No More Diapers – Step 4

Wow, how time flies! About 6 months ago I wrote a post outlining how we had gone about potty training with Stella. She has been “awake” potty trained since following the first three steps below when she was between 14-17 months old. (click on the post to read more details)

  • Step 1: Sitting the kid on the toilet before bath time every night.
  • Step 2: Naked from the waist down whenever we were home on weekends (Fri-Sun). 
  • Step 3: Consistency at Daycare, Nana’s House, and Home

I mentioned in that post that I would update with how we did Steps 4 & 5, but I never did! Part of that is because we have not yet attempted Step 5.

  • Step 4: Daytime (out & about time) without Diapers
  • Step 5: Nap & Bedtime Training

Backing up to Step 4 though, Courtney just asked me to outline a bit what we did for this part because they’re about to embark on potty training, so I figured I’d share some tips for step 4 and then ask for YOUR help, kind readers, with step 5. 🙂 I’m sure most of these tips are pretty obvious, but maybe you’ll find a little gem of helpful information in here!

Tips for those first few weeks out & about without diapers on:

  • Always have the kid sit on the potty before you get in the car / leave the house in the stroller / etc. Make it part of their normal routine. Just like you need to put on your shoes and coat to go to the park, you also need to go potty first. Repeat this every time you leave the restaurant/store/grandma’s house/etc – even if the kid just peed 20 minutes ago. The worst feeling is being 7 minutes from home and 7 minutes from grandma’s house with a frantic little girl in the car seat who needs to pee.
  • Don’t be afraid to pull over on the side of the road to avoid a potty accident. Some people travel with a portable potty, some just hold their kid in a seated/squatting position (me) next to the car. It’s way better to do this than have an inconsolable, wet child crying in a soaked car seat. Take it from me. *Ahem*
  • Don’t let the toddler have a sippy cup of milk/water right before a car trip or during the car trip. This isn’t forever, but just until they learn how to hold it better. We probably had a month or two where we restricted fluids in the car / right before trips.
  • Always bring a spare set of undies & pants with you when you leave the house. Accidents happen. Don’t get cocky.
  • Know ahead of time where the bathrooms are located in every store, park, and restaurant that you frequent. Time is of the essence when your toddler announces “I need to pee!”
  • Be aware if the public restroom has an auto-flush toilet. One at the local hot springs scared the ever living tar out of Stella, and she almost regressed back to diapers because of it. Keep a packet of sticky notes in your purse to put over the sensor to keep it from flushing while the kid is on the toilet.
  • Utilize the power of group trips to the bathroom. Stella and one of her friends were potty training around the same time, and if one needed to go, the other would always want to go with. Go with it & be stoked they’re practicing their pottying skills!

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Okay, so those are my tips for step 4. If I forgot to address a concern of yours, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll help out if I have any clue.

Now on to Step 5 – Nap & Bedtime Potty Training. AKA – how the hell do you do this?

Stella is 26 months old, and about a month ago we took off the front of her crib for a couple of weeks and converted it to a toddler bed. We ended up putting it back on – not so much because of her wandering out of it, but moreso because she started throwing HORRIBLE fits about putting a diaper on to go to bed. I have zero idea what the correlation is there, but sure as shit – we put the front of the crib back on, and no more meltdowns about putting a diaper on and laying down for nap/bedtime. Weird, right?

However, the new problem is this — she’s often taking her diaper off in the crib. If she doesn’t fall asleep almost instantly, she ends up talking to herself, singing, and telling stories to her baby doll. That is totally fine with us, but eventually she is calling out to us because (1) she needs to pee/poop, or (2) she already peed/pooped and has taken her diaper off because she can’t stand being in a wet/dirty diaper.


I feel like the only way around this is to take the front of the crib back off, put her in undies, and tell her she can get out of bed to go potty if she wants. I’m just incredibly worried that will create more problems than it solves.

Thoughts? Ideas? I am SO TIRED of stripping a pee soaked kid out of her jammies in the middle of the night, changing her sheets, and washing extra laundry every day. We even tried putting her back in a cloth diaper since I’m doing CD laundry again. She left that diaper on, but peed through the diaper… so we still had the same issue of a soaking wet kid & bed.

If your kid was night time potty trained while still in a crib, how did you do it? Did you restrict fluids in the evenings / at night? What other tips do you have? How old was the child? 

If your kid was not night time potty trained while still in a crib, did you struggle with the diaper removal issue? Short of using duct tape, how did you deal with it?!

