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Weaning Off Diapers at Night: Eight Valuable Tips

Judes Windeln in der Nacht abgewöhnen Baby schläft süß

Photo by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash

Few topics preoccupy parents as much as helping their children become dry. Most children are already dry during the day long before they can do without a nighttime diaper. Up until the third year of life, a child's body produces the same amount of urine at night as it does during the day. Sleeping time is a long period to hold in, especially since many children still get thirsty at night. When a child can hold in at night and what kind of support they need varies from child to child.

When do children become dry at night? As a rule, around the third year of life, children show the first signs that they want to do without the nighttime diaper. However, since every child has their own pace, this can't be generalized. You can remain relaxed and give your child time until their 5th birthday.

In this article, you'll learn how you can support your child in becoming dry and how to make this phase as relaxed as possible. We'll explain when a child should be able to sleep without a diaper at night and what factors are crucial for becoming dry.

When is the right time to wean off the diaper at night?

First of all, it's important to know that it's normal for your child to still need to become dry at night, even if they have not been using diapers during the day for some time. Each child progresses at their own pace, so don't let comparisons with other children unsettle you, but rather give your child the time they need. While some children are dry during the day and at night as early as three years old, others may still wet the bed at 6 years old or older. What may sound alarming at first is usually not a problem, as long as your child is not suffering or being teased, and you as parents remain calm.

Typically, around the third year of life, children show the first signs that they no longer need a diaper at night. If the diaper is regularly dry in the morning, this can be a sign that you can start leaving it off. Ideally, the initiative should come from your child who expresses the desire to go without a diaper at night. This way you avoid overriding your child, allowing them the opportunity for self-determination and usually catching exactly the right moment.

From what age should I seek help?

Help should only be sought from a pediatrician once the child reaches the age of five years to rule out any physical causes. However, you should neither worry nor feel guilty. Experts estimate that about 640,000 children between the ages of five and ten still wet the bed at night.

It's possible that the complex system of bladder control is not yet fully developed or your child may have inherited a tendency for bedwetting. Speak with your pediatrician when necessary and make it clear to your child that you support them and will give them the time they need.

Wetness Feedback - The Most Important Sign for Becoming Dry

A fundamental requirement for becoming dry at night is for your child to notice when they need to go and what it feels like to get wet. Only then can they learn over time to hold it in and give signals. Disposable diapers complicate the process, as the important wetness feedback is absent. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are ideal for becoming dry because your child immediately feels what it’s like to become wet and can make the connection.

We at Judes have developed cloth diapers that are as easy to use as disposable diapers. They consist of an absorbent inner diaper and a breathable and waterproof cover. Our organic cotton inner diaper is gentle on your child's skin, provides up to 12 hours of protection, and offers your child optimal wetness feedback.

Judes cloth diaper baby with dad weaning from diapers at night

Photo by @isabelplett

Becoming Dry at Night: Eight Tips to Support Your Child

Becoming dry is a major milestone in your child's life. We'll show you the best ways to support your child on this journey.

1. Go to bed with an empty bladder

    Remind your child to go to the toilet before going to bed. Ideally, this will become a fixed part of the bedtime routine. This ensures that they go to bed with as empty a bladder as possible. It also contributes to a peaceful sleep.

    2. Regular Drinking

      Children tend to make up for the fluids they’ve missed throughout the day in the evening, which can significantly hinder becoming dry at night. Therefore, make sure to offer drinks to your child throughout the day so that they consume less liquid in the evening. However, you should never force your child to drink or limit their fluid intake.

      3. Avoid Salty Foods

        Especially in the evening, you should avoid heavily salted food. It can cause thirst in the evening and at night, which in turn makes it harder for your child to hold it.

        4. Please don't wake them!

          Many parents feel the urge to wake their child at night and take them to the toilet. While this ensures the bed stays dry, it hinders the natural process of becoming dry. When the child is woken up, they do not learn to wake up due to the urge to urinate, and their entire rhythm is disrupted.

          5. Make it easy for yourselves

            Some children - like my three-year-old son - find it difficult to get up at night and go to the toilet, even if they notice their urge to urinate in time. The bed is too cozy, the path too long and dark. To make it easier for your child, you could, for example, place a potty right next to the bed. Motion-sensor nightlights can also be helpful. Of course, you can also carry your child to the toilet at night if they show clear signs that they need to go.

            6. Pay Attention to Sizes

              Diapers that are too small or a too tight pajama can continually exert pressure on the bladder. This prevents your child from learning when they truly need to go urgently, as the pressure causes them to go as soon as there's something in the bladder. So make sure to choose loose clothing and the correct diaper size.

              With Judes, we've developed a simple solution, as our diapers come in just two sizes. They can be continuously adjusted via the Velcro fastening, perfectly fitting the shape of your child's body.

              7. Try it without a diaper

                Sometimes, simply doing away with the bulky diaper package allows your child to better learn bladder control. However, this should either come from your child or happen in agreement with them. Never deny your child a diaper simply because you think it's time.

                8. Stay Relaxed

                  The most important tip for weaning off the diaper at night is to stay relaxed. It's crucial to avoid putting pressure on your child and give them the time they need. Don't scold if your child wets the bed at night, and don’t ask them to do better the next night. If the bed stayed dry or your child even went to the toilet on their own, it's best to avoid praising them. Even if well-intended, it could be perceived as pressure.

                  Instead, you can describe to your child what they have achieved. You can also acknowledge how they managed to do it, focusing less on the result and more on the process. This way, your child retains the fun in the process and does not feel judged if occasionally it doesn’t go as well. It turns out that children then learn faster and with more enjoyment. Also tell your child that you understand it can be hard when things don't go so well. Always remember that every child has their own pace, even when it comes to becoming dry.

                  Judes dry at night baby in mom's arms having fun

                  Photo by @madame.vio

                  Practical Tips for Peaceful Nights

                  Often, becoming dry at night is a longer process and not something accomplished within a few days. Especially for the transition phase, the following tips can be helpful:

                  • Cover your child's bed with a waterproof bedsheet or use a waterproof mattress protector. This way, your child can sleep without a diaper without risking any damage to the mattress.
                  • Have change clothes ready so you can quickly and easily change your child at night if their clothing gets wet from urine.
                  • Double make the bed. The most valuable tip for me: Waterproof protector, sheet, waterproof protector, sheet. If your child wets the bed at night, you can simply remove the wet sheet and protector, and your child can quickly resume sleeping without having to remake the bed first.

                  Additionally, it can be helpful to adopt aspects of the elimination communication practice. The earlier you introduce this, the more successful you will be. Here, you respond to nightly restlessness and brief waking periods by holding your child over the toilet or potty. This is done in a semi-sleep state, which is why most children go back to sleep right away.

                  How did you manage nighttime dryness? Feel free to leave a comment!

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