This is how we got Cooper to stop peeing the bed at night at 2.5 years old.
This is a re-post of an article originally published by Andrea Olson on March 14, 2018
Hi. It’s time to take a peek into my household today and see what Andrea’s doing to potty her 2.5 yr old and 1 yr old at night.
As you know, with elimination communication, things change. Daily.
We have ups and downs, ins and outs, ebbs and flows, and in the end…we have a happy baby and mama/daddy who’ve done what’s right for them regarding using diapers as back-ups and not teaching that they’re a permanent toilet. Got it.
This can throw people majorly off, and in today’s post I’d like to normalize things a bit for ya and share what’s been happening in our house, routine-wise.
How we got our 2.5 yr old out of diapers at night
1. We changed his backup.
For Cooper, my first order of TinyUps cloth pull-up covers came in about 6 weeks ago and we immediately ditched the nighttime disposable backup diaper we’d previously been using (see this post for my July 2017 public admission that I’d bought a package of size 5 diapers).
So we ditched the disposables.
We did not just fly blindly.
In addition to changing the nighttime backup to something that more aligned with our environmental and hygiene beliefs, we, the parents, also made some distinctive changes to our support routine.
2. We added in a before-bedtime story reminder.
We’ve been reading my new board book, Night Potty, to him right before lights out. It has given him a wonderful and fun reminder, right before he drifts off to sleep, to wake to pee and ask for help from Daddy. It’s been a huge hit! (And it happens to be on pre-order right now – here.)
3. We’ve been giving him a nightly “dream pee.”
Next, we began inserting a “dream pee” sometime between 10pm and 12 midnight every night, like clockwork.
When whomever – mommy or daddy – has stayed up the latest gets ready for bed, that person will go upstairs and potty Cooper without waking him up.
How we do this: we whisper to him “let’s go peepee” and rouse him only enough to get his bottoms off and pick him up out of bed. We don’t turn on any lights (there is a dim LED nightlight in the room already) and we set him on the mini potty next to his bed (it has a little circular rug underneath it for warmth, and any splashes).
Tiny Ups: cloth pull-up covers
Nighttime EC Minicourse: Learn how to potty your baby at night
Night Potty board book: A before-bedtime board book
He lays his head onto our knees and we cue “psssss” or “go peepee” and we listen for the sound of pee hitting the potty. We will gently ask “all done?” or he will sit up and say “done” and we will lay him back in bed and pull his TinyUps and his PJ bottoms back up.
Covers on. Kiss on cheek, and immediately out of the room. We use white noise so it’s on all the time in the background.
The results are in!
The result of all this work? We’ve had two accidents at night over the past 6 weeks of our new routine. Those two accidents happened when we forgot to do the Dream Pee.
The plan? To continue forward as we have.
(If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…?) :)
We will also adjust if/when needed. My best guess? Probably by 3 yrs old we’ll stop the Dream Pee. And the TinyUps.
I also want to share that this was the icing on the cake we’d already figuratively baked.
We didn’t only do these few things out of nowhere. Nope, we added all the above to what we’d already done in the past, which will be mentioned in my overall tips for nighttime dryness post, up next.
- a final pee,
- limiting fluids before bedtime,
- ensuring the bed is adequately protected, and
- a morning pee right when he wakes up.
Now let’s look at our 1 year old’s nighttime progress:
How ditching daytime diapers has affected our 1 year old’s nighttime dryness
We took Branson out of daytime diapers when he turned 12 months old, 6 weeks ago. We currently use TinyUps solo during the day, disposable diaper (Seventh Generation) during naps, long outings, and at night.
Just a few days after we changed his daytime backup and began teaching self-dressing with every pottytunity, Branson began to wake up dry at night.
He had been refusing nighttime pottytunities for the past 4 months so I just haven’t been offering. He’d wake up wet, I’d change him and nurse back to sleep, about 2 times a night.
However, when he began to wake up dry I found that I now had two choices:
- I can try to potty him, or,
- I can let him be and put him back to sleep dry.
I’ve found that, these days – NEWS FLASH! – he *will* pee in the top hat potty while nursing and I can get him back to sleep at the first wake-up around 1am every night. So that’s progress!
I’ve also found that he will allow me to put him back to sleep dry without issue, so I’ve also done that on occasion.
So, I guess for us it doesn’t matter if I potty or put him back to sleep…so long as he’s dry, it’s good for both of us. If he’s wet, I change him.
The second thing to note is that, since we ditched daytime diapers at 12 months old, he is now waking up dry in the morning and staying dry for several minutes.