Stella still has milk with dinner (about 6:15) and bedtime is about one hour later. Sometimes she asks for water in bed, and if she does, we give her a sippy cup with 1-2 oz of water in it (it’s really dry here in Colorado, even with a humidifier running in her room all the time). She always pees before naptime/bedtime, but her diaper is still soaked by the time she wakes up, so I really don’t think she can hold it all nap / night long. Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know?



  1. Ok so this is really not from personal experience as mine (23 months) still refuses to actually produce anything outside of the diaper. But a friend I follow on IG just potty trained her 23 month old in 3 days (jealous, wish she could come do same for mine). And for night time, she wakes him up before she goes to sleep and takes him to the potty. She also said if she doesn’t, he hates being wet, so he will wake up and call out to them in middle of night. He is still in crib, so he doesn’t get out on his own yet. I have friends with older kids who did that too, wake them up once in middle of nigbt. Mine has a super full diaper in the am too, but I noticed most of it happens as soon as he gets up. If I got to him the moment his eyes opened, he could probably go in potty (if he actually would do it and not just completely refuse). So I’m not sure if this helps, and I am dreading attempts to potty train myself.

  2. Great idea about the sticky notes over the sensors! Thanks!

    Tay still gets diapers for bedtime, but stays dry all night. If we get her up right away when she wakes up, she will go on the potty, but if we let her wake up and take her time to get out of the crib, she will use her diaper. And although Tay has no issues going #2 on the potty, she will often use that morning diaper as a #2 time as well. Ack. So, I don’t have any advice. I”ll just keep checking back and see what others say!

  3. My cousin puts her daughter in sleeper PJs and puts them on backwards so her daughter can’t get out of the PJs and take her diaper off.

  4. Thank you! I love the post it note tip!!!!

  5. I wanted to give a quick different take on step #4 on what I did, which won’t work for everyone, but it worked for us. First off we did a week long potty training session, going straight to undies and letting accidents happen and at the end of 5 days we were accident free. We braved town in undies that same weekend and had no accidents and actually haven’t had any accidents yet in that regards. We just make sure that my daughter goes before we head into town, which she usually will go if set on the toilet. It’s a 30-45 minute drive into the larger town where we shop at. Then at the start I’d take her into the store bathroom and let her go, and after about 2 trips into town she would just say when she needed to go, so we usually only have to stop in 1 bathroom during our shopping trip and then I take her to the bathroom before we leave town as well. I never limited water before or during the car trip, but that might be a good thing to do if your child can’t hold their bladder for very long, my daughter will usually go 2-4 hours between potty breaks and that is with drinking a lot of water, she just has a big bladder like her father. The post-it note idea is good if the self-flushing toilets scare your kid, my daughter happens to love those toilets, which I think helped with the going to the bathroom in public. Also I think at the start it is good to take them to public bathrooms in places that aren’t super crowded so they can get used to it. A thrift store I often go to when I’m in town has super clean and nice bathrooms that aren’t super busy, so that is where we often stop at for our potty break. We try to avoid the walmart bathroom if at all possible because its usually always dirty, no paper towels, and full of noisy people. I also carry an extra pair of her undies and a pair of pants in my purse when we are out shopping in case an accident does occur, and also have a couple extra pairs in the car in case of several accidents. For longer car trips that are 2+ hours I usually put my daughter in the gerber training pants, the cloth ones that are just a bit thicker than undies, in case an accident might happen, it at least would soak up a bit more liquid. Also some kids have trouble pooping in public restrooms, so if you notice that is an issue, you may want to plan your trips around their pooping schedule if possible.

  6. We haven’t mastered Step #5 yet, but plan to soon. I don’t limit liquids before bed, which I know many people do, but my daughter doesn’t pee during the night, its always right when she wakes up and she is dry 90% of the time in the morning, the only time she pees in the diaper is when she wakes up earlier than normal and sits in bed and looks at her books and I don’t hear that she is up, then she will go in the diaper. I use cloth diapers at night and don’t have any problem with her removing them during the night and when she does pee, she pees a lot, and I don’t have any leaking problems, but I use BG 4.0s at night and have them stuffed with a large receiving blanket with a small microfiber towel stuck in the middle of the receiving blanket, so it makes it super absorbent. I don’t remember what style AIO diaper you use, but you may try putting a doubler in it to make it more absorbent. I know many people swear by bamboo doublers, but if you don’t want to spend the money on it, you could just buy a pack of microfiber rags and wrap them in a piece of old T-shirt or other fabric to keep the microfiber against the skin and then stick it in the diaper. Wool covers are also supposed to be amazing at keeping moisture in, people just put them over a diaper, but they are more expensive, but could be used with your boy too as he gets older at night. Like someone else said you can put the one-piece pajamas on backwards, my cousin tried that with her daughter when she was having that problem, but her daughter wouldn’t tolerate that at all, but may be worth a shot. Or maybe switch pajama styles, if you are going with a nightgown style, maybe switch to a one-piece style, or fleece pants with a T-shirt, the fleece would help keep the sheets a bit dryer. For peeing during the night you can wake her up during the night once or twice a night to see if she needs to go, since you will be up at times anyways with the baby. I’ve had cousins do that and have great success and others it just caused the kid to become super cranky and not sleeping well. Another cousin of mine just put a small potty in her son’s room and that worked well for her. Good luck!

