Nighttime pottying can be a great addition to your EC practice, but only if it helps everyone get more sleep. In today’s episode, Nicole troubleshoots 3 questions from mamas who want to catch more pees while still catching their z’s.
You Will Hear:
- Important considerations for nighttime EC
- Which back-ups work best for nighttime
- Strategies for getting baby pottied quickly and quietly and back to sleep
- How to use different potties to improve your nighttime routine
- When to move from nighttime EC into nighttime potty training
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- A Few Thoughts on Nighttime EC - Podcast #193
- Top Hat Potty
- Mini Potty
- Night-time EC - Podcast #164
- Dream Pee - Podcast #94
- Tiny Potty Training Book
- Go Diaper Free Book
- “Night Potty” Board Book
- Go Diaper Free Store
- Tiny Undies Store
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
EPISODE 220: Night, Night, Night Potty
Hello and welcome to the Go Diaper Free podcast. I'm your host for today's episode, Nicole Cheever, Go Diaper Free Certified Coach and mama of three kiddos who all did EC and potty training at different ages and stages.
Welcome back everyone. This is episode 220, talking all about EC and potty training at night. You can find the show notes over at godiaperfree.com/220. Leave a comment, ask a question and find all of the links to everything I will mention in today's show over there at the link.
We have three questions to get to today, all about nighttime potty training and EC. I want to start out by saying that nighttime EC or potty training is a choice. It's definitely not required for success. Many will decide to forgo nighttime EC or potty training. And you can wait with EC to work on nighttime until your baby is waking up dry, usually nine mornings out of 10, which can happen as early as a year old. With potty training, you can choose to focus on daytime or just daytime and nap times, and then tackle nighttime when you feel like you've got a handle on the daytime. Whatever you choose, the most important consideration is the quality of sleep for the whole family. If nighttime EC allows your family to get a better overall quality of sleep, go for it, absolutely. But if it's holding you back, if it's adding to the sleeplessness, adding to the stress, just skip it. It's not worth sacrificing your likely already-compromised sleep, or your baby's. More on that in Episode 193, which I will link in the show notes.
And now, let's get to the specific questions. We've got three today and the first is from Jenny.
Jenny: Hello, my name is Jenny and I'm from Utrecht, which is in the Netherlands. My baby is one year old. My question is how do you deal with nighttime pottying when you notice that your baby needs to pee but she's still too sleepy to actually go on the potty? Right now I notice that she keeps waking up a little bit and then she falls asleep again, but her sleep isn't really like a good quality of sleep, and my sleep definitely isn't either at this moment. So yeah, that's it.
Thank you, Jenny. It sounds like maybe not pottying her is still really disrupting sleep. It sounds like you're saying that she needs to potty and so it's keeping her awake and of course that's keeping you awake as well. So there are a couple things that you can try. If you're nursing her back to sleep, maybe try nursing her over the Top Hat Potty. Sometimes, I know my baby, when she was really small, she used to really want to eat first. I would try to take her to the potty when we were first trying nighttime EC, and she was not having it. She wasn't too sleepy, but she was really fussy because she wanted to eat first, and then she would usually pee in her back-up. So maybe try nursing her over the top hat potty if you're nursing her to sleep and you're finding that she does still pee in the back-up after you've nursed her.
You can also try experimenting with the back-up. I'm not sure what you're using, but if you think it's best to just try to get her back to sleep, you can try using a disposable of some kind. I know that Andrea really likes the Dyper brand. I use Nest and I really love them, they're another compostable brand. If you use a disposable, then it's more wicking and they don't feel wet, and it may allow her to fall asleep more easily and not be as disrupted by that discomfort.
If you're already using the disposable and it's just not cutting it, it's still really disrupting her sleep, pick a weekend or a couple days where it's maybe okay for you to not get as much sleep, or maybe you and your partner are both home. Maybe it's a long weekend and you'll have an opportunity throughout the day during that time period to catch a few naps. And then you can experiment with a few things without having fear of losing more sleep and then having to get back to work or your normal routine.