This is around 6am, when he wakes up to start his day.
On the way down the stairs from his room he signals to me the whole walk – psssss! – and blows raspberries – which is a prompt the babysitter has organically been doing with him – and then when I set him on the toilet (with the weepod reducer on it), I busy myself with his clothes and the mirror and turn my back to give him privacy, and he pees a nice long one.
Sometimes he’s dry, sometimes wet. But I always offer.
Then he sits on his stool and I help him “self-dress,” putting on his TinyUps and pants together for his daytime backup.
So, looks like daytime progress DOES influence nighttime patterns, in my 1 yr old’s case.
And that is it for today’s update.
2 children under 3 years old (of my 4 under 7 years old)…both with dramatic changes in night dryness behavior…both because of parental support (ie: elimination communication).
I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
Please comment below with how nighttime pottying is currently working (or not) for you!
I look forward to hearing your comments! xx Andrea
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Tiny Ups: cloth pull-up covers
Nighttime EC Minicourse: Learn how to potty your baby at night
My 3 year old started ec at about 4 or 5 months old and went off day diapers at 18 months. It took a little over a year to reduce pee accidents to almost none. Almost no poop accidents after 18 months. But he almost never wakes up dry in the morning and we still use diapers at night. The biggest problems I have with night diapers is that they sometimes leak and it’s extra work for me to make the bed when I hadn’t planned to, diapers are expensive, and diapers are bad for the environment. My guy Was a terrible sleeper as a baby and somehow developed into an amazing sleeper as a toddler so I don’t want to start dream pees now and mess up the great sleeper he’s blossomed into. I’m also hesitant to reduce food and drink at night because he’s finicky and allowing him to eat and drink helps him sleep enough not to wake up too early and ask for milk with mommy. The main obstacle to his night dryness, though, is he no longer minds wearing diapers at night and is not motivated to ditch them. I’m not sure what else to do to motivate him. Maybe if his baby sister, who has been ec’d almost since birth and who is now 7.5 months, ditches night diapers first then he will be motivated. His cousin who is the same age no longer needs diapers at night but my son is not influenced by that. Guess I need to let him come to that desire on his own. I looked at your new night potty book and it’s cute but I think my son is too old for it. He doesn’t need daddy to take him to the potty. He can go when he wants. He just has to be awake (not too groggy) and want to.
Hey Heidi! How old is he now? And btw you can skip the page of the baby in the book asking for daddy to help. it does mention “but when I know how, I do it by myself.” :)
Great post! I was wondering… How long after putting the littles to sleep, do you wake them for a dream pee?
Four or five nights a week my 18 month old has been waking up dry for about two months now and we give lots of recognition and praise for that which she loves. But now I’d like to help her go seven for seven and start waking her at night (which also means no more sleepers!)
Thanks in advance
Hey Krista! Thanks!! If you put her to bed at 7, dream pee around 11 or 12. :)
We are in a really similar situation with our 24 month old. We ditched nighttime diapers, on a whim, at about 21 months old and it went perfectly for the first 3 days, and with just the occasional accident since then (mostly if he had eaten badly and was constipated). Then last week he started wetting the bed multiple times per day (even one time during a nap!) and it was bizarre. I credit it to some extreme changes to the routine that are happening, between our daycare provider being sick/unavailable and us preparing to move out of state! I think he’s been waking up needing to pee and is too tired to get out and sit on the potty himself, which he used to do just fine.
Things have gotten better (but not all the way back to normal) in the last few days as we’ve been more intentional about reminding him about his potty, but I think we do probably need to reinstitute a nightly dream pee; the nights when we’ve done one have allowed him to stay dry. I just ordered the Night Potty book, though, and I’m excited for it to arrive!!
