Nighttime wetting can be a very frustrating thing for parents to deal with, not to mention the extreme shame and embarrassment that it can cause the child. I remember the sheer panic that would ensue each time an invitation for a sleepover would pass our way. The endless loads of laundry that would keep our washing machine busy each day still haunt me. I feel the isolation my child would feel, knowing that not everyone his age was still wetting the bed. But, the most important thing to remember is that this, like so many frustrating moments in childhood, is most likely just a phase. Many parents worry that chronic bed wetting may be a medical issue, and this should be ruled out by a physician, but the likelihood is that it is simply developmental and WILL go away with time.
So how do you survive this phase? Well, it may be easier than you think! There are some very easy strategies to help take the grief out of bed wetting.
1. Don’t Make It A Big Deal
Never, EVER, scold or punish a child for nighttime wetting. This will not work to solve the problem, and it may even make things worse by creating undo stress. I am not even an advocate for sticker charts or any other system that brings a lot of attention to the wetting even if it is meant to be positive. Believe me, your child is well aware of the problem and wants it to go away just as badly as you do. So, the next time your child wets, do your best to remain calm and help your child clean up discretely. We had a plastic lined laundry basket that my child could put his dirty clothes and bedding into without saying a word to anyone. I would check this on a daily basis, and quietly put them in the washer.
We also made sure he knew this was normal, and that millions of kids deal with this issue everyday. His stress level regarding this issue dropped incredibly, and he was so much more receptive to trying things that would help. It became something that we could talk about without feeling so stressed, and this really helped our son’s self-esteem.
2. Pick Up The Tools To Keep Life Stress Free
Since your child is not aware they are wetting the bed until it is too late, this phase may stick around for quite a while. Rather than deal with wet laundry on a daily basis, put some simple tools into place to make life much easier for everyone.
The first is a good quality zipper mattress protector made out of a thick plastic. Yes ,the bedding may still get wet, but the mattress will be protected.
The second is a special laundry basket that is reserved for the wet bedding and clothes. This allows the child to communicate the need for laundering in a more private manner. No child needs to admit they wet the bed in front of their siblings, right?
The third is a good pull-up that will fit your child like underwear under their pajamas. I know there are parents out there who dislike the idea of commercial diapers and pull-ups for various reasons, but in this case, cloth is not as discrete for the child. Pull-ups can be a lifesaver at sleepovers. They make them to resemble underwear, and can be put on and disposed of without assistance in a closed bathroom, so their friends never need to know.
3. Make A Drinking Time Curfew And Stick To IT
I know how it is. Your child needs thirty-seven drinks of water before they can FINALLY go to sleep! Your tired and you need sleep, right? So what’s the harm in a quick drink before bed? For most kids, its not harmful at all, but for a chronic bed wetter, it is setting them up for failure. In fact, if your child is allowed to drink any liquids within 2 hours of bedtime, you are setting them up to fail.
The bladder usually empties every two hours. This means that if your child’s bedtime is 8 pm, they should not be allowed any liquids past 6 pm. This includes water for brushing teeth, so either it needs to be a swish and spit, or teeth should be brushed before the drinking time curfew. And yes, you will be the bad guy, so stay strong. The facts remain that the less full the bladder is before bed, the less likely the bed will be wet in the morning.
4. Two Trips To The Bathroom Right Before Bed
We need to make certain that the bladder is completely empty before sending your child to bed. The first step is to cut your child’s fluids at least two hours before bed, the next step is to make sure your child visits the bathroom twice before bed. The first trip should be around a half hour prior to bedtime, and the second should be five minutes before. This will help your child stay dry even if urinary system hasn’t fully matured.
5. Wake The Child Halfway Through Sleep
Since the child is not aware of the bed wetting until its too late, they may benefit from a middle-of-the-night reminder. If your child is able to wake to an alarm, then they can do this independently, but most night time wetters are also very sound sleepers and won’t be able to wake to an alarm. If this is the case, set the alarm for yourself, and then wake your child. Do not carry your child to the bathroom or stand your sleeping child in front of the toilet.
The goal with nighttime waking is to train your child’s body to wake up when they feel the need to urinate, and if they are allowed to sleep through the process, no learning will occur. If waking in the middle of the night is difficult for you, they do make alarms to wake deep sleepers, which may be an option to allow your child to wake for the bathroom without help. A good loud alarm is the Sonic Boom Alarm Clock. This alarm seriously could wake the dead.
6. Try A Bed Wetting Device
If you have tried all of the other ideas listed above without success, you may want to try a bed wetting device such as, a Potty Pager. These devices fasten to the child’s underwear, and vibrate or sound an alarm at the earliest sign of wetness. This will help your child learn to wake up when he or she needs to go. The pagers are easy to purchase and do not require a prescription from a doctor.
The device will activate with the tiniest amount of wetness, which makes them much more effective than a simple alarm clock. Sometimes it will activate simply if the child is still wet from a bath or if they are hot and sweaty, so you may need to adjust the placement of the device to accommodate this. We have used The Wet Stop 3 with all of our night time wetters with great success, so we can fully recommend this product.
7. Be Patient
Since bed wetting is usually a developmental issue, it may not go away quickly. Be patient. It is not unusual for children to still be wetting the bed even late into elementary school. It is also not unusual for much older kids, even high school students to have occasional accidents. Use the ideas listed above to help get through this stage with as little grief as possible.
If you have a tip that has worked in your house, please put it in the comments below!