I'm a huge fan of the evening pre-emptive wee.
To me, it's a brilliant strategy.
I distrust the wisdom of waiting for children to stay dry at night by them simply not needing to wee between 7pm and 7am. How can you rely on a system like that? I prefer to know that my children will wake up when they want to wee.
I've seen this frowned upon in general. I've read negative responses on the subject of 'lifting' from both infant pottying and traditional camps. But to me it's a simple extension of day-time timing based pottying. One or two timing based wees in the evening. Not a big a deal.
Now, not everyone gets on with the pre-emptive. It helps if you can keep your child virtually asleep - but part of that is that it becomes something familiar and not worth waking up for or making a fuss about. The child knows what is about to happen, it takes a few seconds, they go back to sleep immediately.
If your child is going to scream the house down the moment you approach their sleeping form, this isn't going to work instantly for you! It might work over time, as everyone becomes familiar with it, but it might not.
Bear in mind that this has worked very well for us with the girls sleeping on mattresses on the floor, or proper beds, so I've always had easy access to them for an immediate cuddle on the way to the potty. Cot sides might prove a complication, but if you use a cot I'm sure you're good at getting your sleeping child in and out of it.
You have three options for future attempts:
1) Offer earlier and hope they don't notice. Timing is really important, but if you wait until your child has woken themselves and they're not expecting a potty offer, they can get all uppity about it. Offer 10 or 15 minutes before they usually wake in the evening and you might find they don't wake at all... (This is my favourite technique actually. It's surprising how often it works.)
2) Stop sneaking around. If your child is a bit older - maybe 20+ months? - and you're not having any luck with the subtle approach, it might help to wake them up 'properly' (you want them groggy, but conscious). Make sure they know that they're up and they're going to sit on the potty. This is a good one to try if you can get your sleeping child to the loo but they only do a tiny wee, or none at all, and then do a full wee a little while later. Waking them means they'll do a full wee and sleep better for the rest of the night. (You could also try a verbal cue if you're not using one already.)
3) Try again in a month or so. We're talking about babies and toddlers and night wees. If you're not that keen, or you don't want to deal with three days of protest to see if you come out the other side - there's nothing wrong with that. Pick and choose which bits of pottying are going to work for you and stick with them. Everybody needs sleep.
If you have a particular hold that gives you good results during the day - use that.
If you want to transfer to the bathroom, make the trip in the dark and try to keep your child asleep on the way. Do all the undressing / nappy off stuff in the warm bed, then cuddle them to the loo, take action, cuddle them back to the warm bed and put the nappy back on. (Again, this was easy for me on mattresses - you'll probably want to modify it if you don't have easy access to a deep cot.)
Cheat. It's worth it. I used to dip my eldest daughter's feet in warm water in the sink (put a couple of inches of warm water in the sink first, then fetch the baby). I could perform the whole operation without her coming away from a standard front cuddle position (the others were pre-empted from birth so we didn't need shenanigans with them!). Lots of people offer while breast feeding. Or, if you have a tiny baby you can use a dummy or your knuckle for a few seconds of suck to have the same effect.
It's also possible to sit your toddler on the loo while keeping a fairly tight embrace.
It seems to me, that lifting at the right time does help a child to wake independently when they want to do a wee.
My first daughter, who was treated to an evening pre-emptive from around 15 months, started to wake of her own accord when she wanted to do a wee just after she turned two.
The other three all woke and called from around 20 months.
If they always needed to wee at night, I continued to pre-empt until they were about four.
Not because they didn't wake independently to do a wee - they did, and had done for years - but because that wee might be at a very inconvenient time for me.
Like, say, 4am.
And if they need assistance of some sort (because they're confused or half asleep or scared) then I'll have to get up and chances are I won't get back to sleep again, and all for what?
I can cut out all of that by getting my husband to sit the youngest on the potty before he goes to bed. If she wants to wee before then, she'll wake up and we're still up to help her out.
It makes perfect sense to me.
Number 4 stopped needing to wee at night much earlier than the others. When she could stay dry the whole night she stopped weeing during the pre-empt. Easy life! (But if we have a run of early mornings I will lift her for a few days because if I get a wee she'll sleep longer in the morning.)
Ah! For that, you'll need my quick-start guide to night time pottying.
Why Is My Baby Waking At Night?
Perhaps they're responding to a full bladder...
Invest in the pre-emptive evening wee to find out.
If you're going to use the potty on the bed, place it on a small waterproof mat 'just in case'.
Create your own personal cheat sheet.
I'll guide you through your options as if you were at one of my workshops.
My friend Becky sells hand-made upcycled woollen puddle pads, split pants and other nifty ec gear in the Little Bunny Bear Etsy Shop.
She has a degree in fashion design so everything she makes is beautiful! Pop over and have a look. Find something nice to go with your Flaparaps ;)