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Dr Catherine
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2-4 years

What age is best to start night time toilet training? My son is almost three and since toilet training he hasn’t wanted to wear any sort of nappy or pull up to bed. He’s not ready to go without as he wakes with a wet nappy. He will now wake overnight when he has done a wee and call out for us and we have to change him before he will go back to sleep. Not sure if we should just go for it and see how he goes or hold off and persevere with the nappies. Thanks!

As you probably already know – it is perfectly normal for a 3-year-old to still be experiencing urinary incontinence at night. It is very difficult to predict when he will stop, with the most consistent signs of 'readiness' being an increase in the number of consecutive mornings he wakes up dry. Given he continues to wet every night suggests he is not quite there yet however the fact that wakes in response to his wetting is an encouraging sign. You can help him to stay dry by making sure that he has easy access to the toilet at night – some young children continue to wet at night because they are too scared to get out of bed by themselves and go to the toilet. Talk to him and make sure there isn’t anything scaring him - often a hall light or a small night light can make a difference. You should also make sure that he isn’t drinking sugary drinks in the afternoon or evening as this will only increase the amount of urine his kidneys produce making it harder for him hold on until morning. Clearly your son sees himself as a big boy and the night nappies are just a reminder that he was once a baby. The first thing to do is to explain to him that lots of big boys still need to wear absorbent pants at night – even ones that go to school! I would try using DryNites instead of nappies, as many children associated nappies with babies so that may help the situation, while preserving his self-esteem. As a working mum I completely understand the frustration involved in having to deal with wet sheets of a morning, however it is important that you do not force him to wear absorbent pants as this may only make him feel worse about the situation. Understanding and patience will be the key to success – all the best! Kind Regards, Dr Cathrine