Should you wake your child to pee at night?

Child woken up to pee at night

A popular technique used by parents to avoid their child wetting the bed is to wake up their child to go to the toilet at night (also known as ‘lifting’).  Some parents set timers throughout the night to wake up their child for multiple trips to the toilet.  The aim is to reduce wet beds and hopefully cure bedwetting.

Whilst this can be helpful for a few children when transitioning from nappies and it can help keep the bed dry, it’s generally not useful for chronic or older bedwetters.  It usually doesn’t help the child learn how to stay dry in the long term.

However, it may help some parents because their child is less likely to wee the bed that night.

Why waking your child to pee at night doesn't work

When your child gets used to being woken up to go to the toilet, they don’t develop the bladder-brain communication that’s needed for them stay dry every night.  You have effectively taken control of the bladder away from your child.

In addition, when you do this, the child’s bladder might not be full, so they don’t learn to recognise the feeling that the bladder needs emptying, and they need to get up to go.  

Many parents wake their children around the same time every night, just before the parent goes to bed.  This can set a pattern where the child learns to go at that time, whether they have a full bladder or not.  Eventually, when parents stop taking them to the toilet, they may continue to wet the bed at this time. 

A lot of children are still partially or fully asleep when lifted to go to the toilet, and often don’t remember being taken to the toilet.  So they aren’t learning how to wake themselves up to go, or, learning how to hold on.

The child’s brain and bladder have no reason to build communication if you are lifting your child, so it is possible that waking your child to pee could prolong the bed wetting, rather than solve the issue.  

Waking your child to go to the toilet can affect sleep

Having a good night’s sleep is essential for all children, however, for bedwetters, getting sufficient sleep is crucial.  If you wake your child to go to the toilet at night, you will significantly disrupt their natural sleep cycle.  As a result, your child will find it harder to wake up to any sensations of a full bladder.  Therefore, waking your child to pee may be counterproductive to becoming dry at night, and may additionally lead to a very tired and grumpy child, on top of all the stresses of bedwetting.

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What do I do instead of waking my child up to pee?

There are several practical steps you can take to minimise bedwetting:-

  • Get a medical check-up to rule out any underlying heath issues
  • Ask your child to go to the toilet at least twice before they go to bed
  • Additionally, make sure the child is well hydrated throughout the day but restrict fluid intake 1-2 hours before their bedtime
  • Ensure your child gets a regular amount of good quality sleep (including at weekends)
  • Learn what can contribute to, or cause, wet nights.  The more you understand the different aspects to bedwetting, the more you can help your child
  • Talk to your child about how the brain and bladder work, and especially how they need to communicate
  • Another key point is to make sure they aren’t suffering from constipation
  • And finally, find a bedwetting solution that is right for you and your child


While it is understandable that some parents choose to wake their child up to wee, and it does work for some families, it is particularly important to consider that in the long term, it doesn’t usually train the child to stay dry and it might prolong bedwetting.  It doesn’t allow the child to build the essential communication between the brain and bladder needed for dry nights.

If your child is aged five or over and wetting the bed most nights, it is time to find an alternate solution that suits your family and produces lasting results.

As bedwetting is such a hidden issue, it would be helpful to other parents if you could share your stories.  Leave a comment below about your experiences and if this article helped you.  Have you lifted your child to take them to the toilet at night?  Did it help?

13 thoughts on “Should You Wake Your Child To Pee At Night?”

  1. I have been trying the lifting method for 3 years with my 9 year old boy. I’m wondering now if it has in fact prolonged the bed wetting based on this article. It was recommended by his pediatrician. I’m going to try not lifting him to take him to the bathroom and see how that goes.

    1. Thank you for your comment. For some parents, lifting works. They may notice their child becoming dry after a few weeks, or they continue lifting for years, successfully preventing bedwetting. However, if there’s no improvement within a few weeks, it probably won’t help the child learn how to become dry through the night. It can be quite a leap to stop lifting and let him wet the bed; however, it is worth taking. The program not only aims to improve brain-bladder communication but also focuses on setting your child up for success by identifying factors that may contribute to or cause bedwetting. Ultimately, the goal is for him to have dry nights and sleep through without any issues.

  2. I have lifted my child at the same time every night for years ( set alarm for 1pm) however 3 times this week I didn’t lift him
    And he has wet the bed on every occasion at the alarm time !! I just don’t know what to do ?

    1. Thank you for sharing your situation. It’s wise to look into potential underlying factors. Bedwetting can be caused by various factors such as poor or inconsistent communication between the brain and bladder, or even physical factors like constipation (though the constipation may not be obvious). It’s also a good idea to consider the impact of foods, drinks, and sleep.

