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 2) – The Process

toiletpaper

Welcome back to the world of potty training! In the first part of this post series, we looked at the background behind this whole rather ‘potty’ process of weaning off the last nighttime diaper and the fears I had (See post titled “Saying Goodbye to that Last Overnight Diaper (Part 1) – Background”). Here, in part 2 of this post series, I would like to describe the successful process I undertook. These are the main steps involved:

  • Have a small potty in her bedroom at ALL times, so that she gets used to using that during the day.
  • Install a small dim nightlight in toddler’s room, bright enough so that she can still see and use the potty.
  • Get toddler up earlier in the morning and earlier to bed in the evening. That way, you will have a chance to go in and do the first ‘potty run’ at night before you head to bed.
  • Give your toddler the last chance to drink water about 1-2 hours before bedtime.
  • Prepare the bed: have spare bedsheets and place disposable mattress pads underneath the fitted sheet. Some even wrap the entire mattress in plastic before attempting night time potty training!
  • As part of the bedtime routine, the last step is to have your toddler pee before being tucked into bed.
  • Do some initial investigating: the key is to know your toddler’s night time pattern: how often does he/she tend to pee in the diaper at night? Is it usually about 2-3 hours after he/she falls asleep? If so, you can time the first ‘potty run’ at that time to keep the diaper dry. Then once or twice at night, you can go in to check the toddler’s diaper to see if it is wet to gauge roughly when the next ‘potty run’ needs to be timed.
  • You can initially start with one ‘potty run’ a night first, to get you and your toddler used to the idea of waking up and getting back to sleep quickly. Then gradually add in the 2nd
  • First thing in the morning, when the toddler wakes, you need to get the toddler used to using the potty immediately (if she/he feels the need to). This may mean you waking up first earlier prior to the toddler waking up, until the toddler is used to going to the potty automatically after waking up.
  • Praise the toddler and give a big reward (e.g., she can sleep with a stuffed toy of her choosing, and/or a small surprise toy or roll of stickers) if the diaper stays dry for a few days in a row. Then when the child’s diaper stays dry for a week or more in a row, he/she can move on to a trial of regular underwear (with/without an outer pair of plastic pants) at night!

Note that this entire process may take slightly longer than the ‘cold turkey’ method, since it is a graduated approach, and involves some trial and error. Your toddler will also continue to use the diaper for a while.

An alternative method is to buy a pair of plastic training pull up shorts or pants, and to put on the underwear inside. Then if the child wets himself or herself, he or she will feel naturally uncomfortable and wake up. This will prevent much urine getting on the bedsheets, but may help the child get more used to waking up on his/her own to pee. The plastic training shorts apparently aren’t too expensive, and usually come in a set of 2-4 pairs. If you prefer this method, it may be worth a try with your toddler!

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

peacarrotscornbowl_topost

Mind the peas (carrots and corn…) – dietitianmom.com

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!

Special Pre-2 Milestones

Children looking at birthday cakeOur toddler will be turning 2 in about a week. While that is exciting in itself (more so for us the parents so we can celebrate the survival of another year of parenting!), two things happened this week that I consider to be the true “icing on the cake”. The first was somewhat expected, but the other truly threw my husband and I!

The 1st – we have nearly come to the end of potty training! For some, potty training is a mere 3 day process and carried out when the toddler is much older. But for us, we began this process much earlier at about 9 months of age because of the many benefits of early potty training (see post on Starting Potty Training at 9 Months…Yes You Can!). It has been a good process overall but a long one. We began with working on “number 2’s” and then starting at 20 months of age more intentionally working on “number 1’s”. In these last two weeks, she seemed to be finally getting the concept of telling us when she needs to go and holding it in time to get to the potty seat, but there were still a few accidents. For a while I would get excited that it would be an “accident-free day” but then the accident on the floor would happen, sometimes right in front of my eyes. Eventually I stopped expecting and looking for that perfect success day, and pretty much forgot about it. Then two days ago, I suddenly realized at my toddler’s bedtime that there had been no accidents and no wet diapers to change that day! And yesterday was the same! Our toddler is finally almost potty trained! (Of course, she still wears a diaper at night sleeping, and who knows when or how she will transition out of that…)

The 2nd – this came totally unexpected. That same “accident free” day, we were putting our toddler down for the routine afternoon nap. Usually one of us would stay by her side until she fell asleep or in rare cases if she didn’t obey and at least lie down on the bed, we would leave the room and let her “cry it out” for 10 or 15 minutes at a time. However, that day she refused to lie down, and when my husband told her that he was leaving the room, instead of putting up a fuss, she just simply said,”Okay.” So then my husband left the room and closed the door. And there was no fuss, no screaming or crying! She just put herself to sleep and slept until we woke her up!

The same thing happened that night. Again I would put her down at bedtime and usually stay by her side until she was asleep or close to being asleep before I slipped out the door. However, she again refused to lie down and just sat in the crib. When I said I was going to leave the room, she simply remained calm and nodded. I then said, “Good night.” And she said, “Good night” back to me. So I kissed her head, then left the room and closed the door. And she just went ahead and put herself to sleep that night. No fuss, no crying, no whining. My husband and I both couldn’t believe it. We wanted to run out and pop champagne that instant! Now, let’s just hope these  two new habits will continue…

Going Potty (Part 2): A Pretty Potty Comparison

babytoiletpic2During the spring, we went on a ‘potty seat hunt’. There were a few reasons for this: 1) our old toilet top potty seat was cracking so we wanted a better one, 2) our baby has a skinny, small-sized bottom so we needed one that would comfortably fit her, and 3) we were traveling soon overseas, so we hoped to find one that could be easily brought around. In the end, I think we’ve probably tried more potty seats than the average family!

