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Potty Training and Sleep…Oh My!!


If you are a parent of a 2 or 3 year old, then this question from one of my clients is probably all too familiar…


Q: My daughter is 2.5 years old and started potty training-which is great, but she is definitely using it as a delay tactic before naps and bedtime, and I don’t know what to do.  She keeps on saying, “Mommy and daddy,I have to pee,”even though we’ve just sat on the potty etc.  If it wereup to her, we’d go back to the potty 10 times…


Also, she doesn’t poop in the potty yet, but consistently poops 5-15 minutes after we close the door for nap and bedtime!  Then, she calls to let us know she has a poop (which is what we’ve trained her to do as she won’t sleep with a dirty diaper).  We’ve tried to get her to sit on the potty for longer periods of time before sleep, but no luck.  I think she likes to be relaxed in her crib and in private.  


Her naps and bedtimes, due to both of these issues, are getting to be later and later and sometimes not at all…and the kid is beyond exhausted and cranky during the day.  She is a kid that needs her sleep and needs her sleep schedule. Help!




Potty training and sleep – can they both happen successfully? Is it possible to maintain your toddler’s great sleep habits while she is potty training? Does she really need to go to the bathroom the minute the light is turned off and you say good night? And, while youknow that you really want her to be potty trained, youalso know that you are so over going back and forth to her when it is time for her to be sleeping!


Here are some tried and true strategies to help you and your toddler be successful at both potty training and getting a good night sleep!


  • When your daughter is awake and asks to use the potty, go with it every time. However, when it is time for sleep and you know that she was just given the opportunity to use the bathroom,ignore the consistent requests.


  • Be sure to limit her fluid intake during the late afternoon and early evening to minimize her need to use the bathroom during the night.


  • As part of the routine before naps and night, give her lots of opportunities to try to use the potty. This way if she asks again (and again) after being put in bed, you can be confident that it is just a delay tactic that you are ignoring and not an actual need. A routine could look something like: go to the potty, put on pj’s, brush teeth (at night), potty, read books, etc, potty, and in bed.


  • For pooping, give her some time alone in her room or crib (wherever her poop preference 🙂 place may be) before sleep. This will give her the chance to take care of her business and then you can come in and change her diaper and do the bedtime routine. This will mean starting the process earlier to allow for this extra time.


  • Use an earlier bedtime as needed. While she is figuring out this potty training thing and calling out more at bedtime to use the bathroom, it is likely taking her longer to fall asleep. Getting her down for the night a bit earlier will help preserve her full night sleep.Keeping her well rested during this transition is so important.


  • Stay consistent. Once she has tried to pee several times during the routine, leave her in hercrib or bed no matter how many times she calls for you. It is very normal for toddlers to start pulling shenanigans at bedtime. Staying very consistent with clear rules and expectations is the key to success.


Our toddlers can be so savvy and smart with their delay tactics. Put these strategies in place and stay one step ahead of your little one as they are learning to be potty trained. Good luck!

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