Are you hesitant to try nighttime elimination communication? These tips can help you ease into pottying your baby at night. You may even find that practicing EC is easier at night than during the day! There are far fewer distractions competing for your little one's attention during the dark of night than during the wakeful daytime hours.
One key piece of information that made nighttime and nap time elimination communication easier for me was knowing that babies tend not to pee while in a deep sleep. If you respond to your baby as soon as he starts to toss and turn, wiggle, whimper, or otherwise rouse from sleep, chances are that he will still be dry.
Here are some tips for squeezing elimination communication into a nighttime routine without taking too much time away from precious sleep.
Potty & Changing Station Near the Bed
When practicing elimination communication at night it is even more important to make it as easy upon yourself as possible. One way to make pottytunities quick and convenient is to set up a potty and diaper changing station beside your baby's bed. This could be as simple as a chamber pot next to the bed, or it could be a more elaborate set up with diaper changing supplies.
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Nighttime EC Supplies
- Designate a potty area on the floor or a changing table near where your baby sleeps. If you co-sleep, the potty area can be next to your bed.
- Cover the area with either a wool blanket or a cotton towel.
- Include a small potty to use at night. If it is cold where you live, top the potty with a potty cozy.
- Include a diaper changing pad.
- Stock your nighttime EC station with clean diaper covers and inserts (if you use cloth diapers as backup at night), cloth wipes and an insulated stainless steel container of warm water, a diaper pail, and a small towel for clean up.
- Include an amber nightlight or a red colored headlamp, to help you see what you are doing during pottytunities and diaper changes.
Maintain Circadian Rhythms
The key to successful nighttime elimination communication is to disturb you and your baby's sleep cycles as little as possible. Try to keep the room as dim and quiet as possible. By responding quickly and quietly, your baby may stay partially asleep throughout feeding, pottying, and returning to bed.
Dim Orange Lighting
Rather than turning on a bright light, see if you can manage with just an amber colored salt lamp nightlight or red colored headlamp. Blue lights disturb the natural sleep cycle, while using a warm colored light can help keep you sleepy.
If you are using cloth diapers as back-up, select a type that can be removed and replaced quietly. I like to use gDiapers with cloth pre-folds. The Velcro tabs are easy to open and secure.
To quietly offer the potty, remove any clothing that is in the way, place your baby over the potty, and quietly make the cue sound. Your baby may respond to the cue without opening his eyes or appearing to wake.
Stay in Tune with Your Baby
To make it easier to stay in tune with your baby at night, try going to bed at the same time as your baby. I know as busy parents we do not always have this luxury, but on nights when you can, give it a try, and it may make nighttime parenting a little easier.
Sleeping in the same room as your baby will also help you stay in sync with your baby's elimination needs. Bed-sharing is not necessary, but being in close proximity to your baby's bassinet or mattress will make it easier to notice when your baby begins to wake at night. Unless you have a toddler who can call out to you or come to your room for assistance, it would be very difficult to respond quickly enough while sleeping in separate rooms.
Feeding Wins Over Pottying
One of the most helpful tips I learned for nighttime EC from Go Diaper Free: A Simple Handbook for Elimination Communication by Andrea Olson was to remember that feeding trumps pottying. Make feeding your baby your top concern, with pottying secondary.
When my son was only a couple months old, this meant getting him latched-on first, and then sliding a potty under him and removing his diaper. If I tried to get him situated over the potty first, he would protest and cry.
If you are breastfeeding your baby, you can hold your baby in a cradle position over a top hat potty or the insert from a BabyBjorn Smart Potty while nursing. Another option is to offer one side, then a pottytunity, then offer the other side.
Dress Baby for Nighttime EC
Dress your baby for nighttime EC by choosing clothing that can easily be moved out of the way for pottytunities.
Another great option are baby sleep gowns, which can be worn by either girls or boys. Sleep gowns have elastic at the bottom to keep them in place, but can be easily pulled up for pottytunities. Sleep gowns are much more convenient than pajamas that have rows of tiny buttons.
For wintertime EC in cold weather, you can add a merino wool sleep sack over the sleep gown or tee shirt. Make sure to look for a sleep sack that opens along the bottom, so that you can offer pottytunities and change diapers without removing the entire sleep sack.
Offer Pottytunities Before Bed & First Thing in the Morning
It is less likely that your baby will have a miss during the night if you offer a pottytunity right before your baby goes to sleep and as soon as your baby starts to rouse in the morning.
With toddlers, who may only wake once or twice at night, it can help to offer a pottytunity before they go to bed and again right before you go to bed. Also, respond quickly in the morning, to catch the big morning pee.
That wraps up my tips for nighttime elimination communication. If you would like a deeper dive into whether and how to practice nighttime EC, you may want to take Andrea Olson's online class Nighttime EC 101 MiniCourse.
Next up is a list of 10 Useful Items for Elimination Communication.
Are you ready to try nighttime elimination communication? If not, what is holding you back?