Motherhood has its challenges — from those sleepless nights spent nursing, to the endless rounds of diaper changing sessions. It’s an imperfectly perfect life I had always wanted.
However, potty training the kiddos is what I have found to be one of the most challenging things as a parent.
I have a child who is a heavy sleeper, and while this is great when staying up late having wine nights with friends (he sleeps through the chatter), it’s not so great when he sleeps through those late-night potty cues.
After spending several nights washing soiled sheets, I said enough is enough. There has to be another way. After some trial and error, we found a system that works. So if you’ve encountered this problem as a parent, read on.
Here are the top six most valuable tips that help potty train your baby.
In this article
- Is Wetting the Bed Normal?
- Tip #1: Don’t Start Potty Training Too Early
- Tip #2: Remain Patient With Your Heavy Sleeper
- Tip #3: Cut all Liquids Two Hours Before Bed
- Tip #4: Practice With an Alarm System
- Tip #5: Try the Three Day Method for Faster Results
- Tip #6: Look for Alternative Reasons That They May be Wetting the Bed
- Getting Your Child Comfortable With Big Kid Underwear
- Preparing Yourself for Accidents
Is Wetting the Bed Normal?
Some moms wonder when the bed-wetting will stop. Honestly? Only time can tell. These accidents will happen more frequently as your child is going through the potty training process, but sometimes it can happen to older children too.
For example, my oldest was prone to having nightmares and would wet the bed frequently until the age of six.
So, to answer your original question — yes. Children wetting the bed is quite normal. It’s your job as a parent to narrow down why and figure out the best course of action to take.
Now, onto my top tips for heavy sleepers!
Tip #1: Don’t Start Potty Training Too Early
Starting the process can put a lot of stress on both you and your little one. You may set up expectations you didn’t even know that you had. So, when’s the optimum time to start potty training then?
First, get rid of the idea that children must be potty trained by a certain age. We both know that every baby reaches their milestones at their own pace, and toilet training is no different!
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Before you begin, ask yourself the following questions:
- Can your child communicate with you and let you know that they need to go to the bathroom yet?
- Can they sit on a toilet by themselves?
- Have they shown interest in wearing big kid underwear?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, your child may be ready to start learning the basics. But don’t start if they are currently undergoing a stressful or big change in their life.
For example, if you’re about to have another child, put off potty training for a few months so they can adapt. You may want to avoid starting potty training if you’re going through a divorce or transitioning your child to a ‘big-kid’ bed.
Tip #2: Remain Patient With Your Heavy Sleeper
If your child continues to wet the bed, even after vigorous toilet training and constant reminders to use the bathroom, keep your cool.
Your heavy sleeper can’t wake themselves up to use the bathroom. Some of these accidents are genuinely unavoidable!
Instead of getting angry, try to put yourself into their shoes and speak with a calm demeanor. They are likely feeling helpless if this is a recurring problem. Not to mention, they don’t want to wet the bed intentionally.
When trying to be a more patient parent, refrain from using negative words like “gross,” “disgusting,” and “nasty.” These can be quite harmful to your child to hear.
This kind of language won’t improve anything either and may make their anxiety about toilet training worse. Use positive affirmations and remind your child that you love them and believe in them.
Guilt tactics are also damaging. Children have small bladders, and while it’s frustrating stripping and washing the sheets every night, understand that this is all part of the process.
Lastly, avoid punishing your child for things that are out of their control. Use a rewards-based system where your child is given a treat every time they make it through the night without wetting the bed.
This treat can be a special breakfast the next day, like pancakes with whipped cream. You can also give them a non-food related reward. Promise to take them to the museum or their favorite playground on the weekend.
A new pair of pajamas or a costume may also be an incentive that can work to keep them dry throughout the night.
Tip #3: Cut all Liquids Two Hours Before Bed
Try pushing dinner back an hour or so, and don’t let your child chug a giant glass of water before getting tucked into bed. If he or she is a heavy sleeper, this can be a recipe for disaster as children have smaller bladders.
Ensure your child is getting plenty of liquids throughout the day, so they aren’t thirsty by bedtime. Instill this routine into their daily lives, so they aren’t asking for water too late into the night.
Tip #4: Practice With an Alarm System
You can also try to implement an alarm system where an alarm wakes your child periodically throughout the night. Some even come with liquid detecting sensors that will wake your child and send a push notification to your phone.
Tip #5: Try the Three Day Method for Faster Results
If you’re anxious to get your heavy sleeper into the rhythm of things, you should try the ever-popular Three Day Method.
