Should I Wake My Child To Pee At Night To Train Them?


So, your little one is growing up – it goes far too quickly, doesn’t it? And you’re ditching the diapers and teaching your child how to use the toilet.

Whoever said parenting was easy has obviously never tried to teach a child who loves to drink a full bottle of juice before bed, how to recognize that they need to get up and go to the toilet.

And though we can all agree that it’s a dreaded moment to pull back the duvet and do the touch-test in the morning to realize that the sheet and mattress are soaking. We have to cut them some slack, their bodies – and bladder – haven’t quite trained to let them know it’s toilet time yet.

At the beginning of your toilet training, you can expect an accident or two, or three or more. And for all our busy moms and dads out there, having to add another load of laundry to the day's to-do list can be a little stressful and annoying.

Because of this, you may be tempted to partake in ‘lifting.’ This is a technique where you wake your child up throughout the night and take them to the toilet.

Should I Wake My Child To Pee At Night To Train Them

And while this may save you some considerable washing, it’s not all that useful for your child and it won’t teach them how to stay dry throughout the night. 

In this article, we'll discuss this technique, why it doesn’t work, the implications it may have, and what other options you have. 

Why Lifting Isn’t Effective?

It’s worth noting that when it comes to toilet training it isn’t actually the bladder you are training. I mean you are, but it’s your baby’s brain-to-bladder communication that is the focus.

But if you are waking your child up to pee during the night, the brain doesn’t have to do any of the work and that communication is disrupted. 

The other issue is that your child’s bladder probably isn’t completely full when you are taking them to the toilet. This means that they are not learning that they need to wake up and go to the toilet when they get that bursting bladder feeling. 

Moreover, if you set a consistent schedule where you take your child to the toilet just before you go to bed yourself, you’re actually forming a habit.

This means that your little one will just assume that it’s time to go to the toilet from repetition rather than responding to their body. 

Think about when you get woken up in the middle of the night, you don’t know where you are or what you’re doing, and half the time you can be told you had a conversation that you don’t even remember.

It’s the same for your child, they’re not going to remember going and they’re not going to learn while in that half-awake half-asleep brain fog. 

The Effects Of Lifting

crying toddler

Any parent knows the peril of an overtired or cranky child – it does not make for a pleasant day. You can expect plenty of temper tantrums and tears. And can you blame them? I’m prone to throwing my dolly out of the pram when I’m tired too. 

Lifting requires breaking that vital sleep cycle and interrupting a full night's sleep. This is bad enough for any child, but for those who struggle with bed-wetting, it’s even worse.

This is because your little one is now even more tired while sleeping, and they’re going to struggle even harder to wake up when they get that got-to-go feeling. 

So not only will it not actually help keep the bed dry, but it also will lead to one very stroppy and over-tired child. 

What Can You Do Instead?

So we’ve established that the ‘lifting’ technique probably isn’t the best option. But if you’re not waking your pride and joy up at night to keep the bed dry, what can you do? Below you’ll find a list of options: 

  • Medical Check-Up – If bedwetting persists you can always take your child for a medical check-up to eliminate any underlying health concerns. 
  • Before-Bed Toilet Time – As part of your bedtime routine, ensure that your child has gone to the toilet at least twice before going to bed. 
  • No Drinks Before Bed – If your child struggles with bedwetting, keep them nice and hydrated during the day. But that last hour or so before bed, restrict excess fluid intake. 
  • A Good Night's Sleep – Make sure that your little one is regularly getting a good night's sleep. 
  • Constipation – It’s important to ensure that your child isn’t struggling with constipation. 

Final Thoughts

If you're new to toilet training, then please don’t stress, an accident here and there is totally normal. After all, your child is still learning to respond to feelings that we are well acquainted with. 

And though it can be tempting to wake your little one up to save you the ordeal of a clean-up, it’s really not in your best interest.

Your child won’t learn to recognize their bladder-brain communication this way, and so it’s likely that you’ll still find accidents happening here and there. 

However, with that being said, if your little one is aged six or older and still struggles with bedwetting, then some form of action does need to be taken.

Talking to a medical professional if you’re worried is never a bad idea and you can also try to take the actions detailed above to see if that helps. 

But for the most part, it is important just to be patient. In time, they will get there. But remember that they have spent the majority of their life just going when they need to.

Building up that communication between the brain and the bladder won’t happen overnight, but slowly but surely they’ll be big boys and girls that can go to the toilet alone. 

And us parents will be left reminiscing to those newborn days that fly by in the blink of an eye.

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