Great Carissa!! Sounds like you guys are back on track. And I’m jealous – Coop will NOT get out of bed and use the potty *right next to him* and it drives me nutso. I missed the dream pee the last two nights b/c husband is out of town and…wet TinyUps (but not a wet bed, thank goodness). Thank you for sharing and for supporting the board book! xx Andrea
Thanks for the great post, Andrea! My 13-month old has been wearing your Tiny Trainers + wool cover for about 4 months now, day and night. She has amazing bladder control, or just a big bladder, haha.. more on this later.. There was a time that she didn’t need to pee all night (I offered but consistently she wouldn’t go so then I switched to only offering when she has trouble settling back to sleep (we co-sleep and I nurse her back to sleep), like popping on and off the breast or falling asleep only to wake up again after a few mins. That was rare, and I totally enjoyed not having to get out of bed for a few weeks, but then that time ended and now she’s back to waking up dry around 1am. (Her bedtime is about 9pm.) I nurse her for a bit then take her to the bathroom where she does a pee in the sink. More often than not she pees, sometimes she refuses or just falls asleep in my arms while nursing (while I’m holding her over the sink!). Anyway. Here’s the weird thing. Every morning when she wakes up I offer. But she never goes. The longest she’s gone is nearly 11 hours!! See, huge bladder capacity or what?!). Her “dream pee” last night was at midnight and I offered her the potty several times this morning until eventually I just put a cloth diaper on her because I got tired of offering and her refusing. She finally wet her diaper at 11am – I saw her do it, she has a pee face and grunt haha. Is that normal? Sorry if slightly off topic. To answer your question in relation to your blog post, we are doing great at night. She’s been dry at night for a long time now, even when she was still in cloth diapers. Of course we’d get the occasional wet trainers (usually when I’m way too exhausted to get up), but those are few and far between. Babies really are amazing. Everyday I am still amazed. And we’ve been doing EC since she was 6 days old. Thank you thank you for all the work you do and the resources and support that you share with the world.
Aw, Frances, you are sooo welcome! Thank you for sharing your journey with us (yes, it is normal for a child to be able to hold it *that long* – if it hurt, she’d let it out. Amazing!). Sooo glad to read of your progress! xx Andrea
I wonder if nap and night time training can help with day time dryness. My 21 month old doesn’t wear nappies for his naps, and he stays dry for hours at a time, but he needs nappies during the day. In my case, nap time training him has been a breeze, whilst day time has been quite a challenge. I’m very proud of his nap and night time progress, and I really hope that he will start to stay dry during the day too. Perhaps nap/night time dryness can lead to day-time dryness?
I’ve definitely heard of that, Nura! Count your blessings! And know that eventually, with a lot of teaching and support, it will all fall into place. xx Andrea
I kept trying to do dream pees with my 17 month old and she yells “no no!” Well tonight, she woke up a bit (I know it was to pee) I put her on the potty (with cozy) and she didn’t want to sit, so I quietly just began to whisper a story to her and because she was distracted with listening, was able to relax to pee, yay! now she can keep sleeping dry.
I will keep trying to do dream pee– but if she’s yelling at me for it, I don’t know if it will work:( Perhaps if it’s in a routine?
Yes! A routine is a great idea, Diana. So glad you got one last night!!! xx Andrea
My one year old will scream and cry when I try to potty her at night. So for the sake of the rest of the family, I usually don’t potty her at night. However my 4 year old asks every night before I say “goodnight” to him if I will potty him in the night. I tell him I will. It reassures him and he’s been dry for three nights in a row! It’s so rewarding to see his delight at being dry all night! :)
Just got your TinyUps and immediately started using them at night with my potty trained 3.5 yr old. She wet them the first night (not surprised, wanted her to feel wet) but the bed was barely wet. The second night I reminded her that she should try to not pee in bed and she woke up dry (I think she went to the toilet during the night, but it’s hazy). Tonight I sent her to bed in underwear and TinyUps and we will see how it goes! So excited to be able to stop buying disposable night time pull ups, without stressing my daughter with a wet bed. My 2 yr old has recently gone daytime diaper free (fully communicates when she needs to go and can take herself but likes help ?) and I am looking forward to trying her in TinyUps at night. She has never had a dry night, but I think she might with a dream pee and no disposables! Thank you for a great product, Andrea!
We are struggling a bit with my almost 2yo. She will turn 2 in 2 wks and is having lots of accidents, particularly at night, all of a sudden. She used to wake dry each nap and at least 50% of the night time and would have been more often but we didn’t always hear her wake in the morning. (she also only wants to use the big potty, though would occasionally use the small one in her room on her own after naps)
I’m hoping that this regression is just a developmental thing since there aren’t any other changes in the house/family. She has also started to pee when startled by loud noises, which she never did before.
I appreciate any ideas! I was excited about Night Potty and can’t wait to receive my order since she loves Tiny Potty!
THANKS FOR THIS POST!!!!!
We just started nighttime pottying our son and this advice has helped SOOOO much! We are in the same situation you mentioned. We only have accidents nights we forget to dream potty him. (mommas bad!)
We will have to look into getting the trainers and book you mentioned! Thanks again!
