If your toddler waits until right before bedtime – or right after – to poop, then this post will help you not turn it into a power battle.
“Do your duty at home.”
A lymphatic massage therapist in my small town told me this a while ago. She said to create routines around the potty that we can maintain at home. When we wake up, before bed, etc. NOT at 10 a.m. if we have a job at the office.
We are so focused on diapers and potty training and all the rest when our little ones are super small, that when they achieve some potty independence we want to celebrate 🎉.
And then… you have a child who lies down in bed, kisses you good night, joins you in prayer, gives you a snuggle then, as you are walking to the door, says…
“WAIT, MOM, I need to go potty!”
And this is all well and good until this starts happening every night. You take them to the potty and… well… it seems like they sorta have to go but maybe not.
They enjoy a nice prolonged period with you urging them to potty and then after a while, they’ll go to bed. It feels mysteriously like some bedtime stalling tactics but you aren’t quite sure.
Plus, obviously, you want your little one to go when they have to go so. What to do?
Is pooping at bed a power move?
Well… it depends.
Of course, needing to use the bathroom is not a power move it’s a bodily function. And if your child has to go, they have to go.
What can turn into a power move, however, is your child creating their own routine and ritual (that you don’t approve of) around going to the potty which turns into a big time of togetherness and bedtime stalling.
And saying they need to potty when they don’t, just to avoid going to bed.
The truth is…
- We all end up using the bathroom at regular predictable times during the day – which is good
- Often the calm and peacefulness of the bedtime routine itself relaxes your child’s body so that going to the bathroom is a natural occurrence
- Not allowing your child to go to the bathroom is definitely not a good idea
AND SO, all that being said, let’s dive into how you can help keep your little one regular without extending the bedtime routine 30 minutes every night reading books on the toilet.
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Build #2 time into the routine
If your little one, without fail, asks to go to the bathroom right in the middle of the bedtime routine or right after you’ve put them to bed, simply make it a part of the routine.
Start your bedtime routine 20 or 30 minutes earlier – if possible – so your little one still gets to bed at the same time. And so it doesn’t keep pushing bedtime back interfering with your own evening routines.
If the bedtime routine typically started around 6:45 for a 7 pm bedtime, and at 7:05 pm every evening you get a call for the potty… start the routine at 6:20 or 6:30.
Then, when it’s all said or done, you’ll still have your little one in bed by 7 pm ish.
Put it in the middle or beginning of the routine
And, tagging onto the earlier section, add the bathroom into the middle of the routine.
Don’t even put on the pajamas until it’s done, if you can help it.
- Have your child sit on the potty while you get their room ready, black out blinds down, white noise on, etc.
- If you are reallllyy annoyed by the potty delays, you can even do the book reading while your little one is on the potty. This may help them relax and go before you get into the lying down portion.
These lovely cards and checklists will help you create and keep healthy wind down and sleep routines for your little ones.Learn More
Don’t make it super special and fun
If your little one will sit on the potty willingly and go, or read books and go, GREAT!
Then, if they tend to wait until right before the kiss and then want to sit on the potty for 15 minutes with you, this is where you don’t reinforce the very thing you are trying to avoid.
Sometimes little ones see this as an opportunity for connection and bonding with their parent. If you have the space for that, excellent, but if not, then create these connection points throughout the day. NOT on the potty.
Continuing to read, sing, play, and sit with your little one for 25 minutes on the toilet at bedtime will simply create a dynamic where they are using a bodily function to gain time with you.
Give the connection time freely, during the day or before bed, not in the bathroom on the floor begging them to poop.
This free guide gives you the main 4 reasons little ones won’t settle at bedtime (or stall, keep coming out, cause power struggles, etc.) and what to do!
If your little one is constantly getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, or coming to get you, employ the silent return.
Take their hand, don’t lose your cool, say not a word unless necessary, and simply walk them back to their bed. You may do this 100 times the first night, 75 the second, 50 the third, and then eventually they will simply stay in bed.
Or only get up when truly necessary!
This will help you remove the question of “do they really need to go to the potty or are they stalling?” from your mind.
Let’s break this down.
- Pooping at set times is normal and healthy
- Start bedtime earlier to accommodate pooping
- If your child is pretending to need to go, but never does, simply give the option to poop before bedtime, but not after
- Put potty time at the beginning or middle of the wind down bedtime routine, before pajamas if possible
- Don’t reinforce long periods on the potty at bed by making it a connection time. Connect other times throughout the day and leave your child to poop, without an ipad.
Start brainstorming rules to make your family life more peaceful, connected, and strong!
This is us right now, to a tee! My son is 4, and does this almost every night… but he also does go almost every night, so I’ve let it continue rather than disrupt that.
Rachel Norman says
Yes, this is simply a routine not a “stalling” method :)
Great tips! But curious if you have any other ideas for us… after our two year old sits on the potty as part of the bedtime routine and then uses one extra “potty pass” when she says she needs to poop after bedtime… she doesn’t go, and instead poops as soon as she’s back in her diaper in her crib! The whole routine has gotten so unbelievably long. Any ideas? Thanks!
Rachel Norman says
This is honestly a nightmare for moms, ha. So you could also start bedtime earlier to account for her pooping in her diaper, then changing her, and then it being around when you want her to go to sleep instead of it being an hour late now!
My 3 year old will scream, hit, kick, pee on the floor (even though he uses the potty perfectly fine any other time of the day), and last night for the first time since potty training pooped in the bed. He’s really tormenting my partner with this behavior, as he won’t try my patience as much; however, I don’t know how to help my partner through this. Our 3 year old, gets pretty defiant after a nice bed time story. After we say goodnight and then walk out, 5 min later the bedtime battle begins, he has morphed into a completely different baby. We do a very similar bedtime routine and this behavior has been going on for at least 5 weeks. Any advice?