Potty training a toddler can be stressful, exhausting, and it can feel like an uphill battle. Nighttime bathroom breaks can be some of the worst moments of the process of potty training because both you and your toddler are probably half asleep, grumpy, and unhappy about being awake. Anyone who has ever dealt with a sleepy toddler can tell you that they are not the most cooperative people to deal with. While it’s not possible to avoid these night time bathroom breaks, there are ways to make the process easier on you. By making just a few simple changes and taking precautions, you can make nighttime bathroom breaks as painless as possible.
1. Make a clear path to the bathroom
Being woken up in the middle of the night can leave you feeling like a zombie. You probably aren’t feeling your best, and you guide your toddler to the bathroom. You want to focus on getting the trip to the bathroom taken care of as quickly as possible so you can get your toddler (and yourself) back to bed as quickly as possible. The last thing you need is to be dodging toys, shoes, and furniture on the way. Make an effort to tidy up the path from your bedroom to the bathroom, so you don’t have to worry about stepping on blocks or toy cars.
2. Keep the path to your bed clear of obstacles
Sometimes the window of opportunity between your toddler waking up and having a potty accident is very short. You can help your toddler with getting to the bathroom in time by making it easy for them to reach you and wake you up. The pathway should be clear of toys and obstacles. Keep piles of clothes and shoes off the floor of your room. Avoid latching either bedrooms’ doors, especially if the doors or handles stick or are hard to open. The faster that your toddler can reach you, the faster you can get them to the potty.
3. Remind your toddler what to do
A groggy toddler waking up in the wee hours because they have to go potty might not immediately know how to act. Ensure that your toddler knows exactly what to do when they wake up and have to go potty. Make it part of your bedtime routine to remind your toddler what to do if they wake up in the middle of the night and need to use the bathroom. You can help them to react more rapidly if you reinforce they are supposed to get up and come to find you and make the information foremost in their minds as they fall asleep.
3. Avoid turning on overhead lights
When you first wake up, your eyes are not used to the bright lights; an overhead light can produce. If you turn them on in your bedroom or in the bathroom, you are going to blind yourself and your toddler, making everyone unhappy and dazed. Your toddler is probably already cranky, and keeping them focused on the potty itself is the most important factor in success. Adding distractions and sources of annoyance will make the entire entire process more complicated and drawn out. An overhead light is also likely to wake your toddler up completely, which will make it more difficult to get them back to sleep after the bathroom break.
4. Install night lights in the hallways
In an effort to avoid using overhead lights, install night lights in the hallways and in the bathroom. You may want to install night lights in your toddler’s room and your room as well. You may be tempted to grab your cell phone for the built-in flashlight, but the light on your phone is just as likely to cause similar problems as to the overhead light. Night lights are gentle on your eyes, and the soft light will help to stimulate melatonin production rather than force your brain into wakefulness as an overhead light would. Night lights are a practical addition to common areas in your home for a whole host of other reasons, as well. The night lights will reduce the risk of stumbles and falls for any night time trips to the bathroom or kitchen for children and adults alike.
5. Use toilet bowl lights
Toilet bowl lights are specifically designed to illuminate your toilet and make it easier to see the target, to put it delicately. While the light is absolutely useful for an adult, it may be the difference between success and failure for a toddler still trying to get the hang of using a full-sized toilet. A full-sized toilet can be scary or intimidating to a toddler, so being able to see what they are doing clearly will help to keep your toddler calm and confident. If the toddler thinks the toilet is scary at night, they are more likely to wet the bed. Fear will keep them in bed because they don’t want to use the scary toilet.
6. Keep a positive attitude
Being woken up in the middle of the night can put anyone in a sour mood, but it’s important to stay positive and patient. It is very difficult for a toddler to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom because their system doesn’t know how to wake them. Once they have started to wake up and come to find you, it is important to reinforce this behavior with encouragement and patience. Even when you are groggy and frustrated, and it feels like you’re never going to be able to get back to bed, just take a deep breath and put a smile on your face. Just remember potty training doesn’t last forever, and you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on sleep once your child turns 18 years old.