Hi, thank you for this post! I am brand new to EC and have just started with my first, a 4 month old. I use cloth diapers during the day and either disposables or cloth with a wool cover at night depending on how tired I am. My current issue is that my baby will not pee when offered after meals, upon waking or before a diaper change, but will then pee once her new cloth diaper is on or when I am drying her off after rinsing her in the sink (we try not to use wipes). Then, if I change that diaper, she will pee a little bit again in the new diaper after refusing the toilet. She is a frequent, small volume pee-er! I’m finding this very frustrating and discouraging. Also, she will easily sleep all night in a soaked cloth diaper. Poop, not so much, but she does not seem to mind being wet with pee! Any tips you can share are appreciated!
Ours is 14mo and we started EC at 12mo (sorry! We had never heard of it before). She has been kicking butt with the EC and actually walks me to the potty when she has to go. We are somewhere between EC & Potty Training I think. My question is how can we do better with sleep-pees? 9 out of 10 naps she wakes up dry, but that 1 nap she pees is a FLOOD. She also completely saturates her night diapers and is soaking wet by the morning. We are vigilant about drinks close to nap & bed, but this camel we are raising seems to be able to keep the full day’s worth in her bladder (I wish I could)! We tried dream pees but she stayed up for the next 5 hours each time we tried. I am kinda freaking out about more dream pee trials. Do you have hints for emptying the bladder? Or anything really. We are STUCK!
Btw thank you for this post, its how we even attempted dream pees in the 1st place.
For naps, just offer the potty before and after. That’s all you can really do. I am so glad you tried dream pees! If it isn’t working now, don’t worry. Just try again in a few weeks or so. Babies change so quickly. When you do try again, keep the stimulus to a minimum. You don’t have to wake her fully, keep lights dim, etc. Setting up a potty right near where she sleeps will help reduce stimulus as well. xx Andrea
Hi, so my little one tends to hold guys pee all night and refuses to go to the potty or bathroom. The downside is that he wakes up several times but just won’t pee although we keep offering him. Finally at about 5 am he says he wants to pee and then sleeps after that without any disturbance up till 8 am. We are struggling with his multiple wakings and refusal to pee. I sometimes wonder that maybe I should have delayed the potty training :(
Have you tried doing a dream pee right next to his sleeping space? No lights, no talking, just sit him on the potty. If he’s older (you don’t want to do this with infants) you can limit fluids before bed a little to help him produce less pee at night. Waiting on potty training wouldn’t have made a difference with this, so it’s great that you got it done! xx Andrea
My situation is that baby #2 is coming in less than 4 weeks and my son who will turn 3 a few weeks after that is starting the process of night training. I feel I’m doing most everything in this post….except limiting liquids. Tom never really attached to a lovey, but he did attach to sleeping with his water bottle and I feel awful taking that away on top of reducing drinks before bed. We started night training when he was consistently waking in dry diapers, but now he’s ‘waking to pee’ 2 times per night on top of the dream pee. :( I guess I should have skipped the line in the night potty book about waking us to pea and gone straight to you do it yourself!! Thoughts??!!
First off, congratulations on your pregnancy! How exciting baby will be here soon. So for nights, I would start having him do the potty process on his own with your supervision. Remind him that he can just go on his own. He may still need you for a while though, it really depends on the kid. While it may seem like having a newborn will make nights crazy, honestly you’re up anyway. Many people begin night training when they have a new baby because of this. xx Andrea
We have started the dream pee with our 2 year old (27 months). He has been out of daytime diapers since 18 months, and will occasionally be dry all night when he gets a cold and is a little dehydrated. We are limiting fluids before bed, reading the nighttime potty book, and talking to him about waking and calling out to us… My question is, how do you deal with night time stiffness? His penis is a little stiff when he sleeps and even with our best efforts to position him on the potty a lot of pee is getting on the floor. Any suggestions?
Hi Heather! I would try to get him to lean forward a bit. You can always lay a washcloth across his lap as well. xx Andrea
My 2.6 years old son doesn’t pee in his diapers at night anymore since we potty trained him 5 months ago. So we stopped wearing diapers at night. We use rubber sheet to protect the bed instead. I have to take him to pee every 2-3 hrs or he wets the bed. Sometimes he wets the bed twice in 1 night. I went back to wearing diapers for him, and still no pee at night. He sleeps all throught. Is that safe for his bladder. What do i do about this?
