Saying Goodbye to that Last Overnight Diaper (Part 3) – The Experience

Having described my background fears and the process of weaning off that last nighttime diaper (see previous posts 1 and 2 in this series), what was my experience? Not knowing what would happen, I decided to try just one potty waking at night first, before adding in a second one. The initial goal I had was really just to get her used to getting up 1-2 times at night to pee and then to learn to put herself back to sleep. It was not so much to achieve a dry diaper every night. Here’s my experience:

First Potty Waking (each night I put my toddler to bed before 9pm):
Night 1
I went in about 6 hours after her bedtime. This was too late as her diaper was already wet. I woke her up gently, but she told me she didn’t need to go. I still carried her and put her on the potty briefly.

Night 2
I went in 3 ½ hours after she was put to bed, and found her diaper already a little bit wet. She let me pull her pants and diaper down, but I had to carry her to the potty. Once there though, she sat down and automatically took a piece of toilet paper and wiped herself. I asked her in a whisper, “Did you go?” (as I didn’t hear anything). She whispered back,” Yes.” Then she let me pull her pants/diaper back up and walk her back to bed. I gave her a kiss and left the room quickly!

Night 3
I went into her room at about 2 ¾ hours after she was put to bed. Her diaper was already wet and she didn’t have anything on the potty.

Night 4 & 5
I went in each of these nights at 2 ½ hours after her bedtime and found her diaper still dry! Each time I carried her to the potty (after pulling her pants/diaper down), helped her pee, and then helped her back to bed. She almost immediately went back to sleep!

After a few successful nights of waking her up at night about 1.5- 2.5 hours after her final potty break before bed, I decided to add in a 2nd potty waking. Here is what happened the first few nights:

Second Potty Waking
Night 1
I tried the first night to go in about 5 hours after the 1st potty waking. Her diaper was still dry! So I quickly pulled down her diaper and pants and carried her to the potty. She went, but I had to help her pull up her pants and get her back to bed. The next morning though, she had a REALLY hard time getting up (even though she awoke at a usual time), and didn’t want to get out of bed though she was awake, saying she was tired… Her diaper was still dry in the morning, and she didn’t feel the need to go to the potty until much later after she woke up!

Night 2
I went in again about 4-5 hours after the 1st potty waking, but I made the mistake of not taking away her security pillow from her hand, before waking her up and pulling the diaper/pants down. So when I carried her to the potty, she yelped as she was afraid her security pillow would get wet! Although I quickly took the pillow away, she had woken up a bit more by this point. So after I got her back to bed (after having her pull up her own diaper and pants), she didn’t want me to leave the room. I told her I would stay with her for ‘2 minutes’ and did this, and then she let me leave the room. The next morning, she was again didn’t want to leave her bed and lay in it for half an hour more, despite having woken up already!

Night 3
I went in for the first potty waking and while she went on the potty, I could tell she was EXTREMELY tired, and so I had to pull up her diaper/pants and help her back to bed. I decided to let her stay asleep the rest of the night and not wake her up for the 2nd potty waking.

After a few more nights of trying this method, I found that really only one potty waking a night was needed to maintain a dry diaper throughout the night, especially if the first potty waking was timed right at about 1.5-2 hours after her last potty break before bed. The key was to make sure my toddler went quickly to the potty the moment she woke up in the morning. Within a few weeks, my toddler started to wake up with a dry diaper consistently, and she also became more adept at going to the potty at night if she needed to and going back to sleep afterwards. In fact, after about 2 months of this process, she only had 1-2 nighttime accidents in terms of wetting her bed, and I even stopped having to go in to wake her up for the first potty waking at night!

So at the end of this process, I am glad to say, my worst fears were unfounded! I was so afraid my toddler would be screaming at being woken up, and would be extra clingy to me, take forever to put back to sleep, and no longer sleep well at night…but thankfully none of that happened. I was actually very surprised how smooth the process was, and how quickly my toddler got the concept of going to the potty herself at night!


