From the start we changed Maven at each feed, and gave him a pee-opp. By about two months he rarely pooped at night, so we were willing to try nappy free, plus I was better able to sit up in bed by then. I kept a box of tissues nearby in case he did a poo. He has never had a poop accident in bed, just a couple of ‘farty snarts’. At just over eight weeks we had our first completely nappy-free night, with Maven peeing into his bowl when he roused for a feed. It was awesome!
Stunningly empowering to a new Mum! We then had our next successful night at eleven weeks. From then I’d have a ‘go’ every few nights until I gained more confidence. From about three and a half months I was regularly peeing him at night. I’d have a break when needed, though. Many early misses were ‘just’ misses – still warm. We need fifteen seconds of disturbance to awaken, and I took a while to respond quickly sometimes. It was funny how some nights I’d incorporate Maven’s squirming into my dreams, only to have a miss! As in the day time, his awareness of sensations and control has improved, and so has mine, so that by seven months misses were very uncommon.
Sleep is so very important before night EC can work – find what pattern least disturbs everyone, yet keeps baby dry so they don’t wake up (if they are a baby that notices, some don’t at night)
Also, it is in no way a ‘requirement’ that you practice night-time EC – as there ARE no rules to EC – some babies HATE night pee ops, so do some parents! Give it a go now and then, see how you both go – you may be surprised. Or simply night nappy well and respond when you feel it will help the baby’s changing nightly needs. Get the nappy off fast in the morning though! Strive to catch that first big wee of the day – it is great to do that, an excellent timing opportunity to practice regularly.
I made about eight waterproof mats for the bed. The mat is thick towel topped with polar fleece, with plastic tablecloth sewn to the bottom. They feel dry to the bub with a miss. (They were also good in the first 3-4 months when Maven’s homeostasis was developing, and he was often really sweaty at night) I could wash one everyday – often several after a night at first. Four are thick, four are quilted white fabric with the waterproof backing – like in the photo. I have towel nappies for night time EC, and on my ‘missy’ nights I’d use four. I often preferred to use flannels or hand towels as they are less bulky. I found it was better to have the cloth between his legs for ease of ‘remove and replace’ during a pee-op. If it was under him I found it harder to change if we missed. We always use a mat for backup, no matter how good we get – they also collect any drool, spilt milk, baby spew, sweat and help us move Maven around easily as he creeps upwards in the bed during the night – just drag him down again on his mat.
He doesn’t actually wake up – it is called ‘transitional waking’ – his eyes are closed the entire time. Sometimes he goes straight back to dreamland after the pee, often he feeds. I’m asleep before he finishes, usually. When starting out with night EC, my number ONE sign was to check Maven’s willy – if he had a piggly-wiggly, it was pee-time, if not, hunger was the reason for the squirming. These days I listen to his breathing first. It took me several months of practise to incorporate these signs into my night awareness (at first it is tricky to remember to listen to his breathing at 3am), the awareness evolves over time, then becomes easier, then second nature.
I use a wide bowl that sits beside the bed on a waterproof mat. I sit up, grab it and hold it in place with my legs, move the cloth, pick him up into position, he pees. I cuddle him with one arm as I move the bowl, lay down, replace the cloth, and back to sleep. About thirty seconds, tops. I can remember tipping it up only once, so that is lucky! Wet cloths are dropped onto the waterproof mat. At seven months I am skipping the cloth as misses are rare now, so it is even easier!
At eight months I stopped using the mat for him to sleep on- first few nights were very ‘on call’ for me – hyper vigilant, offering unnecessary pee-breaks at squirms without checking for a feed need first, then having him arching. Then I relaxed into it. We have had few accidents, and each has been explainable.
I rest my arms on the wide bowl that I hold in place with my legs, and I hold him really relaxed back onto my chest, (head between boobs keeps him in place!) – so much more of a ‘dangerous’ aiming position! Instead of holding his thighs, I slip my wrists under his thighs so that I can hold my hands in front of any over spray – a few drops may get on my hand – better there than the sheets! So, I hold him with my wrists. The added benefit is that his legs drop apart and this also may help him to relax – he will certainly pee fairly quickly in this position.
At first he peed every time he woke for a feed – so every two hours. I got very used to wake, quick suck, pee, feed, sleep as his cycle every two hours or so. Around four to five months he started having a longer sleep early in the night, and around six months he started having less pees, still the same feeds. That is when it became important to remember to offer a feed first! If I forget, he will arch and complain if he didn’t need to pee. Around seven months he is peeing three times usually (BLISS) – 9pm, 2am and 5am, sometimes at 12 as well, if he is building antibodies or teething. But, it cycles. When teething he will some nights feed and pee every HOUR in the hours after 2am – seems to be just as the tooth is cutting. From nine months he has had some pee-less nights, depending on whatever is going on. When moving interstate, he went back to 2-3 hourly feeding/peeing for a week or so. From 11ish months he’d occasionally go overnight without needing to wee!
