Yet another post about potty training…

29 Dec

One of our big pre-trip goals is potty training.  When you are planning to carry as little luggage as we are, a whole pack of nappies takes up far too much space.  It would be a shame to have to leave out the clothes.  Now we’ve managed to get Dickon dry in the day time after lots of washing pants in hotel sinks and collapsing Tommy Tippee Potette disasters, but both boys are still in nappies at night.

We tried to get Ned out of nighttime nappies a few months ago, with absolutely zero success.  He is a very deep sleeper, and would regularly wet the bed within a couple of hours of going to bed at 7pm, even if he’d not drunk since tea at 5ish and had a wee just before bed.  When he hadn’t managed a single dry night for about a week, we put him back in pull ups, with a potty and a light right next to his bed.  It has never been used, he simply doesn’t wake up.  As he’s just five, and I’ve been told that some boys aren’t dry in the night before they’re six, we decided to give him, and the washing machine, a rest for a while.

But just before Christmas, Dickon announced firmly “I don’t need a nappy tonight”, so we left it off.  In the morning he was dry.  We were nothing short of amazed and Dickon was very pleased with himself.  When Ned heard this, he decided he couldn’t be outdone by his little brother and was also going to give up nappies.  It turns out that Dickon’s dry night was a freak occurence, which sadly hasn’t been repeated, with both boys wetting their beds every night for a week.

We’ve tried taking them to the loo before we go to bed and we’ve tried just leaving them.  We don’t let them drink for about an hour before they go to bed.  We could just accept that they’re not ready and give it a rest for a few months, trying again a little while before we leave in October.  Or we could keep going and capitalise on their enthusiasm, while our house gradually becomes entirely pervaded by the smell of wee.  I’m out of ideas.  What would you do?

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17 Responses to “Yet another post about potty training…”

  1. Ang (A Mum's survival guide) 29/12/2009 at 9:57 pm #

    I found it really easy to get Little Miss A dry during the day but haven’t even thought about night time yet. I’m obviously in no hurry where as I can see you will be.
    If they are constantly wet I would take it as a sign they are not ready personally, but I guess if you’re happy to do the washing etc every day you could persevere. Try a reward chart?

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 29/12/2009 at 10:03 pm #

      I think I’m more inclined to give up. I’ve tried reward charts for potty training in the past and they never seem to work. The child just seems to lose interest cos they aren’t getting any stickers.

  2. Sally, Who's the Mummy 29/12/2009 at 10:02 pm #

    I think it took a little while with Flea – a week sounds familiar, I know I had quite a lot of wet sheets.

    What worked for me was actually to give her a drink before bedtime (about 30 mins prior) so that as she went to bed and brushed her teeth she did have the urge to empty her bladder, so it’s the last thing she did.

    In the mornings, Flea does tend to sleep late so for a week or so I made a point of waking her and taking her right to the loo at 8am or so, compared to 9am which is when she wakes up on her own.

    Apart from that, I used those Pampers bed cover things you can put under the sheet to protect the mattress, to minimise the damage when accidents did happen.

    After a week or so I think we started to only have an accident occasionally for a few weeks and then she was fine – she was probably about 3.5 I think.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 29/12/2009 at 10:08 pm #

      I hadn’t thought of a drink 30 mins before bed. I’ll give that a try. We use the pampers bed mats, but have run out. We’re onto towels on top of the sheet, which works pretty well.

  3. MotherOf3 29/12/2009 at 10:15 pm #

    We went to a specialist at our local Children’s Hospital recently to talk about my son’s night time peeing. He turned seven last August and had never had a dry night. I’ve tried a whole heap of things: sticker charts, restricting fluids, taking him to toilet just before bed and waking him at 10 to take him to the toilet… whenever I go into him, he is completely dead asleep in a huge puddle of his own wee, just two hours after I last took him to the toilet.

    I’ve always felt that it was something he couldn’t control and so have just continued using pull-ups, although often they can’t control the sheer volume of urine pumped into them.

    And indeed, during the day, he never really seemed to have very good toilet management skills and comes home every day with his school trousers smelling of wee. I once asked him why he leaves it to the last moment to tell me he’s busting to go to the toilet and he said “I don’t feel it until the last minute”.

    The specialist we saw identified two problems, both quite common:

    1. My son has yet to have the hormone “ADH” kick in properly, which allows children to concentrate and store urine overnight. Other kids might have this problem but are light sleepers so get up and go to the toilet through the night. My son is a heavy sleeper and so sleeps right through the lot and lies in a huge puddle of his own urine as a result.

    2. He has an overactive bladder which means he will get that “busting to go” feeling when his bladder cramps or spasms at only 10% capacity (most of us just start getting messages to go the toilet, with slowly increasing urgency, at 50% capacity). So all those times I had asked him if he needed to go to the toilet and he’d said No, only to come running five minutes later absolutely busting was completely beyond his control and not because he was being lazy or distracted.

    The net result is that he is on a drug called Ditropan which relaxes his bladder and allows him to go for hours without cramps or emergency toilet stops. He’s a new child.

    Apparently it is a condition that the vast majority of children grow out of in time, but we’ve decided to medicate in the interim to give him better quality of life and more confidence.

