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Night Time Potty Training Tips: How to Layer the Bed, Better

Updated: Mar 8

The do's and don'ts, and tips for making a toddler bed when you're night time potty training.

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You’ve probably heard a coach frame something the right and the wrong way.

Could be a business coach, a fitness coach, or even your son’s soccer coach on the right and wrong way to kick the ball.

I’m not going to pull out my coach voice and call out: you may be making your toddler’s bed wrong for naptime and night training.

Nope, not gonna say that. Because it’s not a black-and-white situation of wrong or right.

But I am going to say there’s a BETTER way to layer up that bed for night training.

Think of it this way.

You’re making a sandwich. Stacking in all the delicious fixings.

Can you spread the mustard/mayo/aioli/ [your condiment of choice] with a fork?

Of course. But a knife will be far more efficient, yeah?

Same idea with layering a bed for night training.

That’s why it’s a common question I ask parents when we’re working together in a personal consultation.

How is your toddler’s bed set up for night training?

The responses I hear? Typically, I want to hit the brakes on what they’re doing.

Because the last thing you need is even MORE laundry when you’re night training!

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty night time potty training tips for how to layer a toddler bed when the nighttime pull-ups go away. So that everyone can get a better sleep.

toddler sleeping in bed
sharing night time potty training tips for layering your child's bed

First, what night time potty training gear do you need?

You'll want these essentials for night time potty training.

1. A small potty, set up next to the child’s bed.

If you’re prepping for potty training at night and in the daytime, I’d consider this small grow-with-me potty chair that can be configured in different ways.

A common question I hear from parents stuck with night training:

We didn’t put a small potty by the bed. Our toddler is comfortable using the toilet and there’s a bathroom right next to the bedroom.

Why is this a problem?

Night Time Potty Training Tip #1: You want a small potty by the bed no matter what.

Why? First, most toddlers will NOT take themselves to the bathroom overnight. Most don't feel comfortable getting up to go in the dark.

And there's more. A small potty by the bed...

  • sets up the toddler to be more independent, even first thing in the morning.

  • causes less waking for the child than moving to the bathroom.

The dream pees in night training are supposed to be quick, in the dark (with a nightlight), and you don’t want your child all woken up. Setting your child on a small potty next to their bed is easy to pull-off without stirring the senses.

Your child’s bound to be more awake after a walking trip to the bathroom. And you don't want your child fully awake in the middle of the night!

A little recap:

  • DO have a small potty in your toddler’s bedroom, next to their bed.

  • DON’T herd your toddler to the bathroom in the middle of the night (even if the bathroom is close by.)

2. Another essential: A night time potty training mattress pad for on TOP of the sheet.

Don’t breeze past this one!

I know what you may be thinking. OF COURSE you have a mattress cover for the mattress where your toddler sleeps.

I’m not talking about the mattress cover that goes over your child’s mattress (and then a fitted sheet layers over it.)

Nope, I’m talking about an extra night time potty training mattress pad ON TOP of the sheet — to help with accidents you’re likely to see.

Picture this:

You drop the night time pull-ups.

And like most parents, you see some accidents in the beginning.

If your child has a pee accident overnight, then that’s going to mean wet sheets (and more laundry).

Wet sheets that you will need to change in the middle of the night!

laundry basket with sheets
Nobody wants more laundry to do!

That is a not a formula for success in night time potty training. Or good sleep!

What you want is to be able to quickly get your toddler back to bed (and back to sleep!) even when there are accidents in the beginning.

So the best way to protect the bed with expected accidents?

Add a night time potty training mattress pad OVER your toddler’s sheet.

Then the child lies on this soft mattress cover and if your toddler has a pee accident, you’re all set. The waterproof mattress pad absorbs the pee and can easily swap out in the middle of the night.

No need to change fitted sheets in the middle of the night!

Night Time Potty Training Tip #2: Looking for alternatives for a potty training mattress pad for night time accidents? You can use a thick diaper changing pad (the kind you may have gotten from the hospital) or even a fleece blanket can stand in to help.

To recap:

  • DO layer up the toddler bed with extra padding.

  • DON’T rely on a standard mattress pad setup for accidents (because then you’re changing sheets and that takes too much time.)

3. Start with toddler bed or floor bed (meaning you want your toddler out of the crib.)

toddler bed
A toddler bed makes a solid foundation for night time potty training.

The foundation matters. Much like a sandwich stacks up in a different way depending on the bread you choose. (Imagine a sub sandwich with all the dressings on toast — hello, soggy bread!)

In night time potty training, the foundation starts with the bed.

You want your child able to climb out of bed and get to the potty. That’s a better setup for nap and night training.

That way they can actually get to the potty! They’re not trapped in the crib. It’s not the expectation in night time potty training that the toddler will call out for help or hold their pee until you come into their room.

stuffie inside a crib
A crib is a hard setup for night time potty training.

And when you’re working on night training your toddler, it’s a lot harder (on your abs and back!) to pick up a toddler from a low crib when they’re asleep. Far easier to slide the child out from a toddler bed and place them on a small potty that’s on the floor.

Night Time Potty Training Tip #3: You don’t need to buy new furniture to do the crib-to-bed transition. Many parents simply remove the railing of the crib when they’re ready to start nap and night training.

The bed setup also is important for the message it sends. If we’re expecting the toddler to be at a place of holding their pee through naps and overnight, then it doesn’t line up to have them in the same sleep setup as a baby, right?

The bed signals that the child is in the big kid zone.

That’s important. It’s all about building the autonomy of the child.

Okay, are you ready to layer that bed for night time (no pull-ups)?

Here we go! Let’s build it up better for night time training success!

How to layer the bed for night time potty training — and prepare for accidents!

To recap:

Here are the fundamentals you want to layer the bed better for night time potty training:

  1. Start with a toddler bed.

  2. Add your standard mattress cover (you probably already own).

  3. Then put on the fitted sheet.

  4. Next layer your night time potty training mattress pad.

  5. Then blankets (skip the sleepsack.)

  6. Next to the bed, be sure there’s a small potty set up on the floor and a nightlight for a dim light to see while you help your toddler with the dream pees.

That’s the bed formula I’ve seen be the better setup when you’re diving into night time potty training.

I’m still getting coached (now from my kids) on how to kick a soccer ball...right on the laces to score a goal.

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