Here you can find out how to do ec / blpt / baby-led pottying at night. I’m a big fan! I learned on the job with my four babies and I’ve hit every scenario out there. From cots and baby sleeping bags to co-sleeping with a naked baby in my armpit. What I discovered was it got a whole lot easier with the right approach and the right equipment.
Keeping up with Baby-led pottying / ec / blpt at night is entirely possible, totally worth it and not as hard as you might think. Read on for some ideas to get you started.
Why would you want to offer the potty at night? Isn’t life hard enough?
This depends entirely on your perspective, but the immediate benefits are more tangible than you might think.
Many people have a bash at night time pottying because they think it’s a logical next step once they’ve cracked day times. Others find ec has changed their view on nappies entirely and now they don’t like the idea of their child wearing their own wee at any time of day.
A principled approach is a fine way to start.
Still more people start night time ec because they realise their child is already responding to a full bladder in their sleep.
If they wake at a regular time – is that really for a feed, or is it for a wee?
If they sleep like a log for 3 hours, then completely shift position, is that so they wee?
If they get all restless and toss and turn and don’t sleep soundly at all after 4am… sometimes you can ‘fix’ that completely with an earlier pre-emptive wee.
If they wake at 5:30am and are up for the day? A night time potty offer can buy you another hour and a half of sound sleep in the morning!
What does a night time potty offer look like?
Well, it looks something like this. These are pre-emptive evening catches, but the ‘keep it swift, keep it quiet, keep it dark’ principles apply just the same.
Look out for an early version of Flaparaps in action, too!
Before you get started with night time ec!
Once you’ve decided that using a potty during the day is fabulous and sensible and natural and ‘most of the world’s babies don’t ever wear nappies’, you’ll find yourself thinking about night time pottying. Those naturally nappy free cultures seem to manage it, so it must be possible… but is it practical for you personally to offer a potty at night? Is it worth it? Does anyone get any sleep?
Well, I think it’s worth it and I encourage you to give it a bash while you’re feeling keen!
But bear in mind that:
- If you are even remotely worried about dealing with a wet bed, it will keep you up.
- Though you’ll read that bare-bum is definitely best, it generates far more washing than using some sort of waterproof backup. <cough>flaparaps</cough> ;).
- Enough sleep makes your world a far better place. You have more energy, more ideas and far far more patience. Using decent absorbent nappies at night to give everyone more sleep can be the very best decision – don’t think of it as a cop out!
- It’s perfectly possible to do part-time pottying at night, and it’s far easier than attempting to catch everything if you have a frequent wetter.
By the way, I’ve been wee’d on a number of times at night and I didn’t even notice until I woke up. A bit of body temperature liquid in a warm bed is barely detectable.
So being wet at night… it’s not that bad. If you’re getting yourself into a sleep deprived mess to save your baby from a wet nappy, allow yourself to take it down a notch. And if you’d love to go for all out naked nights but your baby sleeps on your chest, know that a miss isn’t a big deal.
Night Feeding, Night Pottying: The Vicious Circle
There’s another way you’ll arrive at night time pottying as a strategy, and that’s when you hit upon The Vicious Circle theory.
You’ll think to yourself: What if my baby is waking because they have a full bladder, and then I feed them back to sleep, or feed them so that they can relax and wee, and that gives them a full bladder, and they wake up again…
How do I break the cycle??
One way is to offer the potty at night. If you time it well, you can often skip the feed because the potty offer prevents the natural waking and breaks the cycle.
(If that doesn’t work, try an evening pre-emptive and see how you get on. It’s fairly easy to take an active approach in the evening, while you’re still up! If You’re awake anyway, you might as well give it a go.)
Raring To Go? Here’s The Quick Start Guide To Pottying / ec At Night
Night time pottying isn’t as hard as you might think. Watch (or listen on your monitor) for huffling or wriggling as your child sleeps, then swoop in with the swiftest, quietest, warmest, darkest potty offer of your pottying career and see how you do. You have 60 seconds from ‘first touch’ to ‘back in bed’ for the best chance of immediate sleep afterwards. Give it a go!
If you co-sleep, night feed, or feed to sleep, what are you waiting for? Definitely give it a go now while you have a failsafe way of putting your baby back to sleep again.
The Longer Version: With the Hows and Whys and Wherefores
Setting Up to ec / potty at night
Let’s tackle this bit by bit. There are a quite a few considerations – pick and choose any that fit your sleeping arrangements.
- The Room: You’ll need minimal light, easy access to your sleeping child, and a way to do the lift-offer-back-to-bed with minimal disturbance.
- The Bed: If there is any chance of a wet bed, make sure it’s waterproofed. I use Hippychick mattress protectors on all my beds. A fitted protector under the fitted sheet, then a flat protector over the top for easy changes. Buy them now – you’ll be using them for years. (They also protect against milk leaks and water’s breaking during your next pregnancy, and the nocturnal vomiting of the preschool and infant school years… Absurdly handy.)