Try letting her fall back to sleep the first time, and then if she wakes up really soon after, it's potty time. Clearly she's not going to just fall back to sleep and be fine with it, it's bothering her. If changing the back-up hasn't worked, try waking her up a little bit more. I know this sounds really counterintuitive, but you may find a fine line there, whether it's with nursing, whether it's with singing, but doing something that will wake her up a little bit more.
I know for my baby, trying to use the top hat potty, she a lot of times is just far too asleep, or even trying to hold her over the sink. And now she's bigger and a little bit heavier for me to do that anyway, because she's about 15 months. But if you have a seat reducer and you can actually sit her on the potty on the seat reducer, that may wake her up just enough more where she will go potty and then she can go back to sleep more peacefully and restfully and actually stay asleep.
And I don't know what it is, there must be some kind of biological function where, even during the day, my baby, if I give her her water bottle on the potty, she starts to pee. And I know sometimes if I decide to do nighttime EC and I put her on the seat reducer and she starts to kind of fuss, if I nurse her there on the seat reducer, oftentimes she'll pee right away. And so it's a little bit tricky. Sometimes you might need to use the Mini Potty on a countertop so they're up at your height. I can just kneel in front of our big potty and offer her the breast and she nurses and she starts to fall asleep. If you're giving your baby a bottle, you can try the same thing, or a sippy cup, something like that. And that may sort of inspire her to pee. Something about that biological function. If they need to pee and they start drinking, a lot of times they will go.
So those are a few tips for you to try. I'm also going to link podcast 164, which is another mama's experience with nighttime EC that might have a few more insights for you. And I hope that was helpful for you, Jenny.
The next question is going to be from Julia. Let's take a listen.
Julia: Good day, this is Julia in far north Queensland in Australia. Just wondering about our baby, 12 months old, who... Is it okay that at night, we've got her in reusable nappies. So when she wees herself, she realizes and wakes up and she screams because she wants to go back to sleep. Is that okay? Is that a normal part of EC or is there something else we should try? Thank you.
Thank you Julia. Short answer, yes, that's totally normal. It is normal for them to be sensitive and that's good. Practicing EC helps to maintain their sensitivity. But of course, sleep is more important when we're talking about nighttime. As far as, “is it okay?” You're using reusable nappies, for those of us in the US that's cloth diapers, and that's okay if it's okay with you. There's really no wrong way to practice EC, so it's about finding the back-up and finding the methods and the routine that work best for you and your family.
If you would like to switch the diapers so that nighttime isn't quite as dramatic for her, that could be really helpful. Just as I mentioned before with Jenny, you can switch to a disposable at night. With your baby being around a year old, you might find that if you offer a dream pee, she will start coming up dry. My baby is 15 months and she's probably been coming up dry about 90% of the time since she was about a year or 13 months, but we do a dream pee. I don't know necessarily that you could categorize it as a dream pee. It's partly what I suggested to Jenny earlier in the episode, but my baby almost always wakes up about an hour and a half to two hours after I put her down to bed. And that's usually when I'm going to sleep. So right as I'm going to sleep, she wakes up, she has to pee and she wants to nurse. She's already awake, so that's not really a dream pee, and I take her to the potty. And then I put her in the disposable and, nine times out of 10, she wakes up with that one dry and we use it again for the following night.
So don't think you're going to have to necessarily invest in a lot of disposable diapers. Buy a pack, you might find that you're throwing them out before they're actually soiled, because the tabs are falling off and they're just kind of falling apart. But a dream pee is going to be more when they're mostly asleep and either they fuss a little bit, or a true dream pee is you've put them to bed and then when you are going to bed, you take them to the potty when they're in a deep sleep. And so that does require a little bit of rousing. You want to keep the lights low and the sounds quiet and everything and just get right down to business. But if you try a dream pee, that may relieve her enough that she can sleep the rest of the night, or at least a longer stretch, without waking up and screaming.
Those are the two main points I have for you, is switching that back-up and trying a dream pee. And again, maybe picking a weekend or a holiday where you can experiment with this and just find the combination that is going to allow you and your baby to get the most sleep, because that is the most important thing for everybody. Sleep is so, so vital.
Thank you so much for your question, Julia. The last one we have here is from Laura.
