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Potty Training and Sleep

Little girl sitting on potty

Ever wonder when you should start potty training your child? Do you worry it could negatively impact bedtime? There are usually a lot of questions around the topic of potty training.  While there isn’t an exact age that you should start, most children are ready to begin potty training anywhere from 18-36 months. During that time you might start to notice different signs that could be indicators that your child is ready to start potty training.

Are they pulling at their wet/dirty diaper? Hiding to use the bathroom? Do they show interest in others using the potty? Are they having a dry diaper for a longer period of time than usual? Are they waking up from a nap with a dry diaper? Do they let you know when they are about to go, are going, or have just gone to the bathroom?

If you answered “Yes” to the above questions, you may just have a child who is ready to begin potty training.

Crib or Bed?

Now that your child has shown signs that they are ready for potty training, you may think you need to move them to a regular bed. Don’t do this! If you are potty training, keep your child in their crib. Most kids will not go to the potty on their own until age 3 or 4, so there is no need to move them to a regular bed earlier than you would otherwise. Potty training and transitioning to a bed shouldn’t be done at the same time. Focus on one big change at a time with your child to make it as easy as possible. If your child is already transitioned to a bed, make sure that it is easy enough for them to get in and out of the bed and to the bathroom quickly.

Potty Training and Nighttime

When you do begin potty training, don’t wake up your child to go potty at night. Let them sleep and know that most kids are not ready to stay dry all night until after age 3, sometimes 4.

It is best to wait a good 3-4 weeks of your child being dry every night before putting them into underwear.

When your child is going to the potty at night, make sure to keep lights low/off and have little interaction. You don’t want to overstimulate your child and make it harder for them to fall back asleep when you take them back to their bed. Sometimes potty training can cause a few more wake ups at night than normal. They may even wake up earlier than usual.

When your child is going through a development change or sick, you should also expect to have some night time accidents. The most important thing about potty training is to have patience and show yourself and your child some grace. There will be accidents and setbacks, but it will get better. However, if your child’s sleep is suffering greatly (sleeping in only short increments and waking up very often) they may not be ready and you should stop. Come back to potty training in a couple of months/weeks when they are ready.

Nighttime Routine

Having a consistent routine with your child every night is so important to ensure good sleep habits. When you begin potty training, you’re going to have to incorporate a couple more steps into your nightly routine. For example, ask them if they have to use the bathroom during bath time or while brushing their teeth. If you have a bedtime routine chart, add “try to potty” to it. Let them have one chance to go to the bathroom if they ask during the bedtime routine, or even after they have already been tucked in. Once you have tucked them in, avoid asking them if they have to go to the bathroom. As it is getting closer to bedtime, make sure to watch the water intake so they won’t need to use the restroom as often throughout the night.

Lastly, take a look at these Do’s and Don’ts for Potty Training.


  • Use the regular potty with an insert as soon as possible.
  • Use diapers, not pull ups for sleep.
  • Wait about 4-6 weeks after sleep training before starting potty training.
  • Try to keep the bathroom lighting as low as possible at night, while making sure that your child can independently get around the bathroom.
  • Try to make the potty going experience as independent as possible. Talk through how they can go potty on their own. This will help night time potty independence. 


  • Keep pushing potty training if you start it and your child is not ready and their sleep has been greatly impacted.
  • Limit fluids, just be reasonable with the amount of fluid around sleep time.
  • Put a potty in the bedroom.
  • Sleep train and potty train at the same time.
  • Potty train just because a new baby is on the way. 

Overall, potty training can be a difficult process with some highs and lows. Remember that accidents are to be expected but it will get better. Stick to a nightly routine and do the best you can to help your little one learn how to potty independently as quickly as you can.

You can do this!

About the author

Shannon Glenn

Shannon Glenn is the owner and founder of Sleep Well Children Consulting and a Certified Pediatric Sleep Specialist. She is dedicated to helping parents assist their children and babies in developing healthy sleep habits. With a B.A. in Psychology, Shannon has worked extensively with children and their families for over 15 years in a variety of settings.  She has been offering sleep solutions for over six years.  

Why didn’t we try this sooner?! As we speak he is sound asleep in his crib – and has been since 7:15 pm.

Karianne Wanggaard

Sleep Well Sleep Specialists

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Working with Shannon, I went from 2-3 wake ups every night to 1 or 0. She aligned the plan with my preferred sleep cycle. She was always coaching, never judging. Shannon was great, I have referred MANY people to her! That's the best testament to her work that I can give.

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