Perhaps your child doesn’t have any trouble on the potty seat you bought. But if your little one is like mine, who continues to be small-sized and more bony-bottomed (at 20 months, she weighed approximately 22 pounds or 10 kg still), then you may have more trouble finding the right seat for your child. I hope our experience can help you. Here are 5 toilet top potty seats we’ve tried (in order of worst to best, with a simple rating in terms of expense (in $ signs).

BabyBjorn Toilet Trainer ($$$) (Also available in UK)
http://www.amazon.com/BABYBJORN-Toilet-Trainer-White-Black/dp/B0009PAN7Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1400244131&sr=1-1&keywords=baby+bjorn+potty+seat

Our Experience: This turned out to be heavier than we thought and it was hard (like a regular toilet seat). Our toddler found it uncomfortable to sit on for a long time, and it gave some harsh red pressure marks on her thighs within just a minute or two. I also noticed that the packaging said it was for ‘2+’, so perhaps this was too big for our 20 month old child at the time.

Dreambaby Soft Touch Potty Seat ($$) (Also available in UK)
http://www.amazon.com/Dreambaby-Soft-Touch-Potty-White/dp/B009K8NFG4/ref=sr_1_15?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1400244251&sr=1-15&keywords=baby+bjorn+potty+seat

Our Experience: When the packaging was first opened, I noticed that the material was slightly softer but was put off by the very strong smell of chemicals from the potty seat. It ended up still being too hard for our toddler (who did not want to sit in it long) and we found it also gave some strong red marks on her thighs after we took her off it within a few minutes. Needless to say, we didn’t keep this very long in our home either…

Mommy’s Helper Contoured Cushie Tushie Potty Seat ($) (Also available in UK though price more variable)
http://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Helper-Contoured-Cushie-Tushie/dp/B00081MHI4/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Description: The size of this potty seat was smaller than the other potty seats we have bought and tried, which could be a plus or minus depending on the size of your child. The length is about 11 inches compared to the WeePOD toilet trainer which is about 15 inches. The center oval hole is a perfectly round oval. The cushion is thicker (about 1.5 inches) than most other potty seats but it is not as soft and cushiony as the WeePOD products. It is obvious that it is made of a cheaper material as expected given the price, but the cushion likely won’t break/crack as it has a hard plastic circular support ring underneath. This potty seat also comes with a handle and a plastic adhesive hook for you to hang the potty seat on.

Our Experience: In reading some reviews of this product online, some said the seat didn’t work because it was too small and that it smelt badly. However, we were pleasantly surprised that it did not smell and also that it fit our toddler’s bottom quite well (probably because of the smaller size). At first, our toddler complained when she was put on it, but then she got used to it relatively quickly. There were still some red pressure contact marks on her thighs after just a few minutes of sitting on the seat, but this shouldn’t be an issue as long as baby is not sitting on it for an extended length of time. I think it helps that the cushion is higher and thicker, because our toddler was able to ‘sit’ better on it with the legs slightly angled down. This likely made it more comfortable for her (rather than the legs sticking straight out). We loved the compact size and ended taking it with us on our travels which worked out really well. It actually fits on the airplane lavatory toilet seats, as well as on all the toilet seats tried in US, Taipei and Singapore! And the biggest selling point to our child? She loved the little orange duck pictures on the potty seat!

Note: Due to its smaller size, this potty seat can slip around, so you need to be careful and supervise your child while he/she is on the seat. Also when you put the toddler on the seat, put the child as far back as possible (instead of perching towards the front of the seat). This will be more comfortable for the child and helps distribute child’s weight more over his/her bottom and legs.

Prince Lionheart WeePOD Basix ($$) (Also available in UK)
http://www.amazon.com/Prince-Lionheart-weePOD-Basix-Berry/dp/B005ZBI03I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374161187&sr=8-1&keywords=wee+pod+basix+prince+lionheart

Our Experience: This was the first potty seat we got when our baby turned 9 months. Our baby had no complaints from the get-go and it worked really well for a few months. Then as our baby got heavier and got up to about 18 pounds, we noticed that it started to develop cracks. This is likely from the pressure of baby’s bottom sitting on it. We were able to fix the cracks with superglue a couple of times but knew this would not be a long term solution. On the plus side, this potty seat is really quite cushiony and soft. It is also quite light and easy to bring about when traveling on the road.

Prince Lionheart WeePOD Toilet Trainer/Cushiony WeePOD ($$$) (Also available in UK)
http://www.amazon.com/Prince-Lionheart-weePOD-Ash-Grey/dp/B005ZBHZEI/ref=sr_1_2?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1400244494&sr=1-2&keywords=prince+lionheart+potty+seat

Description: This potty seat comes cushioned and is contoured with a slightly higher back portion (still cushioned), so it actually looks like a little seat (more comfortable for little ones!). You can tell it is an improved version of the basic one mentioned above. The cushion portion is not as soft as the original wee POD basix but it is still comfortable. This is probably a good transition anyway to a toddler eventually using a regular toilet seat. It also has a turn knob at the back to allow you to adjust the seat to fit the specific shape of the toilet seat better. The potty seat has a smaller hole design, making it more suitable for younger babies as well as toddlers. The shape of the hole is also more contoured (smaller width towards the front) so overall there is more cushion support for baby. It also comes with a handle. Furthermore, there is a hard plastic bottom to support the cushion portion so no more cracks!

Our Experience: This turned out to be the best for us! We loved it and our toddler sat on it without complaints from the first day forward. The only downside we found was that it is quite heavy so not suitable for traveling, so we just had this for regular use at home. This is a keeper!

Happy Potty Seat Shopping!