Nighttime elimination communication can seem overwhelming – but it doesn't have to be! There are many options for night/nap EC, and you may find that reading your baby's cues is even easier at night than in the day!
Perhaps the simplest choice for the night is to diaper your baby, and it's one that many parents make. But even diapered babies will leak at night. Some people also believe that nighttime diapering leads to later bed wetting (though I don't know of any studies confirming or denying this).
You may want to have your baby in a diaper and offer to help them eliminate whenever they awaken. If they wake wet, you can offer the potty and quickly change them. You may find that a diaper without a cover works if your baby wakes frequently at night.
One option – pocket diapers – wick moisture away from your baby's skin so that baby always feels dry. If you're using diapers at night this could be an advantage because your baby won't get used to the wet feeling against her skin.
Many babies won't wet in their sleep. They always begin to stir when they need to eliminate. Some parents have even found that once they potty their baby, he goes back to sleep without a fuss or even nursing – he just needed to GO!
Potty in the Dark
Decide how you're going to potty your baby at night. Some babies won't mind you carrying them to the bathroom. Then help them potty over the toilet, their own little potty, or in the sink. Some parents find that the bathtub works well for nighttime – no worrying about aim in the dark!
Some babies (and parents) don't want to have to go all the way to the bathroom at night. If this is the case for your family, a wide bowl on the floor works well (we like a dishpan). Simply sit up and swing your legs over the side of the bed. Then hold your baby over the bowl and let him go.
You can also have a bowl available on the bedside table. Sit up and cradle your baby close to you as you let her go in the bowl sitting in your lap. A small bucket with a wide opening (such as a big ice cream tub) works well for this.
If your baby is still a newborn or in the early months, you can hold your baby over a prefold diaper and just toss the diaper into a little bucket until morning. Putting a prefold at the bottom of your bowl or pan can mute sound and prevent “splash-backs,” too.
You'll likely find a workable situation for yourself and your baby pretty quickly. Experiment with what works the best for your family. Remember, it's okay to choose sleep over elimination communication 😉
Sleep / Potty Rhythms
You may want to pay close attention to your baby's nighttime rhythms. If your baby eliminates early in the night and then stays dry keep your baby in a diaper for the first part of the night and then leave him diaper free the rest of the night. Ingrid Bauer describes how she did this with her son in Diaper Free!
You want to keep your baby's bed – or your family bed – dry at night. An absorbent pad can make a big difference for you and for your baby. Having a pad under both of you also absorbs leaking milk at night.
You can find absorbent bed pads at most discount and department stores. You can also use a lambskin or fleece puddle pad.
Put a blanket over your diaper-free baby. Simple receiving blankets work well for a small baby. For an older baby you may want a larger blanket. Having a separate, lightweight blanket over your baby protects the top bedding in case you have a miss.
Your baby can sleep with you, skin to skin, if possible. If it's cold and you want your baby to be diaper free, dress your baby in a warm top and thick baby socks. EC pants, like those from ECWear (opens in a new tab), can make nighttime pottying easy.
Put a hat on your baby – a pilot cap not only looks sweet and classic, it also stays on your baby's head at night. The very best way to keep your baby warm at night is to keep her cuddled close to you.
Naptime works much the same as bedtime. Keep your bed or baby's bed protected with the same waterproof mat that you use at night.
Babies often stay dry through naps. One of the best ways to get to know your baby's timing and cues is to watch his elimination patterns around sleep. Cue your baby to pee as soon as he wakes up from his nap. This can help you both get used to ECing!
If you lie down to take a nap with your baby during the day (a great idea!), use the same bowl or bucket that you use at night. Or you may find that your baby wants to wait a few minutes after waking to go. You'll quickly get to know your baby.
Sleeping Diaper Free – What a Pleasant Dream!
With a little patience you'll figure out how to help your baby sleep diaper free – or at least with a dry diaper – at night and through naps. If your baby does wet at night, simply change the diaper when she wakes to nurse. Otherwise, enjoy some sweet sleep with your diaper free babe!
(NOTE: Want proven, practical strategies to make elimination communication work for you? Use these 5 proven techniques to connect when your baby and have EC success! Get them here.)