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As a mom of three boys, I have a horrible time remembering milestones and how we taught them certain life skills. There is a six-year age difference between our youngest son and our middle son and I find myself frequently wondering, “How did we teach our older boys to tie their shoes, or wipe their bottoms…” The latest struggle is night time potty training for our youngest. I don’t remember having this issue with our older boys. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), however, this is happening for 5 million children in the United States over the age of 6, so we’re not alone.
Our youngest is now six years old. He’s been potty trained during the day since he was 3 years old (I think 🙂 ). He’s had successful dry nights, but more than not he’s wet in the morning. This has been frustrating for him and for us as his parents.
Night time potty training
Here’s the thing I’m learning though, night time potty training or bedwetting is not as straightforward as daytime potty training. My child can’t control his accidents at night because it’s an issue with his bladder communicating to his brain that his bladder is full. It will come with time, but until then, rewards and sticker charts aren’t going to be effective like they were for daytime potty training. I just need to be patient and put another load of laundry in the washer.
How to encourage Dry Nights
Here are things I’ve tried and continue to do to encourage dry nights:
- I limit his fluids after dinner.There is debate about whether this is actually helpful. If the child thinks it’s helping then it’s worth continuing. When our son is really thirsty, I’ll give him water because I haven’t seen it make a big difference in his case.
- I stopped using diapers. Our son was having some dry nights so I decided to stop using diapers. I thought that this might help him “feel” the wetness and encourage him to get up and go to the bathroom.
- I have him go to the bathroom right before he goes to bed, usually around 8pm.
- I take him to the bathroom before we go to bed. Before we head to bed, usually around 11pm, we take him to the bathroom. He usually doesn’t fully wake up for this trip.
Asking our Pediatrician for Advice
At his 6-year-old well child visit, I spoke to his pediatrician about our concern, desperate for some “secret tips.” He didn’t have any for me. He actually thought most of the things we were doing probably wouldn’t help, but they certainly didn’t hurt.
He told us about a clinic I could take him to that would most likely prescribe medication. The medication would work to stop the bedwetting, he explained, but once we took him off the medication, bedwetting would most likely occur again. Hmmm, that’s not highly encouraging.
We discussed the bedwetting alarm that some other parents had recommended to me. He thought it wouldn’t hurt to try it, but wasn’t highly enthusiastic. I came away from the appointment frustrated that there were no shortcuts that our pediatrician could share with me.
What we’re doing now to encourage dry nights
We may try the bedwetting alarm. We probably won’t go the medication route. While we wait for our son’s bladder and brain to mature and learn to communicate with one another, we plan to:
- Continue to have him go to the bathroom before his bedtime.
- Continue to have him go to the bathroom before our bedtime.
- Go back to a disposable diaper at night. We’re using GoodNites® Bedtime Pants. I went to our local CVS and headed to the aisle with baby items. It was easy to find at the end of the diaper aisle.
We love the fact that it has 5 layers of protection for boys where they need it most. He loves the fact that it has Marvel superheroes on them!
We’re heading into the summer months and he’ll be sleeping in longer than during the school year. We don’t want to disturb his sleep (or ours!) by waking him up earlier than we need to.
Every morning when I asked him if he was wet or not, I know that he felt slightly disappointed when he was wet. I probably communicated my own disappointment, even when I tried really hard not to.
Wet underwear and pajamas mean extra loads of laundry, that no mom wants or needs. Now that we’re using the disposable GoodNites® Bedtime Pants, the pants might be wet but the sheets aren’t. This simple fact makes for happy parents.
Now, when I put him to bed, we can just cuddle with his stuffed animals and focus on reading his favorite bedtime stories. We can rest easy.
Have you struggled with this issue? Let me know any tips you have in the comments below!
For more information and stories from other parents, click here.
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