Saying Goodbye to that Last Overnight Diaper (Part 1) – Background

starry01Just as sleeping patterns seem to vary (see post Sleeping Patterns Do Differ), there appears to be different East versus West conceptions of the appropriate time to wean a child from the diaper. From what I’ve heard from relatives and friends living in Asia, there is a general more relaxed attitude towards toddlers who wear diapers (unless of course, you live in a country where it’s not a customary practice for infants/children to wear diapers in the first place). Usually children are allowed to continue to wear an overnight diaper until they are at least 5 or 6 years of age. The reasoning is that by this age the child would have gradually established better bladder retention and thus wake up with a dry diaper most nights of the week. In other words, children stay in diapers at night until they gradually wean themselves out of needing it. On the other hand, it appears that in most western cultures, there is the perception that the sooner a child is out of diapers the better, so more pressure exists to get a child completely out of diapers.

Our toddler was potty trained in the daytime at approximately 2 ½ years old, but didn’t really get the hang of ‘wearing a panty and not wetting the bed’ during the afternoon naps until she was about 3 years old. Then at 3 years and 3 months of age, I finally started on the last process of diaper weaning – getting her to stop using an overnight diaper. I admit – there is some maternal grandmother pressure on this front – but I also feel cognitively and developmentally she is probably ready for the challenge now. After all, she has been picking up other skills quickly like how to brush her own teeth, wipe her face, fold clothes, button her jacket, etc.

I admit, I’ve been putting off the process a little bit due to existing fears. The biggest one is: “What if I wake her up and she refuses or has trouble going back to sleep?” After having a toddler who sleeps soundly 10-11 hours at night without much fuss, giving you the parent much need time to relax and rest, it is intimidating to think that you can be now ‘disturbing the peace’. After all, why disrupt what is working well? Another thought is: “Now I will need to get up a few times at night to help train the child, so I will be losing my own long stretches of sleep, and may have trouble getting back to sleep!” A third thought is: “Great, now I will have to do more laundry and deal with wet bed sheets, clothes and unhappy toddlers…” I know, I know, these are all pessimistic and selfish thoughts. But I know that letting something continue just for one’s own comfort and convenience may not be in the best interest of the child from a developmental and psychological perspective. I’ve heard of cases where the child continues to sleep in the same bed as the parents though the child is over 8 years of age, simply because that has become what the child is used to, and is now difficult to change. I know I need to overcome my own convenience and fears for the sake of the child.

So what did I do? Instead of going immediately cold turkey with the diaper, I decided on a gradual ‘night time diaper weaning’ approach. Sure this method may take longer, but I think I can live with that. See the upcoming Part 2 post to find out the actual process I undertook!

Potty Training? Books Can Help

Pottybook1Are you in the midst of potty training your child?  If so, this can be a breeze or a very long drawn out process. For my husband and I, it was more like climbing a slippery hill – generally a smooth upward trek, but with lots of small backsliding moments. I can’t say that we are over the hump or hill of potty training yet (still working on no diapers during the afternoon naptime, and haven’t tackled that overnight diaper), but we are making progress. The most frustrating thing as a parent can be that just when you think you’ve achieved a small victory, you receive a small setback. For example, our 35 month old toddler had been doing well at school and in church nursery with not wetting her pants despite just wearing underwear since she was about 29 months of age. We had also been teaching her to notify the teacher that she needs to use the small toilet in the next adjacent room. However, just two weeks ago, she came out of church nursery with wet pants, and just last week she came home from school with wet undies and jeans.

Similarly, at the start of August we replaced the diaper with underwear for her afternoon naps. In the first week she wet the bed about 3 times. Then after that, she went through an amazing nearly 2 weeks of not wetting the bed once in the afternoons! But then 2 weeks ago, she wet her bed about 4 days in a row, and also wet her undies a few times. Granted, I may have given her too much soup on a few of those occasions too close to her naptime, but still it was frustrating to see her backtrack when she had been doing so well (not to mention all the extra laundry!).

