When should you stop using diapers at night?

With or without? The diaper question is interesting for parents not only from a financial point of view, because they want to save the expensive disposable diapers. Before starting kindergarten at the latest, the question arises of how to get your child dry. Gabriele Haug-Schnabel has specialized in the subject: the behavioral biologist gives tips on how parents should act and explains why some children still need a diaper for a long time at night.

SZ.de: By the age of two and a half at the latest, the pressure on the parents increases when others ask: What, your child is still in diapers? Are these kids really late?

Gabriele Haug-Schnabel: Most children only begin to be interested in their bodies at this age and very few are dry day and night by then. Such critical voices stress parents, of course, but the pressure is often much greater because of childcare: For decades, kindergartens have turned away three-year-olds who were not yet dry - some are still demanding that today. In the crèches, too, because of the poor staffing, the aim is that the little ones no longer have to be changed as soon as possible. Parents then come to my counseling and want tips on how to get their 18-month-old child to go to the potty. This is not an issue for most children at the age of one and a half. Also because the bladder does not yet report to the brain that it is full. Without this feeling it would be pure training to go to the toilet at certain intervals.

How do parents know when their child is ready to try the potty?

When children can name their body parts and feelings and also their needs, for example that they are "very thirsty" or that they are too tired. In any case, it is the right time to arouse interest in the topic when parents observe the following: The child pauses in the game, listens to itself, stares in front of itself - and then continues playing. Some also report that "I took a pee".

Then how do parents react correctly?

It would be wrong to dismiss this message with a succinct "No problem, you have a diaper on". Then the child ignores the process in the future, it doesn't seem to be that important. Others even scold: "Why didn't you say that before?" The toddler cannot do this at all. But noticing it afterwards is an important first step in actually noticing the process. If parents support this positively, the child pays more and more attention to what a full bladder or bowel feels like. In this way it learns to react to the signals. Who then runs with the child fast enough to the toilet or potty, gives him a lot of success.

But right at the beginning the news comes that it is now very urgent, mostly too late.

You really have to be very quick during this time and put on clothes that are as uncomplicated as possible. Anyone who first has to peel the child out of a pair of dungarees has no chance. If it goes wrong, parents should dismiss it with no blame. At most the toilet may be to blame, "it was too far away".

Now the little ones make it to the bathroom on time more and more often. Can parents do something wrong now?

In general, the day nursery or kindergarten and parents, including grandparents, should pull together when it comes to toilet training. And they are not allowed to take a step back, like putting on a diaper again on Friday night because the parents want to sleep longer on Saturdays. Or before strolling through town, so that nothing happens on the way. Then the child realizes that there is another way. So why should she bother to stop playing to run to the bathroom? Of course, if the child is sick and has diarrhea, that's different. But the little ones understand that this is an exception.

Many kindergarten teachers try to get the crèche children dry as early as possible. Does that always make sense?

It is important to remember that getting cleaned up does not mean a loss of care for the child. A mistake that parents also make at home is not to replace the conscious attention and tenderness during diaper changing. The little ones mustn't lose any attention by getting cleaned. Otherwise the child would be stupid to take part. But if the toilet is combined with a fun game, calmly with body contact, in order to continue paying direct attention, and the little ones may be able to choose particularly nice panties, then it is also worthwhile for the child.