Helping Older Kids in Diapers Transition: Parent’s Guide

Written by Daisy
Last updated:
Reviewed by Margaret

Are you a parent struggling with potty training or dealing with older kids in diapers? Fret not! I’ll reveal all the details you need to know about navigating this tricky territory. 

With the right approach, your child will smoothly transition from diapers to underwear.

Wondering how?

Let me give you the answers!

Concerns About Older Kids in Diapers

The idea of older children still wearing diapers can raise some legitimate concerns. However, some parents think there is no specific age at which kids should stop using diapers. They believe the decision should depend on the child’s development and preparedness.

But, it’s completely normal to be worried at some point. That’s why I’ll take you through all possible situations and solutions. 

Old Kids in Diapers Is a Legitimate Concern

It’s not so unusual for older children, up to 5 or 6 years old, to wear diapers. But when they get older, problems could come with it. 

For instance, if a child starts school and still wears diapers, they may feel ashamed. Moreover, parents may fear that this hinders their child’s ability to become self-confident.

Normal Age Range for Children to Stop Wearing Diapers and Potty Training

Children stop using diapers and begin potty training at a wide range of ages. For example, some kids show signs as early as 18 months. But, it is not uncommon for children to not be ready until 3 or 4 years.

Sometimes, cultural or gender biases can influence how people think about potty training. Some people might assume that girls learn to use the toilet sooner than boys. Or that older kids who wear diapers are just being lazy or spoiled.

Parents need to remember that every child is different, and there isn’t one perfect way to potty train. 

Ask Why Your Older Kids are Wearing Diapers

If your older child still wears diapers, it’s natural to worry. But it’s essential to figure out why they’re still using them. Physical, emotional, or psychological factors may cause issues in potty training.

Let’s go through each of them.

Physical Development and Readiness of the Kids

Older children may also need diapers due to their physical development. For instance, if your child has a small bladder, they might need to go to the toilet more often. 

That’s why they find it challenging to hold their urine for extended periods. Let me tell you more about it below.

Your Child Has a Smaller Bladder

Sometimes a smaller bladder could be due to a medical problem, like a urinary tract infection. Another reason could be an overactive bladder. But often, it’s just their body’s natural way, and they need to learn how to handle their bladder size better.

Parents can help a child with a smaller bladder by reminding them to go often to the bathroom. They can also set up regular bathroom breaks, especially during activities. If necessary, a doctor might prescribe medication to help with problems.

Your Child Still Wets the Bed

Another reason some older kids wear diapers is that they may still wet the bed at night. Many children, especially boys, have trouble with bedwetting. Potential reasons are physical growth delays, hormonal imbalances, or emotional issues. Health conditions like sleep apnea or diabetes can also contribute to bedwetting.

Emotional and Psychological Issues That May Contribute to Delayed Potty Training

Emotional and psychological issues can cause delayed potty training in older kids. Life events like moving or divorce can cause stress and make potty training difficult. Abuse, whether physical or emotional, can make it harder for children to learn how to use the potty. This can cause negative emotions and stress, which can delay progress. 

Parents need to provide a supportive environment that encourages positive reinforcement during the process.

Your Child Just Isn’t Ready

Older kids may wear diapers because they aren’t ready for the toilet yet. This can be tough for parents who want their children to use the bathroom like a grown-up. 

But it’s important to let kids go at their own speed. Pushing too hard can make things worse.

Kids may fear using the toilet or need help understanding the process. This often happens with children who have experienced changes, such as starting daycare.

Your Child Has Anxiety

Children who feel anxious may struggle with potty training, too. They may be scared of going to the bathroom or using the toilet.

Here are some tips that could help anxious children during potty training:

  • Use picture books or videos to explain the process of potty training to your child. Seeing other children using the potty can help normalize the experience for them.
  • Let your child pick out their potty seat or underwear. This can give them a sense of ownership and control over the process.
  • Consider using a reward system, such as a sticker chart, to motivate your child to use the potty. This can help them feel a sense of accomplishment and progress.
  • If your child resists using the potty, try introducing small changes gradually. Try sitting on the potty with their clothes on or just sitting on it for a few minutes.
  • Use positive language when talking about potty training. Avoid shaming or negative comments.

Parental Readiness and Willingness to Potty Training

A parent’s willingness to potty train their child can affect their progress. Less support or reinforcement can decrease a child’s motivation.

Hesitant or unsure parents can confuse and frustrate children. Committed parents who provide support and encouragement can help their child progress. 

Parents should read, talk to other parents, and consult with their child’s pediatrician. This preparation can boost parents’ confidence and help them handle challenges. 

What to Do When Your Child Isn’t Ready to Give Up Diapers

If your child is not ready to give up diapers, approach the situation patiently. Some tips to help encourage potty training include:

Understanding The Child’s Individual Needs and Preferences

Every child is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another. Understand what works best for your child to make potty training more successful and fun. Everyone is different, so tailoring your approach to fit your child’s needs can be helpful.

Using Positive Reinforcement And Praise

Children respond well to positive reinforcement and praise. To help your child during potty training, give them praise and small rewards for each step. This can motivate your child and make the process more positive and enjoyable for both of you.

Maintaining Consistency in Potty Training

Consistency is key when it comes to potty training. First of all – stick to a routine. Encourage your child to use the bathroom at regular intervals throughout the day.

Another important aspect of consistency is communication. Ensure you use consistent language and terminology when talking to your child about using the bathroom. This will help them understand what they need to do to succeed.

The Importance of Seeking Professional Help When Necessary

Talk to a doctor or specialist if your child is having trouble with potty training. They can give you advice and help your child overcome any problems.

older kids in diapers


What Is The Age to Stop Diapers at Night?

There is no set age when children should stop wearing diapers at night. Some kids might be fully potty trained during the day. However, they still need some nighttime protection for a few months.

And that’s completely fine!

Is Nighttime Potty Training Possible?

Yes, your child can learn to use the potty at night, too. Just remind them to go before bed and limit their drinks.

As a mother, I remember the challenges of potty training my child at night. But I didn’t lose hope. 

One tip that worked well for us was creating a consistent routine and using a phone alarm to remind our child to use the bathroom during the night.

To my surprise, the alarm worked wonders! Not only did it help my daughter stay dry throughout the night, but it also boosted her confidence. My little girl could recognize her body’s signals and take responsibility for using the toilet independently.

Gender Differences In Potty Training?

Both boys and girls can learn how to use the toilet. Some parents may find that their sons take longer to learn how to use the toilet independently. Others may have a harder time getting their daughters to sit still long enough to use the bathroom. 

However, these differences are not always based on gender. Many children will need personalized strategies and approaches to help them succeed.


Dealing with older kids in diapers requires patience and sensitivity. Try to understand their situation and provide support rather than rushing the process. Children can gain confidence and overcome this challenge with the appropriate backing and guidance.

Good luck, dear parents!

Photo of author
Daisy Martinez, a Certified Financial Planner and mother of two, blends finance expertise from Ohio State and Anderson School of Management with hands-on parenting insights. Founder of "" and "", she's passionate about guiding parents in financial and parenting realms.

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