I’ve since learned through experience a few tips about smart pre-nap planning before afternoon naps, especially if you have a child with a small bladder like mine. First, only give a very, very small amount of milk, water or soup at lunch. Second, try to finish the entire lunch at least 1- 1 ½ hours before naptime. That way, your toddler will have enough time to have any liquids she consumed work through her system and use the potty once or twice before she goes down for a nap!

Lastly, books can really help! I’ve read to her a couple of “potty” books in the past 8 or 9 monthsPottybppkpic3, but none seemed to really make a big impression on her. However, I recently borrowed this book from the library, titled “Ian’s New Potty” by Pauline Oud (Clavis Publishing), and it became her favorite book for the next 2 to 3 days. First published in 2010 in Belgium, this book was translated from Dutch into English and then published in the English language in 2011. Perhaps my toddler could finally identify (based on her recent experiences) with the Ian character in the book who wet his pants while playing (she was mesmerized by Ian’s expression and this image on the right). Anyway, she kept looking at the pages of the book and asking me to read it. Of course I also played up the book’s content, and used Ian as a positive role model for my toddler (“See, he only wet his pants once and then he learned, and now his underpants are dry!”). I believe this book along with the 2 tips I employed above really helped stem her wave of bedwetting. So far it has been 11 days and no afternoon bedwetting yet. Hope this continues!

Toddler Regression


Mind the peas (carrots and corn…) –

When my toddler turned 29 months, I noticed a big change in the way she was acting. It’s almost as if she went into a phase of “toddler regression”. Whereas she used to love finger foods and would love all sorts of cooked and certain raw vegetable pieces to pick up (like peas, carrots, corn, tomatoes, cooked mushrooms, zucchini, squash etc.), now she won’t touch them with a 10 foot pole! Even tomatoes, which is her absolute favorite and she used to love picking them up on her plate. Now she is so picky that if she sees some vegetables pieces in her food, she might try to pick them out. She’ll even tell me spontaneously that she doesn’t like vegetables, but seriously, where did she learn this? She is still not around other children enough, and she doesn’t get vegetables for snacks at preschool. Even more puzzling is that while she’s developed an aversion to vegetables, her love and intake of fruits has skyrocketed. I thought it might be due to her teething so she didn’t want to eat vegetables that were too crunchy because it hurt her teeth, but discarded that theory when I saw her chomp down on apples. I’m wondering if it’s also because I’ve lately started giving her more dried fruit (which is naturally very sweet and some with added sweetness like dried cranberries) so perhaps she’s developing more of a sweet tooth compared to “blander” vegetables.

There were two other developments. First, it is like she has developed some kind of x-ray vision (without glasses). If she sees some specks of spices and herbs added to her foods like basil, she won’t hesitate to take time to painstakingly take out each and every speck that she sees. The other development, more astonishing, has to do with her using the potty. She has been potty trained pretty much for at least 6 months by the time she turned 29 months of age. However, just the other day she wet her pants 4-5 times in a day, and even had a poop accident in her pants! It wasn’t like she was in distress, and the potty was there within reach. It was almost like she was playing and just forgot to go in the potty, or lost her inner signal about needing to go (with her usual telltale little ‘I need to run to the potty’ jig).

Well as strange as all these behaviors were, I’ve had to come up with some ways to deal with them. The potty issue thankfully got a little bit better over the following few days, and now at 31 months, she’s back to her potty routine without issues.  This may be due to the fact that she has matured more developmentally and possibly also because we started implementing a strict no nonsense attitude regarding it. Since we know that she is potty trained and there’s no excuse for her not going in the potty, if we catch her with her pants wet, then she can expect a negative consequence. As for her behaviors eating wise, these also got a little bit better (not as picky about seeing spices in her food), but she’s still off lots of finger foods like peas, carrots and corn. See my upcoming post for some food ‘counter tactics’ I’ve had to implement!