Laura: Hi Andrea. My name is Laura, I live in Connecticut. My son is 19 months old and here is my question. I've been doing EC with my 19 month old son since birth. We bed share, and at this point I typically potty him once or twice a night, depending on how much he's nursing in his sleep. During each dream pee I'm still holding him over the sink while he nurses and he's now 29 pounds. I want to transition him to sitting on his regular potty in the bathroom without having to nurse during those dream pees. Any tips for how to do this smoothly? Thank you.
Thank you, Laura. You must be one strong mama. I definitely quit holding my baby over the sink a lot sooner than that, because they can get heavy, so good job with that. But absolutely, I can see why you want to start transitioning. The Mini Potty is a great idea, definitely to save your arms, and I would put a cozy on it for nighttime. That will help him not to wake up too much. It will just have that nice soft little barrier so the seat won't be cold. And you can either put the mini potty on a bathroom counter so it's at your level, or like I mentioned, I like to use a seat reducer and it's a good height for me. I can kneel right in front of our big potty with the seat reducer on it with my baby on there, and I can nurse her if I need to.
I've gone through this a little bit too. We also bed share. She's nursing all night long and, same thing, one or two times a night seems to be perfect for her. But if you're trying to get out of the habit of nursing on the potty, start with nursing on the potty you want to use, so either the mini potty or the seat reducer, and then gradually back off of it. Start to put them on that potty once they get comfortable with it, and only offer the nursing if he starts to get pretty upset and seems like he's waking up too much. Then you can offer the nursing. But you may find that he'll eventually be able to just go ahead and pee and you can get right back to business, getting the diaper back on and then nursing him once you get back to bed.
If that's not working, you can also start to have your husband do the dream pees. This can be difficult. Any time I hand my baby over to my husband either for the dream pee or the morning wake-up pee, my baby starts to cry. She's not having it, she likes her routine. She's like, "Where's mama going?" even though I'm still right there in the bed. But having dad start to do that, or your partner, whoever is there, can really help to break baby of that habit.
Whatever you do, he's not going to love it. You're going to have a period, obviously, where he's resisting thinking, "Why are we changing this mom? It's working for me so great." So just prepare yourself for that. And again, maybe switch on a weekend, or a period where you have a couple days where you can either sneak in naps or it's okay for your sleep to be a little bit broken. But I think you'll find pretty quickly, if you're consistent with this, that he'll be able to get down to business. Because he knows that once you get back to bed, since you're bed sharing and you're nursing in bed, that, “if I pee right now, I'll get my diaper or my back-up back on, we'll get back to bed, and we can nurse as soon as we get there.” That will be the incentive for him. The quicker you get through it, the quicker he can get back into bed and nursing.
The full dream pee instructions, for all three of you ladies, are in episode 94, and I will link that. We also have a Nighttime EC 101 MiniCourse.
And for you, Laura, your baby at 19 months, you're almost getting to potty training. That's not really EC anymore, so it's a really similar process, choosing the back-up that is most likely for them to wake up in before they're going to pee. And sometimes that's no back-up. With my oldest, we did the Tiny Potty Training Experience and we actually had him completely bottomless in bed for a month or two, and then we started experimenting with putting undies on him. So that's going to be pretty soon for you if you think you're ready, if you've wrapped up daytime and you think you're ready to do nighttime, especially if these dream pees are working and he's coming up dry most of the time. It will be time to wrap it up. You can either do a little nighttime Potty Training Experience like that, or check out that Hybrid Plan that's included in the Go Diaper Free book. And that's in the resource center, it's the Optional Hybrid Plan for 12 to 18 Months, and that covers nighttime as well.
For all of you, we also have the "Night Potty" board book. This is a great little book integrating a dream pee into the book. The little kid wakes up and realizes that they need to pee, and then it goes through the process of doing that and getting right back to bed. So that boardbook is at godiaperfree.com and Tiny Undies. I'll link that as well.
And any of you out there who have done nighttime EC or potty training, what did that look like for you? How did you get the most sleep? Please head over to godiaperfree.com/220 for the comment section for the episode. Let us know what worked for you, ask any questions. If you're struggling with the same thing, we'd love to help you out and troubleshoot that. And thanks so much for listening. We'll see you over there on the blog.
Thanks so much for listening. This is the Go Diaper Free podcast at godiaperfree.com. We'll see you next time.
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