  7. We were using over top my son’s (now 27 months) underwear, using them as back up, not on their own, I have read how they actually delay potty training, for out and about. He almost always stayed dry so now in the car I just put down one of those cheap thin changing pads that are cotton on one side and plastic on the other to protect the car seat just in case because the idea of dealing with a pee soaked car seat overwhelms me.
    He is still in a diaper at nap time (almost always dry) and bedtime (always totally soaked) so no advice there, but a woman at work told me a urologist told her the average age of being fully night trained is 6. Not sure if that applies to both boys and girls, but it made feel like I didn’t need to push the issue yet. We are planning to transition from the crib in the next few weeks and will see how that goes first.

  8. As for your step 4, we’re there with Lyla. She just started getting confused/frustrated about being in panties and home and putting a diaper on to leave. So I gave in and just said “screw it. No more diapers awake.” With Gracie, we had a four-day vacation planned, so she would’ve been away from home not for like half an hour at a time in a diaper, but four straight days! I was sure that’d cause problems, so we just went for it then, too. It was pretty annoying running her to the bathroom 487 times in the airport and on the plane, but whatever, it worked 🙂 As for Step 5 with Gracie (again, we haven’t tried with Lyla), I was scared of even trying. So after like 4 or 5 months of her never waking up with a wet diaper, we just got rid of them one day and didn’t really say anything about it, other than “no more pull-ups , even at night!” She did great. We did have long-standing issues with her using potty as an excuse to get out of bed at bedtime though. That was before we even switched to panties at bed though. At first, she’d stand in her crib and yell “Potty!” until we came to get her and let her go/try, seriously like dozens of times a night, right at bedtime. Then, after we switched to the toddler bed bc she climbed out 12 times each night for three nights after doing it for the first time, she’d just get out of bed and tell us she was going potty dozens of times every single night at bedtime. So even though we never (thank God) had to deal with her soaking the bed or taking off her diaper, we just had different issues to desk with :/ I’d try taking her when you go to bed and see how she handles the middle of the night brief wakeup for your situation.

    1. Oh yeah, and for ages, we did step 4 with Lyla about a month and a half ago, so 19 months, and I, not even thinking about a Step 5 for a while. Gracie daytime potty trained at 23 months, switched to a toddler bed at 27 months, and nighttime potty trained about 2 or 3 months after that. Like I said though, she had been dry for months before that. We just didn’t make the switch on our end.

  9. My kids are quite a bit older than yours (9 and 7), but I just wanted to share my experience. I love your blog, but haven’t commented before (I don’t think…maybe I have, I know I have thought about it several times 🙂 ). My oldest (son) wasn’t night trained until he was around 8. It didn’t matter what we did, he wasn’t ready. I tried limiting liquids, waking before we went to bed etc. We used overnight pull ups for the extra absorbency as he would wake up really wet every day. My daughter on the other hand, once she was potty trained, pretty much woke up dry every day. I kept her in pull ups for almost a year before I finally gave up buying them. I didn’t do anything different with either of them, but they were “ready” at much different times. My son had to wear pull ups for over 2 years after his little sister didn’t need them. For him, once he started waking up to go pee, it was a very quick transition, almost like a light bulb going on. I wouldn’t push (i.e. “train”) them at night. If their little bodies aren’t ready, no matter what you do it won’t help getting them to stop peeing while they are asleep. Not sure what to do about her taking her diaper off, as neither of mine ever did that. You have such great parenting tips by the way! One thing is for sure….even when they are night trained don’t remove the waterproof mattress cover….both of my kids have had random accidents in the night. I am using those suckers until they leave home 😉

  10. The sticky note comment is so helpful–I’ll definitely try that!

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