When Gumby started using the potty, it was 100% full time, just like a switch had been flipped; she was a potty machine. She had already been having lots of naked time and hating diapers, so we just dove into getting her underwear. But, we did wonder: what should we do at night?
I couldn't seem to find a lot of information out there for night time potty learning. I had noticed her overnight diapers were getting less and less wet; sometimes they would be dry.
The first day that she used the potty consistently, at bed time, we asked her if she wanted a diaper. She said no. We co-sleep and we have a mattress pad. So, I explained to her what I thought would happen. I told her if she had to potty, we'd wake up, sit on the potty, potty and then go back to bed. I told her if I noticed her pottying in her sleep, we'd wake up, sit on the potty, potty and then go back to bed. It seemed so simple. What surprised me was that her and I both could sleep right through those little accidents until it was too late.
For the first time, the other night, she had a full bladder and was uncomfortable, stirring and thrashing. I kept asking her if she needed to sit on the potty and finally, she said "yes"! We still have accidents, but we deal with them.
Here are a few things that we have found helpful on our nighttime potty learning adventure:
Patience and Trust
We will get there when we get there. :) We cannot control when Gumby uses the potty; we can only try to help her learn to recognize the feelings of needing to go and what to do. We need to trust that she will go when she needs to go.
Mattress pads and those little 'multi-use' waterproof baby pads
We keep the entire mattress under a fitted waterproof mattress pad. We also have a flat pad that is the size of the toddler bed that we keep on top of that, right where Gumby is most likely to lay. Sometimes, if we have an accident, the toddler bed sized pad catches it all and we don't have to change the full fitted mattress pad. The little "multi-use" water proof pads come in handy should an accident occur in the middle of the night. I, personally, have no desire to wake up the family and re-make the bed at some odd hour of the night. If a wet spot is found, it can be covered with the small pad so that we can sleep on a dry surface and deal with the mess in the morning.
Recognition that Nighttime Potty Learning is a Natural Milestone
As I mentioned, when we started this journey, I thought I could help Gumby learn to recognize needing to potty while sleeping and wake up. Ah, I still chuckle. And, I am still amazed that she can pee when she is literally sound asleep. Even if I did notice *and* could bring myself to wake my sleeping baby, she'd probably be done by then anyway. I have read forum posts of folks with kids her age that stay dry all night and some whose five year old kiddos are not dry at night. All kids are different and this is like walking; they will do it when they are ready to do it.
No Need to Night Wean
This ties in with the previous item. Gumby still nurse at night, quite a bit. Most nights she is dry regardless. Again, I have read forum posts of folks who have tried night weaning and the little ones still weren't dry all night. So, for us, why ruin a good thing? :)
Limit certain fluids 2-3 Hours Before Bed
The other night I wanted some hot tea. Gumby loves hot tea and she shared some also. But it was late, and then she went to bed. The rest of the tale won't surprise you, but we did learn that certain drinks such as hot tea and slushies probably should be cut off 2-3 hours before beddy time. We don't limit nursing, milk or water.
Nighttime Potty for Everyone
In one of my less than proud and gentle moments, I learned that it is true - you can sit them on the potty, by hook or by crook, but you cannot make them go. Even though it is so hard not to impose our will, try to force her to go because we think she has to, not to get upset if she doesn't go when we think she has to, we had to let go of trying to push the night time potty issue and just accept what would be. Sometimes, she pottys right before bed at 10pm and still has an accident. Some nights, her last potty was at 4pm and she refused to go and she'd be dry still! We decided to change what we could control (us) and not worry about what we cannot control (Gumby). So, the rest of the family has nighttime potty. We don't make a real big deal, but we each announce that we are having our nighttime potty. And, we put the dogs out for their nighttime potty too. Almost every time, it turns out Gumby also needs a nighttime potty.
So, some weeks I don't have to wash the bedding at all, other than the usual maintenance washing. Some weeks, I have to wash the bedding every other day. We could use diapers or pull ups and keep the bedding dry and clean. But, in our journey, we honestly feel that would hurt Gumby's sense of pride and accomplishment and that is far more important to us than the bedding.
What information, tips or things have you found useful in your nighttime potty learning adventures?