      If you’re seeking more guidance and a comprehensive approach to managing bedwetting, you might find “Stay Dry at Night” helpful. This approach takes into account both the physiological and lifestyle factors contributing to bedwetting. The member’s toolkit offers a week-by-week guide filled with valuable information and techniques. Personalized recordings are created for your child to help strengthen the communication between the brain and bladder.

      Remember, every child is unique, so finding the right approach might involve a bit of trial and error. Keep up the good work, and with patience and the right strategies, you can work towards fewer wet nights.

  3. I have a 5 year old daughter I have always lifted her to the toilet every night at a certain, to a point if I miss the alarm and I wake up to lift her I find that she has already wet the bed. And now it’s frequent, does it mean i have made things worse?? What can I do now. Because she wets the bed everyday now. Even through she pees before bedtime. What can I do??

    1. Hang in there, it can be frustrating and exhausting dealing with wet nights, but there are lots of ways to help reduce the wet nights. For some children, it is simply that the brain and bladder aren’t talking to each other through the night, and one way to help this is to explain to her how the brain and bladder work and how they need to message each other. Since she is only five, I would start with that and see how you go. In the meantime, I wouldn’t wake her up in the middle of the night to pee. It might help to purchase a Bedmate available through ‘The Midnight Gang’ (found at These easy to use sheet protectors are placed on top of the bottom sheet, and help contain any accidents, reducing the amount of washing until she is dry.

  4. I’m becoming so beside myself and very frustrated. We got him out of nappies and he uses the toilet during the day. At night time we have the routine of having a wee before bed. I have regularly lifted him to take him to the toilet but on reading some articles it seems I’m making it worse. I just feel that he doesn’t want to get out of bed to go to the toilet. He can be dry ALL night and once he wakes up in the morning that’s when he decided to urinate. We are endlessly washing sheets. My partner has now decided to put him back into pull ups and it now seems he’s NEVER dry as a consequence. I feel we have gone backwards not forwards. Please please please advise me what to do. He doesn’t drink an hour before bed. He goes to the toilet regularly and before he gets into bed, he doesn’t drink fizzy pop…what can we do? Thank you in advance

    1. It sounds like you’re facing a frustrating situation, but you’re not alone. It’s common for children to experience bedwetting even after being potty trained during the day. Waking your child to pee might seem like a proactive solution, but as you’ve noted, it may not solve the underlying issue. It may well be that he can’t wake up sufficiently from his sleep quickly enough to get to the toilet in time. Going back to pull-ups can give everyone a rest, especially when everyone is getting frustrated and a little sleep-deprived. Don’t do this when he is starting to become dry, though, as it will set you back. Here are some tips:

      Encourage Toileting Independence: Instead of waking your child to pee, empower him to take responsibility for his own toileting needs. Encourage him to use the bathroom before bed and reassure him that it’s okay to get up during the night if he needs to go.

      Use Protective Bedding: Invest in waterproof bed-wetting mats that go over the bed sheets, such as
      Consider consulting with his doctor. They can help rule out any underlying medical issues.

      Then, if there isn’t any medical issue, consider purchasing a bedwetting solution such as Stay Dry at Night. I produce beautiful recordings that help get that brain and bladder talking to each other through the night. Moreover, I provide a wealth of information regarding what can contribute to or cause wet nights. We want that bladder to have the capacity to fully expand through the night so that he can wake up dry in the morning and be able to get to the toilet in time!

      Remember, every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another.

      Hang in there, and things will get better.

  5. Like others here, we’ve been lifting our son before we go to bed and now I feel so stupid. We’ve been doing it for about a year. He’s five.

    How much damage have we done? Thank you.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience. I understand your concern, but please be reassured that you haven’t done any harm. Waking children at night to use the bathroom works for some families, but it’s not universally effective and doesn’t always help the child learn how to stay dry at night. The key is to learn what can cause or contribute to wet nights so that you can set him up for success, and help him understand how the brain and bladder need to learn to talk to each other. You’re doing a great job by looking for the best approach for your child, and exploring other options can be a positive step forward in this journey.

  6. Mom of 2 loves

    Could emotions affect this? I just started lifting because my almost dry at night 4 year old suddenly pees in the bed every night. She also just had a new baby sister that she sometimes gets jealous of. Her doctor says she doesn’t seem to have any issues and the peeing started the day after we tried to drop the night nappies. We were so close now I’m wondering do I have to potty train her for night dryness afresh?

    1. It sounds like your 4-year-old might be experiencing a whirlwind of emotions with the arrival of her new sister. Emotions can definitely impact nighttime wetting, especially during significant changes like this. Alongside emotions, changes in diet, quality of sleep and quantity, hydration, and bowel habits can also play a role. Offering extra comfort and support during this adjustment period can make a big difference. Revisiting potty training for nighttime dryness may be necessary. If you’re concerned, consulting your GP for personalized advice is always a good idea. Hang in there, you’re doing great!

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