An interview with Diane Hurford about night time toilet training.

Diane Hurford

This week we have been chatting to Diane Hurford, the inventor of Brolly Sheets, a company that has always been about making life a little bit easier for Mums and Dads.  It started 12 years ago with the waterproof bed sheet with wings, and has grown to pretty much waterproofing the whole family!


What was your inspiration for starting Brolly Sheets?


I started Brolly Sheets 12 years ago in New Zealand and was inspired through my experience of night time bed wetting with my own children. My daughter slept in the bottom bunk and I found it really difficult to change the sheet after an accident, and every time I had to change the bed I bumped my head on the top bunk.  This literally knocked into my head the idea that there must be an easier and quicker solution to bedwetting.


I started by cutting up some sheets, adding a waterproof layer and wrapping them around the bed, and before long friends were asking me to make some for them.  I then took the sheets to a local play centre that I was involved with, and parents there started asking to make them some.  The next stage was to sell through local markets and I now sell Brolly Sheets in Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK, Canada and France.



At what age do you think parents should start training at night?


We recommend that for girls around the age of 4 is a good age to start training at night, and a little bit later for boys. Starting in the spring/summer is a good idea as it’s easier to get your child and you up in the night when it’s not too cold and dark.


What are the signs that suggest that a child is ready to train at night?


The main signs are:


  • Waking up a couple of times a week with dry nappies.
  • Waking up with warm nappies, suggesting the accidents have just occurred and so they have actually managed to go through the night without an accident.
  • Sometimes the child will ask to try to go without nappies.


What are the common concerns or questions parents ask you for help with?


Sleepovers and school camps are a big concern for parents.  We recommend using a sleeping bag liner.  If the child is away for one night then it’s fine to use it on it’s own, however if they are away for multiple nights you could put a nappy  / pull ups at the bottom of the liner and get the child to wriggle into the nappy discreetly once they are in their sleeping bag liner.  We also recommend that parents talk to the leaders to help manage the situation.


Parents often ask us about the age at which children should be dry through the night.  We think parents put themselves under pressure to have their children out of night time nappies before they go to school, but some children aren’t ready by then.  If the child is around 6 or 7 we recommend using a bed alarm.



What are your top 5 night time potty training tips?


  1. Go to the toilet just before bed time and ensure they sit there for long enough to fully empty their bladder.  Explain the importance of this in language they understand.  I used to tell my daughter to imagine her bladder was like a plastic bag and she needed to squeeze all the wee out.
  2. Limit drinks after dinner. If they have had enough drinks throughout the day they shouldn’t need much before bed time.  What goes in – has to come out.
  3. Prepare the bed with waterproof sheets and spare pyjamas, and prepare the child. Tell them what’s happening and what’s expected.  Explain that they may have an accident, but that it’s nothing to worry about.
  4. Use a night light or leave a light on to help he child feel more comfortable if they need to get up to the toilet in the night.
  5. Keep the child in a routine where they go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time. We sometimes hear of relapses when children are out of routine, for example, while on holiday.



Is there a common myth or misunderstanding that you would most like to dispel?


I often hear people say that children should be dry by the time they go to big school.  Parents talk as if it’s something in their power to control and that if their child is not trained by big school, then it is a failing on them.  There can be lots of reasons for kids to be older and still wetting.  It can be hereditary, medical, a small bladder etc.  It is not bad parenting, and parents shouldn’t feel guilty about it, or get competitive about it.


Accidents are also to be expected; only a small minority of children never have any night time accidents.


People sometimes leave night time training too long before they give it a go, thinking it will be easier this way, but sometimes children need to go through having accidents and feeling the wetness before their brain and bladder connect and they either learn to hold on, or to wake up and go to the toilet in the night.



You currently sell Brolly Sheets in many different countries.  Are there any differences in the way night time training is tackled in different the countries?


The only difference we have found is that in countries where more children use cloth nappies they do seem to train earlier in the daytime and at night.  Otherwise, children across the globe appear to have similar experience and trends.



About Brolly Sheets


Brolly sheets sit on top of the bottom sheet and the wings tuck in under the mattress. Your child sleeps on the unique 100% cotton, comfy top. The absorbent middle layer and waterproof, yet breathable, backing keeps the bottom sheet & mattress dry.

These brolly sheets are super stylish, with their gingham, colours and prints, and are a hard working but smart addition to the bedroom kit of a potty training toddler! Long after your toddler is dry at night you may find they have the occasional accident, these sheets are great for ongoing piece of mind and protection. They are hard wearing, good quality look good and are cotton like to the touch for your child.


Brolly Sheets are available to buy from Toddler Barn.



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