The day my daughter was officially potty trained ranks right up in my top 10 mom moments ever. Maybe even the top five. Not much can take you down from the high of knowing you'll never have to change a dirty diaper again. Well, except maybe bedwetting.
I don't mean the kids who are still peeing in their jammies at night because you rushed them into undies when they really aren't fully potty trained. I mean having a big kid who knows how to use the potty and do it on the regular who is waking up soaking wet morning after morning.
That'd put a damper on that potty training completion celebration, wouldn't it (pun very much intended)? And some 15 percent of kids have the problem well beyond age 3, which is about when most kids are potty trained.
The truth is, it's not unheard of for a 6-year-old to be peeing in the middle of the night without waking up to use the bathroom. Yup, a 6-year-old! In fact, as much as 13 percent of kids that age are still waking up to wet sheets. By age 10, some 5 percent of kids still need a liner on the mattress.
So what's a parent to do? First off, check for any kind of emotional disturbances. A kid who is upset about something as simple as moving to a new house or getting a new sibling can turn into a bedwetter. A talk with their pediatrician is definitely in order to rule this out as well as any underlying health issues.
No serious health or emotional issues? That's good news. No really. It may be frustrating that there is no clear "cause" for the wet sheets, but the truth is most kids who are bedwetters are pretty OK emotionally and in fine health. It's just as likely that they're a deep sleeper who isn't awakened by the sensation of having to use the bathroom.
So what's a parent to do to cut down on all that extra laundry? We asked some parents of bedwetters for their tricks:
1. Cut out liquids close to bedtime. I know parents who let their kids take a glass to water to bed, and then they wonder why their son pees in the middle of the night?
2. Wake the child to use the bathroom. If you have a child who sleeps from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., is it any wonder their young bladder can't handle it? Try waking them before you go to bed to use the bathroom one last time. A mom who has done this successfully says the key is to keep lights to a minimum. Her son wakes up but isn't shocked into full waking by all the light -- so he gets back to sleep easily (and remains dry).
3. Make bathroom access a priority. A friend found out her son wasn't sleeping through the need to pee -- he would wake up, but then he was afraid to go to the toilet in the dark. She set up night lights in the hallway and in the bathroom, and voila ... dry nights!
4. Reward them. A sticker chart helping them work up to a big prize can be a major motivator, but don't just use it for dry nights. One mom says she started doing this to reward her daughter for remembering to stop drinks after dinner or for remembering to go to the bathroom before bed. Having a kid who is motivated to do that can make all the difference.
5. Make the bed with two sets of sheets -- and a mattress protector in between. One mom who was tired of re-making her son's bed every night shared this genius tip. She would make the bed with a mattress protector and clean fitted sheet. THEN she would place a mattress protector over it, then add ANOTHER clean fitted sheet. If her son peed in the night, all she had to do was throw him a new pair of jammies and pull off the one set of sheets and the protector. It didn't stop his bedwetting, but everyone got a lot more sleep in their house.
Whatever you do, make sure you don't yell at your child or punish them for bedwetting. This is likely not something they can control ... and no amount of "discipline" or screaming will change it.
What are your best tips for dealing with a bedwetter?
Image via Patrick Lane Photography/Corbis