Hi! If he’s able to sleep all night and stay dry that is perfectly fine, great really! It just means he is sleeping really well. I would try to ditch the diapers though, it will be more difficult down the road. You can switch to training pants with a cover. That way he feels wet if there’s a miss but the bed isn’t getting soaked. xx Andrea
Son turned 3 in June and has been out of daytime diapers since 19 months (with lots of help), but first night training attempt at 26 months was utterly exhausting and not possible at that stage in our life (mama struggling with depression/anxiety, preparing for international move, deeeeeep sleeping son who couldn’t care less about sleeping soaked from head to toe in pee). Just started again a few weeks ago. At first seemed to be going well, but now most nights I’m changing the sheets. What does “limiting liquids” mean practically- literally no liquids after X time? Reading some of the old comments, I think I’m doing the dream team too early because it has been within 2-3 hours of when he goes to bed – you would recommend doing it more 4-5 hours after that? I am not going to stop this time, we have to make this step, but I feel myself heading towards “it will always be like this” and “how can I ask grandparents to get up in the middle of the night to change sheets?” type thinking. So any advice would be appreciated!
You are doing great! Remember it’s not a linear journey and there are bound to be ups and downs. Limiting liquids typically means no more drinks after x time or no more drinks x amount hours before bed. As for the dream pees, it really is dependent on your little ones sleep patterns. I would try the 4-5 hour window and see if you have better success with that. Always remember you are doing great and this is one short phase in our children’s lives, it won’t last forever!
Our most successful EC happens at night! My little one is turning 1 next week. She switches between a floor bed next to ours, our bed, and her crib depending on the day, and she is still nursing at night. For the last few months she’s kept her undies dry every night. If she wakes up and cries, I take her to the bathroom right away, she almost always pees, and then we’re back to bed. This was happening at least twice per night but now she’s good with one pee if timed right :). I trust her and I so much to keep a dry bed and undies… we don’t even have a protective cover on anything!
Wow!!! That’s amazing, no protective cover! You are rocking night time EC!!!
First off, I love all of your resources and products! I potty trained my toddler at 19 months old and am now doing part-time EC with my baby, who is almost 6 months old.
My toddler is now almost 2 1/2 years old and is wetting the bed almost every single night. During my last month of pregnancy with my 2nd, I put my toddler in pull-ups because I was too tired to deal with the wet bed (60% of the time) and wanted to get some sleep before the newborn stage was upon me. He was then in pull-ups for 3 months and usually wet them (80%), though I did try to squeeze in dream pees when I felt capable and encourage night-time dryness (even reading the Nighttime Potty book). So for the last 2 months, my husband and I have been taking our toddler for 2 dream pees every night, sometime around 9:30/10pm and again around 1-2am, but he still manages to wet the bed at some point, either before we get to him or sometime after (98% of the time). We limit liquids before bed, so Idk where this is all coming from! (I’m not consistent with the timing of the 2nd dream pee because I base it on my baby’s wake-up and he’s a poor sleeper, so I’m not up for setting an alarm to incur yet another wake-up… Unless I should set an alarm and try for a dream feed for baby and a dream pee for toddler??) He sleeps bare booty because I figured that pulling down his bottoms is something he’s still not super confident at during the day and I wanted to make it easy for him to jump onto his potty by his bed. It seems like he’s a deep sleeper or is just too lazy when stirring to get up? He’s been better at not pre-peeing his pants during the day since switching out of pull-ups, so I’m hesitant to go back, but I also am wondering if I should keep going with the constant wet bed (is this training him that that’s okay?) or switch back to wetting bottoms until he grows into night dryness… but I don’t know if I’m up for an indefinite amount of time of wet bed. I thought I’d see progress by now. Thoughts?
Hi Rachel! That sounds tough, this season of teaching night time dryness can be really challenging for many of us. For more personal help, I launched Potty Tribe this year where several of my coaches and I get together with folks over zoom on the weekly to go over these hard times and offer more one on one help. For now perhaps trying a reset with some naked time to really let that mind body connection take place could help really cement it in for daytime. As for nighttime, tag teaming it with your partner can be a huge help, you nurse baby while they take care of older brother’s potty needs. As far as progress, I know it’s hard but remember EC is nonlinear and there can be regressions when big life changes happen, whether that change is a developmental milestone or a change in family life like the birth of a new baby. I totally understand how frustrating it can be when we have offered a dream pee and still wake up to a wet bed. Many have had success with the dream pee happening a bit later around 3-4am. That may be closer to his natural timing. Always remember you got this and there is a community here to help you along the way. Be patient with baby but also with yourself and give yourself grace, that’s super important. You got this!