Once you get past the trials of potty training, it’s supposed to be smooth sailing in the bathroom department, isn’t it? While most parents hope so and others might think so, that’s generally not the case. Training your child to use the toilet and let you know when they need to go during the day is one thing, but at night when they are fast asleep, it’s a whole different ball game. Your child has to learn to wake up when their bladder is full, and their bladder has to be trained to hold liquid until the child wakes up to use the bathroom.
Beyond just learning that, there is also the fact that many children are afraid to get up by themselves at night and so they wet the bed instead. While there is no wonder treatment for bedwetting, there are ways to deal with it and get through it. Unless you suspect (in which case you should see your doctor) that your child has a medical issue that is causing the bedwetting, then the tips below should help to make things a bit easier during this transitional phase from diaper to toilet.
Set Liquid Limits
You will never be able to help your child stop wetting the bed if they are allowed to drink all they want at night. There needs to be a cutoff time for all liquids; generally an hour before bedtime is best. To make this easier, set a liquids cutoff for the whole house so that your child doesn’t feel left out or treated unfairly. Not only should liquids be limited at night, but during the day as well. Carbonation and caffeine actually increase urine production and should be extremely limited if not cut out altogether.
Be on “Potty Patrol”
Pretty much any parent can tell you that telling your child to use the bathroom and them claiming that they did is completely different from them actually using the bathroom. Observe your child in the bathroom; make sure that their reason for bedwetting isn’t because they are afraid of falling in the toilet or something silly.
When you send them to use the bathroom before bed, tag along to make sure that they really go. You will probably be given the classic, “Mooo-oooom!” along with a look of horror, but go with them anyways; you have to be on the frontlines of the bedwetting brigade.
Observing your children in the bathroom also helps to identify if there are any medical issues. If it appears that urinating is painful for your child, you should contact their doctor. Also pay attention to bowel movements; if your child has gone more than three days with no bowel movements, this could be an underlying cause of their bedwetting.
Also teach your child to go to the bathroom right when he needs to. Don’t have him hold it unless you are in a situation where he has no other choice. This will help get his bladder used to being filled up and emptied repeatedly and it soon becomes second nature.
Ring the Alarm
For some children, just being woken up is enough to break the bedwetting cycle and there are a couple of ways you can go with this. If your child is older and you are trying to establish a habit of independent bathroom use, you might consider an actual bedwetting alarm. This alarm will go off at the slightest hint of moisture. For many children, this wakes them up and they can head to the bathroom to finish their business. Soon they get used to waking up at a certain time and the alarm is no longer necessary.
If you want your child to wake up before the bedwetting happens, you can either wake them up and take them or set an alarm to wake them up and remind them to use the bathroom. This is not often recommended since the child’s sleep could be being interrupted unnecessarily, but it is an option.
Along with trying to prevent the bedwetting, it’s important to prepare for when it does happen. Make sure that your child is kept as dry as possible; nobody wants to wake up soaking wet and shivering. If bedwetting is a serious issue, and especially if your child is very young, you might want to use Pull-Ups at night. Your child should not be encouraged to pee in the Pull-Up, but when she does, she and the bed won’t be all wet.
Also keep a waterproof cover on the mattress and also use a waterproof pad underneath your child. She will still have to change her clothes if she wets the bed, but the wet pad can be swapped for a dry one rather than changing all of the bedding.
Set up a calendar or other chart for your child and provide him with some stickers. Let him mark the days on the chart or calendar that he does not wet the bed. Provide an incentive; maybe ten stickers means he gets a special reward.
Remember that bedwetting is not something that your child has complete control over so he should not be punished for it, nor should he be reminded that his chart is empty. The chart should simply be used as a motivating tool to help him keep trying as well as to celebrate his successes.