I know what you’re thinking. Just three days? Maybe it sounds too good to be true. But when everything else fails, this method may be aggressive enough to work for even the heaviest sleeper.
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Set Aside Three Days in Your Schedule
Mark this event in your calendar to ensure you’re not traveling, working, or meeting any family or friends. If you work full time, try to do this around the holidays or ask for a few days off.
You’ll need to stay home with your child for the duration of what feels like the potty training Olympics!
Make Sure You’ve Gotten Rid of Your Diapers
If you hate the idea of wasting money, make sure you’re running low on diapers before implementing the Three Day Method. If it works, you’ll just have a stack of diapers collecting dust.
You’ll just need one box. In case there are any accidents, but use most of them up if you’re seriously planning on switching to big kid undies.
Buy the Necessary Supplies
You will need a few things to make the potty training a bit easier. Buying a seat reducer for the home is advised. Your child will feel more inclined to use the potty if they have easy access to it.
You should also invest in one for traveling to make the transition easier while away from home.
Some other supplies I found to be quite useful during this potty training time were training pants to catch those little accidents and a step stool for the sink. Remind them to wash their hands for 30 seconds after going to the bathroom to instill good habits.
Once you have all the tools to set your child up for success, it’s time to begin the training. One of the main reasons it’s hard for your heavy sleeper to go potty in the middle of the night is because no one is reminding him that he has to!
During this first day home, make a HUGE deal about your child graduating from diapers to undies. Make them feel special!
Throughout the day, regularly ask them whether or not they have to use the bathroom. Never take your eyes off them either. If you notice they have to go, pull them directly to the bathroom and sit them down onto the toilet trainer.
Repeat the same steps as the first day. You may want to give your child a large glass of water in the morning and watch for signs that they have to go use the bathroom. Continue to use neutral language and refrain from scolding them.
If your child is still having accidents on the third day, set the alarm to go off every 20 minutes. When the alarm goes off, ask your child if they have to go to the bathroom.
By the end of the third day, they should be more comfortable with going to the potty. Gauge how they respond to positive reinforcement when they do go, so you can make them feel accomplished.
Do they respond well to praise, or does it make them feel uncomfortable? You know your child best.
Tip #6: Look for Alternative Reasons That They May be Wetting the Bed
My last and final tip is to look for alternative reasons that they may be wetting the bed. We soon realized that my child was indeed a heavy sleeper, but the bed-wetting was also partially due to his stress.
Once we implemented these tips and started to use more positive language, he got toilet training down to pat. Your child may be scared of the toilet. Fears surrounding the noise the toilet makes or potentially falling in are quite valid to a small child!
What to Avoid When Potty Training
Now that you are aware of some helpful tips that may aid you during the potty training process, it’s time to briefly discuss what you shouldn’t do when your child is a heavy sleeper.
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Avoid Springing the Idea on Your Child
My husband and I made sure to talk to our child through the entire process of potty training. We also explained why he wouldn’t be using diapers anymore.
I was adamant about preparing him, so make sure to warm your child up to the idea too. This can help them build confidence in the situation.
Avoid Forcing Your Child to Learn
If your child isn’t showing any interest in learning to use the toilet just yet, give it time. Under no circumstances should you force them to do this.
Not letting them have a say in the matter can cause unnecessary stress and prolong the toilet training process, especially if they are a deep sleeper.
Getting Your Child Comfortable With Big Kid Underwear
Once you’ve potty trained your child, here’s how you can ensure your little one is comfortable while wearing their big kid undies! Take them with you to the store to pick out a few pairs.
Make sure they are fun and vibrant, instead of buying bland and boring tidy whites. If your child feels they got a say in their undies, they’ll avoid soiling them. Give your kids some independence when you can, and they will thrive.
Preparing Yourself for Accidents
This tip isn’t necessarily for the kids. It’s for the moms and dads out there who are tired of washing sheets. If you’re in the middle of potty training your small child, make sure you are prepared 24/7.
Accidents can happen at any time of the day. Bring an extra pair of undies and clothes when you leave home. You should also buy several sets of bedsheets to replace them quickly and get your child back into bed after an accident in record time.
Also, remember to purchase more toilet paper, as you have another member of the family to think about now!
Take the stress out of potty training your child. This process may seem impossible if your son or daughter is a heavy sleeper, but the two of you an unstoppable team!
Never give up hope, and remain patient with your child. They’ll need you in their corner during this new and slightly confusing time. You got this, mama!