Does Potty Training Affect Sleep?
Does Potty Training Affect Sleep?
Hey! My name is Stephanie Hewitt, founder of SH Sleep Consulting and I am a postpartum educator and infant/toddler sleep coach. Today, I’m the featured writer on the Peejamas’ blog and we’ll be discussing if and how potty training affects sleep. So I have to be honest here, potty training was hard for me as a parent. Potty training my kids has proven (with the test of time) to be one of my least favorite parenting experiences. I will also be honest and say that because 3 of my 4 kids are in their teens I did not go through the first few years of my parenting journey with Google, social media posts, or helpful online tips so I just dove in and did my best. I got certified to support other parents on their parenting journey so that I could share my experience and bring joy and peace of mind to other parents. Potty training is one of those milestones that affects pretty much all aspects of life for a time and becauseI’m going to focus on how potty training impacts sleep and what we can do about it.
Milestones and Sleep
Little kids are amazing and from the moment they are conceived they are changing and growing at an incredible rate. As their bodies change their need for food and sleep also change. Feeding a newborn on demand and around the clock is quite normal. Feeding a 4-year-old on demand and around the clock is not as easy to do nor is it sustainable simply because your little one has changed so much in those 4 years. We go from breast or bottle feeding to purees, texture, and then solid foods.
Newborns sleep in 2 phases, REM and deep sleep. Around the 4th month, the brain reorganizes sleep, and their sleep habits and needs change. Babies ages 0-12 weeks need 16-18 hours of sleep a day but a 4-year-old does very well on 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. As parents, it’s our responsibility to change with the times. When our kids learn a new skill as they grow this can affect their behavior and their sleep patterns. You may notice that when your baby learns to roll suddenly sleep becomes difficult for a while! The same thing happens when they learn to sit, stand, walk, talk and so many other physical skills. The body is learning something new and they practice over and over until they get it! I always tell my private coaching clients that practice makes perfect. The more time you spend practicing any new skill with your baby the less the sleep will be affected.
Is Potty Training a Milestone?
So now that we’ve had all of this discussion around milestones and skills let’s ask an important question. Is potty training a milestone? The answer is yes! Potty training is both a physical skill (learning to use muscles to hold and release on command) and a developmental milestone (communicating the need, balancing on the toilet, pulling clothes on and off, anticipating bodily needs) and it takes a lot of work from both kid and parent. So just like any other milestone can affect sleep so also does potty training. So what can you do? How can you encourage your child to be independent but also set boundaries so they don’t use the bathroom as an excuse to get out of bed?
Potty Training and Bedtime
Let’s say you’ve decided your little one is ready to potty train they are maybe doing one or more of the following:
- Interested in the goings on in the bathroom and may follow you in there to chat about it
- Telling you their diaper is “dirty” or wet and asking to be changed
- Making the connection that they are about to pee or poop right before it happens and vocalizing it to you
- They can copy your behavior and follow instructions
- They are keeping their diaper dry for at least 2 hours
- Your child can walk to the bathroom and sit on the toilet without too much assistance
You get to work and things are going pretty well during the day. Hurray! You are conquering a major life event. But now it’s time for bed and your toddler has been laying down for 30 minutes and come out of their room 17 times to tell you they need to go potty. During the day we as parents drop pretty much everything when our kid says the magic words, “I need to go potty” because oh my gosh the situation could escalate quickly! Plus we want to encourage this behavior to avoid any setbacks! At night we face a similar dilemma. How do we encourage potty training without staying up all night?
Include going potty as part of the bedtime routine.For example: Bath, pj’s, brush teeth, potty, 3 short stories, say goodnight
This only gives about 10 minutes between the last potty and saying goodnight which means that they probably don’t need to potty within the first 30 minutes of going to bed.
Use an overnight potty training product to give everyone peace of mind.
Nighttime diapers, pullups, and sheet protectors are all great options. I have recommended Peejamas to many of my clients as it prevents the child from feeling any kind of “regression” in putting a diaper or pullup on at bedtime. This facilitates the independence you work so hard for during the day. I also recommend using a mattress cover for when those accidents do happen. These also work great for kids who are a bit older and need some confidence in staying dry overnight. It’s a win/win.
Use a potty pass.
This works great for kids 3+ because it gives them some control. I provide a potty pass to my toddler clients when needed. The child is given the pass to use 1 time whenever they feel they need it during the night. Then once the pass has been used it’s unavailable until the next evening at bedtime. This gives kids a sense of control over their bathroom use but also puts a limit on how many times they can ask to leave their room.Helping your child learn this new and essential skill is not easy or much fun but having the resources and supplies makes everything much easier! Potty training is not for the faint of heart but stay calm and consistent, you can get there and it will be totally worth it! If your family is struggling with hitting these milestones or managing boundaries and sleep please reach out to me and schedule a free sleep assessment. Parenting isn’t always easy but you don’t have to do it alone.