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It's often suggested that potty training should be done while the child is still a toddler, otherwise it can have negative affects on the child (can be embarrassing, create resistance to the training, etc.). Is the same true of night-time potty training? (night-time potty training is often presented as a separate battle)

Details:

  • Almost no day-time accidents (knows how to stay dry when awake)
  • No history of enuresis (bedwetting) in the family
  • Night-time diapers are almost always wet, but only urine; no poop
  • Consistent night and morning routine (uses the toilet just before bed, avoiding water before bed, and going directly to the potty in the morning)
  • Sometimes he unloads a lot in the morning; My guess is that most urination happens when awake
  • Child is currently 3½ years old

One opinion is that: "if your son or daughter seems perfectly content to sleep in diapers until middle-age, you might have to seek out the signs that they’re ready for the next level." According to the CDC, "middle childhood" is 9-11 years of age. Is it okay for a child to sleep in night-diapers until 11 years old?

Are there any long-term effects of delaying Night-Time potty training?

Note that this question is not about problems potty training at night (discussed here, here, and here), but rather the consequences of delaying it.

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    The diaper is wet, no? Not full of feces? Is there a history of enuresis (bedwetting) in the family? How can a child "try" to stay dry in their sleep? Or do you think they wake up and decide to urinate in their diaper? How old is the child? So many questions! The answer depends on the answers to at least some of them.
    – anongoodnurse
    Mar 25 at 23:33
  • Thanks @anongoodnurse, good points! Updated post accordingly.
    – James
    Mar 26 at 13:14
  • Good question! We too are wondering about this with our 4-year-old and how much to force the issue, so I am looking forward to answers.
    – Libranova
    Mar 29 at 12:50
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    Not really enough for an answer, but I’ve heard of older kids getting teased when their peers find out they wear diapers/pull ups at night (like at a sleepover). That could be a negative effect.
    – Ryan
    Apr 7 at 22:47
  • Is there really any training to this? Or is it just that some children don't mind the diaper (or just love the fact they don't need to get up in the night) longer than others? From what I have read about not needing night diapers any more, this usually comes from the child itself. And if a child still wears diapers in school age and peers learn about it, their bullying will be hurtful but also a big reason for the child to want to stop using diapers.
    – Kjara
    May 24 at 13:58

2 Answers 2

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I have twin boys (now 10) and live in the USA. One nighttime potty-trained very easily. The other was fine during the day, but slept very deeply and was continuing to wear pull-ups with an added pad at night. If we didn't add the pad, he'd overflow the pull-up.

I asked the pediatrician about this when he had recently turned 5. She wasn't very concerned. The general notes from the visit state that they don't recommend intervention by medication before age 7 and not until other solutions have been tried.

She recommended an alarm. We ended up trying 2 different models when he was about 5.5. The first one didn't work very well--we couldn't get it to stop going off. The second, from DryEase, seemed to help him recognize when he needed to go and within two weeks he was reliably getting himself up and to the bathroom.

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  • I just mentioned this to him and he told me that a year before that he revealed to his preschool teachers that he wasn't nighttime trained. They did a big discussion with him and he says "intimidated me". So the next week when they asked him, he lied that he was nighttime-trained. They gave him some goldfish. sigh
    – mkennedy
    May 2 at 2:14
  • Great answer, thanks for posting!
    – anongoodnurse
    May 2 at 2:29
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Looking at the context of your link, I believe that the writer of the blog meant "middle age" as a joke (so, think age 40). They don't seem to mean "middle childhood". The social consequences of an 11-year-old still wearing diapers at night would be quite severe. They would be unable to attend sleepovers, go to a camp, or anything with an over-night at all without their peers finding out what would almost certainly be treated like something shameful. Children of that age can be cruel. Further, they would have a negative secret that they carried around with them at all times.

To put it into some perspective, the average age of first menstruation in the USA is 12 years old and many start at 11 years old. Can you imagine a tween menstruating into a diaper? Or how their peers would react if they found out?

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