold temperature during water immersion. The American Journal of Physiology, 248 (5Pt2): R560-6.

Sillén, U. (2001). Bladder function in healthy neonates and its development during infancy. Journal of Urology, 166(6): 2376-81.

Sun, Z., Zhang, Z., & Cade, R. (2003). Renal responses to chronic cold exposure. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 81(1): 22-7.

Yeung, C.K., Godley, M.L., Ho, C.K., Ransley, P.G., Duffy, P.G., Chen, C.N., & Li, A.K. (1995). Some new insights into bladder function in infancy. British Journal of Urology, 76:235-40.

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