Going Potty (Part 1): Basic Nuts and Bolts

Following my recent post on potty training (see Starting Potty Training at 9 Months…Yes, You Can!), below are a few simple tips to help you get started:

Observe, Observe, Observe
If you are not already aware of it, take a few days to tune in first to your baby’s current bowel habits. Is he/she usually going first thing in the morning, mid-morning, or in the evenings? How many times a day does your baby go, or is it every other day? If you need to, jot down the time(s) in the day that your child does ‘#2s’ (i.e., poops) until you get a sense of a rough pattern emerging.

Get Ready
Besides observing your baby’s pattern, get prepared by getting a good comfortable potty seat. This will make it more likely that your baby will be willing and wanting to sit on it a few times a day, and for varying lengths of time. What to get may depend on your baby, but we’ve found a soft cushiony potty seat works quite well for a small baby’s bottom. We’ve actually had to try out quite a few potty seats and found our little one really didn’t like the ones that were hard plastic, or were too wide so that it was uncomfortable to sit on for a long time. So make sure to get one that is suitable for infants (or at least for those under 18 months of age or so) and not for older toddlers. If you have more than one bathroom/toilet in the house, it may also be worth designating one of those as the ‘baby potty’ room, so you can keep the potty seat on the commode and your baby may more readily associate that room with where she needs to do her ‘business’.

Get Set
When you feel ready to start, watch your infant closely when it gets around that time of day when baby usually poops. I find the trickiest part is actually just watching her cues closely to see when she wants to go! Then the moment you notice the first signs of straining or grunting, quickly bring baby to the potty seat. These signs can sometimes be quite subtle. For example, at times baby will look at you with clear distress on the face and may even start to turn red in the face. At other times, he or she may only give out the tiniest of grunts or not at all! During these latter times, you may need to be more proactive and just put baby on the potty seat close to the time of day when she tends to poop. This may only need to be a few minutes at a time. I have at times done this, and was amazed when baby actually went and did her #2!

Go! Give Lots of Encouragement!
When baby gets on the potty seat, teach her the hand sign to do ‘poo poo’ and keep repeating  ‘poo poo’ or ‘mm mm’ grunting sounds so that he/she will start to associate it with pooping or sitting on the commode. If baby actually does go while on the potty seat, then clap and cheer to give her lots of encouragement! It helps if you are consistent in doing these actions every day. By 11 -12 months, I found that the moment I put her on the potty seat, she often would seem to know what to do, and at times she began to expect to be put on the potty when she felt a #2 coming, by pointing at her bathroom or making some grunting noises.

A few caveats of course. First, things can get tricky during phases of teething or sickness, so I usually give up the potty training then and wait till things calm down more. Secondly, remember that even though you are starting early, potty training is still a process that will take many months to accomplish (especially when it comes to working on ‘#1s’…i.e., urinating in the toilet instead of in the diaper). Thirdly, potty training is not a perfect process. Even after many months of training, my 19 month old is still occasionally having ‘poo’ accidents in the diaper, especially on days of teething. Don’t get disheartened, just keep on training!

Starting Potty Training at 9 Months…Yes, You Can!

My mother loves to tell the story of how she started potty training me at 6 months, putting me on the toilet seat when I seemed about ready to do my bowel movement. Yes…well while I personally think that is really too young to start the process, I do consider the period between 9-12 months of age to be a quite a good time to start. I see this as the ‘moldable stage’ and a real window of opportunity. By 8 ½ to 9 months old, babies are usually more established on solids and often a pattern in their pooping begins to emerge (e.g., 1-2 times a day in morning/evening). Baby can now sit up quite well on his or her own with minimal support, and loves imitating, attention and praise. So now is a great time to do many things like getting baby used to different foods and textures, as well as starting potty training. Carpe diem!