    The specialist’s hope is that it may have some impact on his night-time pee antics – and it has, to some degree. We’ve had a couple of mornings where there has been nothing in his pull-up – this has never ever happened before. However, we still have bad mornings and may yet have to go the “alarm mat” route, where he’ll sleep on a device that will set off a loud alarm the moment even a drop of liquid hits it. Apparently nobody knows why this works – some theories is that it rewires the brain to wake when urine starts to being passed.

    Still, the point of this long and rambling comment is that sometimes there are physiological reasons underlying these toilet training problems that no amount of “training” can get past.

    The other point is that you (and your sons) are not alone.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 29/12/2009 at 10:26 pm #

      Thanks for this, it sounds exactly like our five year old. I was aware that it was something to do with hormones, but wasn’t sure what. As yet, he’s not too bothered, so I don’t think we’ll go down the medication route. I did wonder whether sharing a room when we’re travelling would help, ie, he’d be more likely to wake up and we’d be there to help. Looks like we might have to take packs of nappies with us after all…

  4. Coding Mamma (Tasha)` 29/12/2009 at 10:40 pm #

    Rosemary just did it when she was ready, to be honest. She had a few accidents when she was ill, but other than that has been fine. We tried it a couple of times before and she wasn’t very successful, so I’m inclined to say they’re ready when they’re ready.

    I had huge issues with bed-wetting as a child – and, in fact, well into my teenage years. Am very interested to read the MotherOf3’s comments, therefore. I had one of those alarm mats and it made no difference whatsoever. I always thought my parents tried to early, though in those days they didn’t have pull-ups and the like, so not sure what they would have done otherwise!

    So, my personal opinion is don’t push it. What about some cloth nappies, though, that can be washed and re-used, rather than taking big bags of disposables? (I don’t use cloth nappies myself, so can’t vouch for them being good for older children, but it seems that it would mean a little less to pack, at least.)

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 29/12/2009 at 10:49 pm #

      We actually have some cloth nappies as I’ve used them a bit, but not at night. I was thinking about this, as you’re right, they’ll definitely take up less space. Maybe I need to practise and work out how long they take to dry etc.

  5. Emily O 29/12/2009 at 11:05 pm #

    Personally I’d leave it another few months and try again. I think it’s good to start trying once you’ve had a reasonable number of dry nights. It’s tricky. I was lucky with my eldest as he was straightforward, but there are two more to go through it with and I’m not looking forward to it! Good luck!

  6. cartside 29/12/2009 at 11:54 pm #

    I have the opposite problem so can’t really help. My daughter is dry most nights and always during nap time but so far has not managed to figure out how to use the potty for a wee.
    She can hold it very well, but not empty on demand, so ends up with such a full bladder that she doesn’t even make the potty.
    Who thought it would be so difficult?

  7. Freia 30/12/2009 at 12:14 am #

    Cloth nappies can also be a good incentive for older kids. Modern nappies are so brilliant at locking away the wee that kids never feel any discomfort when they’ve used them: great for nappy rash prevention but not so good for toilet training. Can’t vouch for night time usefulness but have seen them work for the daytime and at least you can rule out another possible reason.

  8. itsasmallworldafterallfamily 30/12/2009 at 8:48 pm #

    Tonight’s update: Dickon (aged 3) has put himself back in nappies, but Ned (aged 5) wants to carry on without. He still hasn’t had a dry night, but I’m going to try and encourage him back into nappies for a while, without making him feel like a failure. Shall I get the name of a good shrink lined up for him now?

  9. itsasmallworldafterallfamily 02/01/2010 at 3:28 pm #

    Update: Ned’s obviously decided that 2010 is the year he’s going to be dry at night! We’ve been following Sally’s advice or a few days to see if it would work. On New Year’s Eve we took him to the loo much later than usual, just before midnight (we had been doing it between 9 & 10) and on New Year’s Day he was dry in the morning! Properly dry, without a the usual tiny (or huge) damp patch. Last night I took him to the loo at about 10.30 (I couldn’t manage any later) and he was dry again this morning. I’m sure we’ll have more accidents, but the fact that he’s done it twice is very cheering. It’s a happy ending, thanks for all your advice guys!

  10. Wife of bold 03/01/2010 at 10:28 pm #

    Great news! Hope he’s still dry most nights! I’m having the exact same problem with Sofia who was four in november – she’s fine in the day but after following all the advice in the book we are still swimming in pools of urine in the Morning! It’s so frustrating as her big sis Mia was dry at 2yrs of age day and night! Her little twin sisters aged two are in the process of potty training and i fear they’ll be dry at night sooner than Fi! I wish you dry nights for 2010 x

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 04/01/2010 at 4:34 pm #

      We’ve now had 3 dry nights! 3 cannot be a coincidence. Our washing machine is breathing a sigh of relief.

  11. Rachael 11/01/2010 at 10:28 pm #

    Having just completed fifteen months of round-the-worlding with one in nappies, I can assure you it is possible. Freezing cold when washing them in a mountain stream in the hills of Thailand (but hilarious for the kids who were watching when the nappy dropped off the rock and I ran downstream with a stick of bamboo to retrieve it!). Inconvenient when water was at a premium in the motorhomes. Impossible to get dry inside of four days in the pouring rain of England (but you’re leaving that behind!!!) So, yes, altogether, possible. Not to mention ecologically sound 😉

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 12/01/2010 at 10:49 am #

      I’ve always been put off by the drying thing, it takes absolutely ages here without a tumble dryer. Hadn’t thought about it being warmer almost everywhere else…

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