- The Child: Give yourself easy access to an offer. You need to be able to reach them, access their bottom, offer a potty, and get them back in bed while they’re still super drowsy. 60 seconds, remember! Poppers are not the best strategy.
- The Offerer: You’ll need warm hands, quick and quiet reactions, and patience… You’re learning on the job, so give yourself a few chances to master the technique. But don’t beat yourself up if it never works for you – move on.
- The Clean Up: Don’t bother. No wipes, no water, just a dab of dry loo roll if you need it. A fresh dry nappy trumps a wet one any day – and you don’t bother wiping after every wee when they’re lying in it for a full 8 hours.
- The Changing Table: is now the bed 😉
How Often do you offer the potty at night?
It’s entirely up to you. If you want to catch everything, here’s a general guide:
- Newborn – 5 or 6 months: probably before or after every night feed, when they wiggle in their sleep between feeds, and you still might miss some no-warning wees. So… every hour and half, maybe? Every 3 hours? Co-sleeping makes this easier, but unless it literally takes a minute out of your night for each offer you might end up with no functioning brain in the morning. Make sensible choices.
- Older baby: by 6 months some babies are feeding through the night with a bare bum and not needing to wee at all. Not my children! They still wee’d loads at this stage. We caught most of it with the evening pre-empt and feeding rhythms, and replaced the Flaparap pad when we missed.
- Toddler: by 14 months or so mine were usually dry in the morning after one evening pre-empt. Then it’s easy ever after! Evening offer, dry morning, done. You might be helping out with the evening wee for the next 2 years, but it takes less than a minute, it’s less wasteful than years of night time nappies and if you time it to coincide with when your child is stirring to wee anyway, it helps train them to recognise a full bladder. My toddlers reliably woke in the evening, and called for me so I could help them, long before they were two years old.
So you can see that night frequencies taper pretty sharply once you hit toddlerhood. The 5-14 month period is the tricky bit if you’re feeding during the night.
How do you actually make the offer?
Undress your tot in their bed while they’re still asleep. Be quick and quiet and keep them warm. Then offer with as little fuss as possible (potty by the bed, dark corridors if you’re heading to the dark toilet), and get them parceled up and tucked back in before they fully rouse themselves.
Do whatever will feel most familiar to your child. You want their conditioning to kick in so they wee on autopilot.
And cue! Build up association with your cue sound during the day, because at night it works like magic!
Dark dark dark, but light enough to get the job done
The first problem of deep dark night time pottying is having enough light to see by, but not enough for any part of the room to be lit up. If you’re using a potty in the bed (recommended for co-sleeping newborns and tiddlers) you need to be able to see something in the depths of winter or you’re going to end up doing a lot of washing.
The cheap option is a torch under a dark coloured handkerchief. The expensive (and frankly fantastic) option is to get an decent sized glow in the dark wall clock.
Mine has a faint green glow that provides enough light to see the potty in an otherwise pitch black room (and it’s radio controlled so the time is always accurate to boot). It was an inspired purchase and I’ve appreciated it every night for the last 6 years. I even bought a second one to travel with despite it being entirely unsuitable for such a purpose.
Simply put: I love this clock.
(Technically, it’s an Acctim Stratus Radio Controlled LCD Wall Clock but when you put that in a sentence it really ruins the flow…)
To keep track of everything in the dark while I’m half asleep, I use a Bedtime Box. It contains everything I need for nights and I couldn’t cope without it.
It usually contains some combination of: top hat potty, nappies/flaparaps, mop up muslins/flaparap pads, waterproof sheets of varying sizes (changing mat size to go under a potty on the bed, single size to go under our sleeping selves) and a bottle of drinking water to help me get through the night feeds.
When we go away, I just put the whole thing in the car – but add a potty washing squirter bottle, a torch and my spare fancy clock for good measure.
Night Nappies, Bare Bum, Or Something In Between?
To start with, use whichever nappies you use already. You might decide nighttime shenanigans aren’t for you, in which case you’ve lost nothing.
BUT if you want to treat nights like days, you can’t do better than invest in some Flaparaps.
I know, I know, I’m bound to say that – but I invented them for a reason, and night pottying was high on the list. Silent to take on and off, easy to change a wet pad without waking the baby, drop-flap for easy offers when everyone is half asleep… I solved every problem I could think of to make nights as easy as days. Take advantage! They’re well worth it. (The 100% wool version is particularly sumptuous. If you’ve never used wool at night you’re in for a treat! It’s incredible! So breathable you wonder how it can possibly be waterproof, but it is. Wish I’d experienced the magic of wool wraps 7 years earlier.)
Start From Where You Are Now
It’s appealing to construct ‘ideal world’ scenarios in your head, but the easiest way to start pottying at night is to work out how can you tweak your current set-up to give yourself a decent chance at success. Here are some ideas:
A poppered vest will be fine – you’ll manage a couple of poppers no trouble at all.