What are the benefits of beginning potty training early? Tons! Here are just a few:

  • Saves on diapers!
  • Less messy clean-up for you (remember those smelly poo smeared baby bottoms and diapers?)
  • Reduction in diaper rash potential from baby sitting in a moist dirty diaper for too long before you notice it.
  • It may be easier to start the process now to get baby used to it, while baby is relatively compliant and more or less happy to sit on the potty (especially if you give a toy, read a book or otherwise distract baby a little if needed).

Some parents may just decide baby is not ready and want to wait till their child is at least 2 years of age before trying, and that’s fine as well. The benefit is that the older the child is, the process of potty training is often much faster (possibly within a couple of days) especially if there is peer pressure from other children their age!

If you decide you want to start potty training sooner, let me recommend starting with the #2s first (the poos) as this is easier to do than trying to work on #1s (urine). You and baby will feel more of a sense of accomplishment and this will also lessen those poopy diapers faster!

(More tips on potty training to follow – stay tuned!)


5 Simple Ways to Prevent Diaper Rash

No one likes nappy rash…least of all the baby. It was a surprise to me how easily babies can get it, and how difficult it is to get rid of it once it occurs! All I did was leave baby’s wet diaper on for a little bit longer than usual one night when she was about 2 months old, and then the next day I saw the dreaded red rash appear. Even though she only had a mild case of diaper rash, it still took more than 6 weeks with constant vigilance, diaper creams, airing out and frequent nappy changes before it got better. Even now, the affected area still turns a bit red whenever it is in contact with a more soiled or full diaper. It’s really true—prevention is better than cure! So here are 5 simple ways to keep your baby’s skin looking pretty and rash-free:

Use Cotton Balls & Water Instead of Baby Wipes.
In the UK, it was advised in the prenatal classes to use cotton balls with some cooled boiled water to clean baby for at least the first 4- 6 weeks of life. It was not recommended to use any wet wipes, but if these are used, then the advice was to choose the unperfumed version as baby’s skin is very thin and sensitive. Then after 4-6 weeks, you can slowly introduce products. The pediatrician I saw in Singapore was actually adamant that I shouldn’t use ANY baby wipes at all if I wanted to avoid diaper rash. I couldn’t bear the thought of not using any baby wipes, so I do use them, but very sparingly. I use a piece or two when baby’s had a real bad poopy diaper, and then move on to cotton balls dipped in water for the rest of the cleaning. Of course, we still use baby wipes when we’re out and about.

It’s really not that troublesome to use cotton balls and water to clean baby. Just keep a plastic bowl, a bottle of cooled boiled water, and a bag of cotton balls ready at baby’s bedside or changing table. Then after cleaning baby, gently pat the area dry with a piece of tissue paper or cloth, and let air dry for a couple of minutes before putting on the diaper cream.

Bare Butt Time.
Air out your baby’s butt as often as you can (this is easier at the stage when they can do tummy time, and can’t crawl much yet). Also let the skin air dry for a bit after cleaning, before putting on the diaper cream, and fastening up the diaper. I know the temptation is often to do the diaper change quickly, and to slap on the diaper cream right after cleaning and close up that diaper. But it’s worth a few extra minutes to let the skin dry properly and air out first. Babies love attention, so take this time to play with baby’s feet, hands, sing songs, play peek-a-boo or hand baby a toy to be fascinated with.

Choose a Thin Absorbent Diaper.
Not all diapers are created equal. Brands and products can vary. Sometimes the product marketed as super absorbent may be quite thick and not help matters. So when choosing one for your baby, test out diapers and pick one that is as thin and as absorbent as possible. You can also interchange disposable diapers with cloth diapers during the day if you want which may help.

Check & Change Diapers Frequently.
Before, after a feed, and after a nap. Check frequently and often! Boys can tend to pass more urine than girls, so may get a full diaper faster.

Use a Good Diaper Cream.
Not all diaper creams are created equal. The one I ended up using is called ‘Triple Paste’ but there may be other good ones out there. And you don’t have to wait till baby gets a nappy rash before you start applying the diaper cream. It often works well as a preventative measure, especially at night when you know baby might be wearing that same diaper for a longer period of time.