My son is 3 years old. Every night he goes to bed in his underwear and the problem is he doesn't wet the bed but holds his need to urinate and you could tell when he's sleeping he's really fighting and not sleeping well. We tried waking him up at night so he can go to the toilet but he cries and refuses to go. As, sleep is really important in a kid's life. I really hope I can get some advice.

  • 11
    Have you gone to the doctor yet? My 3 year old cousin also had a period like this, but that was caused by an infection that hurt her when she peed. Maybe the same case here.
    – A.bakker
    Apr 27 '20 at 8:56
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    Is it possible for him to go to a potty unassisted if he wakes up in the night with a full bladder? Or does he need assistance to get in/out of bed and/or pull his underwear up/down? I can see being half asleep yourself or being helped by a grumpy half-asleep parent to be a motivation to try and hold your pee till morning, no matter how bad you need to go. Apr 27 '20 at 10:18
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    I'm kind of inclined to say you are over thinking this. If you are putting him in his bed, he's staying there all night, and is still dry in the morning, maybe just leave it alone.
    – Kevin
    Apr 27 '20 at 16:34
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    How do you know his poor sleeping is caused by an overfull bladder? Is it possible he really doesn't have to pee, but is sleeping poorly because of something else?
    – marcelm
    Apr 27 '20 at 16:52
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    Does your child use the bathroom before going to bed? If not, encouraging using the bathroom just before bedtime (along with limiting drinking shortly before bed) might help so that their bladder isn't full and they wont need to go as badly?
    – Doc
    Apr 27 '20 at 18:33

We didn't have the exact same issue, but for what it's worth, before our 3 year old could make it through the night on her own, there were several months where we carried her to the toilet when we went to bed, a couple of hours into her sleep.

We would put her on the toilet, and she would go, and we could carry her back to bed without waking her up. From your description, it sounds like you might be able to do the same, if waking him up is the hassle. If you can endure it, this might be an acceptable workaround until your child grows a bit older and learns to self-regulate this.

  • 3
    Interesting suggestion. There is no one-size fits all in potty training.
    – MaxW
    Apr 27 '20 at 21:48
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    we are doing the same. Apr 27 '20 at 21:54
  • 2
    Yes, did this. Note that you need to hold/support the child the whole time to prevent falling or waking.
    – JimmyJames
    Apr 28 '20 at 14:44
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    Wouldn't this have a risk of back-firing later on and result in more bed wetting?
    – Mast
    Apr 29 '20 at 5:58
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    @Mast Even when you're sleeping, your brain is vaguely aware of the position you are in. This technique will help consolidating the "sitting in toilet = peeing" association. It worked for one of my younglings, too.
    – T. Sar
    Apr 29 '20 at 12:52

kids are very different so there is no single answer that would be the right one.

A few suggestions are:

  • make sure he drinks enough early in the evening, not directly before going to bed.

  • make sure he uses the bathroom before going to bed (even if he says he does not need to, make it a routine, it is fine if only little comes out). If he does not want to go, make it fun (sing a song, tell a short story or invent a joke as part of the routine).

  • I would recommend not to wake him. As you say, sleep is important. Kids sleep deep and can get very confused. They can be half awake half dreaming. Usually if they sleep at night, let them sleep. (This is also true for night terrors, where they seem to be awake, but are not - don't wake them, sing a song, hold their hand, talk to them calmly and eventually the terror goes and they sleep deeper again).

  • Many kids at 3 years are perfectly fine sleeping through the night without going to the bathroom.

  • If he really has to pee at night, he will not be able to controll it and will wet the bed. So if the bed is dry the next morning, he is fine.

  • If he seems like he is "fighting" it could be a dream, maybe too much TV, action not appropriate to his age etc. Or maybe just normal dreams, many kids are not calm sleepers, especially that age.

  • And as mentioned above, if you are unsure or if he wakes frequently at night, is scared and cannot fall asleep again, talk to a doctor.

Potty training is a complex subject and it has to come from the kids, forcing it can make things worse. All the best.. also this period will pass.

  • 2
    Especially your second point! Since potty training to about 5, our son would make it a sport to delay going to the toilet as much as possible, to the point that he would almost explode when put on the toilet. And then he would still claim he did not really have to pee. But he did have a specific sound he made while asleep and needing to pee. We would carry him out of bed and he would pee half-awake.
    – Ivana
    Apr 28 '20 at 14:23
  • Does he pee sitting down or standing?
    – Nick Sun
    Apr 30 '20 at 8:08

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