As for blankets and sleeping bags, use whatever you use now and find a way to get easy access while keeping your child warm and sleepy. Be creative – I’ve tried all sorts!
My eldest used a sleeping bag. I could open the bag and open her disposable without waking her up. Then I’d take her to the toilet in the dark and have her back in her nappy and zipped into her sleeping bag before she knew what was going on.
Number Two wore a disposable at night but co-slept under a blanket or duvet. I assumed I’d be facing the same ‘floods all night nappies’ onslaught I’d experienced with her sister so I stuck with disposables at night – but ec / pottying changes everything.
A catch before bed and another in the evening and any style of nappy would have made it through till morning. Oh well. Live and learn and apply the lessons to…
If you’re contemplating night-time pottying with a young baby (newborn to 3 months-ish), practice sleepy offers during daytime naps.
My lot signalled very clearly in their sleep. They liked to lie on their fronts and would pull in their knees and stick their bums up in the air when they needed to wee – so it was really easy to offer while they slept.
They were so tiny I could pick them up in that frog position, rotate them so that they were upright, hold them over the potty, cue and then put them down again, all without having to move their limbs at all. Incredibly cute!
When they got older, they would ‘huffle puffle’ when it was time to do a wee. We’d see them, or hear them on the monitor if it was evening time, nip over and pop them on the potty. Job done. Bottom dry. Comfy inside and out for another stretch of sleep.
Waterproofing: The Secret to Successful, Full On, Hard Core, Night Time Pottying / ec / blpt
I tried full time night time pottying with both my first and second babies.
I left them bare bottomed, I used every waterproofing idea I could think of while I madly tried to keep up with the wees and the washing.
But in the end I gave up and reverted to a part time ‘evening pre-empt then offer with feeds’ policy.
With my third and fourth babies, I successfully pottied them full time at night. The only difference: Flaparaps.
Yes, Flaparaps made full on night time pottying possible for me, which made me realise it wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, but that I wasn’t set up well enough to make it happen.
Quite a big realisation, really – to discover just how much difference the type of nappy made to everything: to my perception of the difficulty, to my conclusions about why I wasn’t successful, to my attitude to night time offers. A real eye opener!
You might have read that bare bottomed nights make things a lot easier. In my experience, they make offers quicker and more convenient but the second miss of the night is no fun at all. (You’re geared up for the first one, but after the second you start to get twitchy.) Flaparaps are only a fraction of a second behind and the contained misses make them a solid winner for me. Peace of mind means a few hours of solid sleep yourself (if your baby says that’s ok 😉 )
But others found success long before Flaparaps were invented, so there are other options – and they’ve come a long way in the last few years.
You can now get custom made wool sleeping bags with easy access to your child’s bottom – designed and developed by people actively pottying / ec-ing their babies. Beautiful wool puddle pads and mattress protectors. Split pants and sock-footed trousers. Visit the Little Bunny Bear shop on etsy for anything you can think of! (I mean that. If you can describe what you want, you can get it made up at Bunny Bear. Now you’re excited, aren’t you?)
In the end, you’ll need to waterproof the bed rather than the child.
Either your toddler will let you know the game is up, as my kids did (I remember my second daughter refusing to wear a nappy at night before she was two years old. She screamed if I put one on at bedtime and took it off if I snuck it on when she was asleep. ‘Nappy Off!’ she would say, smacking it against my head at two in the morning), or you’ll take that step yourself to ‘finish up’ your proper potty training.
In our situation (co-sleeping, just myself and the nipper in a king sized bed) puddle pads and cot sized plastic sheets were of no use to me. My kids were active sleepers – dead to the world be all over the bed – so anything small would inevitably get missed.
Instead, I used the luscious Hippychick cotton covered fitted king size waterproof sheet under our usual sheet as ’emergency protection’.
Then I used a Hippychick single sized (90cm x 200cm) flat waterproof sheet laid sideways across the top of the bed. We slept directly on that sheet. It was big enough to not to get too screwed up, but small enough not to be a disaster if I had to wash it.
And it’s absorbent and waterproof on both sides so I could flip it if I needed to, or slide it over a bit to push a wet patch off the edge of the bed, or fold it in half to contain the wet patch while keeping us and the bed dry. Plus, you can tumble dry it without the pul layer melting and sticking to itself (as it does with the fitted sheets – you’ve been warned.)
For real peace of mind, buy a spare flat sheet so you can swap one out in the night and hang it over the door to be dry by morning.
If you want to prioritise both sleep and night time pottying, the trick is to be prepared!
Give It A Go
Being properly set up can make the difference between long term success and madcap sleep deprivation, but for the first night, or the first week, you’ll learn more from having a go than from researching all the websites in cyberspace.
Go forth. Potty your baby! (In the dark…)
Questions, queries, related experiences? That’s why there’s a comments section! Go mad