For a time I’d have only one ‘dry’ night a week, perhaps the only night I actually did it. After a while, I was happy with two misses a night, then one every few days. We cycled into better and better catch rates over time, and as I picked up new tips. By about four months I was doing great. If Maven was about to achieve a new skill, we’d have more misses, and if I was too tired. I’d then have a daytime nap with Maven then go to bed when he did for a few days. After a week with heaps of night misses around five months, I began drinking less in the evening and feeding from one side, and we haven’t looked back. (I don’t need to do that anymore, but it helped at that stage) In the early months I turned on my ‘touch lamp’ for light, especially when we were still using nappies with pins! Then I used a dull torch for a while. Now, we do all pee breaks in the dark. There is usually some ambient light around.
The best thing is that you do get better at it together, whether this is through time, better non-verbal communication or muscle control and bladder size – it is actually all of these. Expect a cycle of improvements – getting better, a few misses, then even better than before. I actually find night times the easiest now as he ALWAYS clearly communicates. It is so true about babies not wanting to ‘soil the nest’ they sleep in, although it takes time and practise to tune in to this instinct and to find a nightly pattern to support it.
When Maven was over eight months old we had a night with two misses. This was onto me and the sheets as we had stopped using bed mats. I simply laid a cloth nappy over them and went back to sleep. Knowing this was unusual, I learnt that if the baby’s sleep pattern is disturbed, the mechanism that helps suppress kidney function at night doesn’t kick in, the hormones to concentrate wee aren’t released, so more pee volume! It was spring, and in Adelaide we had the highest pollen count day ever. He had a stuffy nose and ‘elevens’. Next time this happened, I was ready to be more alert, and it has not been a problem since. Breastmilk squirted or dripped up the nose (when snoozing is easiest) is the time-honoured method for quickly solving the stuffy nose of a breastfed baby – antibodies and whatnot straight to the source of the problem!
While we were renovating our ensuite I had to walk through five doorways at night to go to the loo, so I tended to avoid doing this. It caused an amazing revelation. I was having unusual ‘test runs’ with Maven at night – I’d wake thinking he needed to pee from his signs, but when offered the opportunity, he just arched and complained. I was perplexed. Then I remembered a post the week before where a lady had experienced a ‘role reversal’ of pee signs at night, and realised this is what was happening to us! I was the one who needed to go, and he was signalling to ME! I experimented the next few nights, and found that after a ‘test run’ if I got up and went, he’d relax and go deeply asleep. Amazing, and it has continued to be a new awareness I have if he declines a pee at night – do I need to go? Also, if he signalled, yet when I held him he’d go to sleep, this was another clue to ask myself the same question. I have found this the most surreal aspect of practising EC – that our intuitive connection works both ways in the quiet environment of the night, sleeping with a small babe snuggled beside me.
I just spent an interesting night. Hubby was spewing yesterday – caught the bug from me and bubs who had it the day before. He spewed every hour for 24 hours, thank god for the booby – he is fine now, apart from it working out the other end with some yucky poops, only one ‘runny bum’ accident though.
The interesting thing was watching them mirror each other all night. Bubsy was between us, but very close to me as Daddy was hot – but everything Dad did, baby copied in his sleep! Although he wasn’t hot, he kicked off the covers all night just like Dad did, and even assumed the same sleeping poses each time he moved!
He was really tuned in to his Dad and kept racing in to him when he chucked, stroking him and trying to collect and empty the bowl!!
By the time he was 18-24 months he reduced from one pee overnight to none, or maybe one a week for a while, then one a fortnight, then rarely, usually related to some other issue, such as me having caffeine before bed, or he having a bloggy nose (which means more wees). It is a strange state of affairs that your toddler has a bigger bladder capacity then you do! I am still getting up around 4am to go! It is amazing how well he holds all night and then says “wee wee- potty” when he is ready. I was unsurprised really that this development closely mirrored his ability to sleep through the night. Thought he would have a quick wee then bomb out again at those early morning wees. Currently he is 26 months and so rarely has a night miss, and so rarely uses his trusty old wee-bowl, it is just something beside the bed. He uses it occasionally.
Discover More about My Elimination Communication eBook: Part Time EC: A Personal Guide to Developing Your Elimination Communication Confidence…