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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!
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Nicole | The Professional Mom Project says
Nighttime bed wetting can be such a challenge. My son is 5 and he’s had a few accidents but for the most part he’s had dry nights. While we don’t struggle with this I have many friends who do. Personally, we do what you are doing – limit fluids right before bed and going to the washroom is part of his routine before bed. Have you tried the water proof mats that you put over the bed sheet? He’ll still get wet but at least there will be fewer sheets to wash. Best of luck you sound like a wonderful, understanding and patient mom 🙂
Thank you so much for your kind words Nicole! I haven’t tried those water proof mats, but I have heard of them. I think I was hoping we wouldn’t need them!
I recommend checking out Stephen Hodges, MD’s book “It’s no Accident” and discussing it with your son’s pediatrician if you think it might apply. (Basic premise is constipation is a root cause but not constipation as you may think of it.)
I haven’t heard of that, thank you so much for the tip. I’ll look it up!
This might be us in a couple years. Our five-year-old is fully potty trained at night, but his almost-four-year-old sister is a different story. We still use a diaper with her and, while I think she’s still new enough to potty training that it isn’t a big concern, I can totally see us in two years saying, “Wait, she’s been potty trained more than two years and she still wears a diaper at night…” I don’t have any tips for you, just commiseration 🙂
Thanks for the commiseration Abby – that is valuable as well, my friend. I appreciate you sharing!
We managed by using an alarm and limiting liquids before bed. We’ve used the alarm for 8 weeks. It was annoying at first and he was not too excited but I explained what the benefits are. He has an open minded and gave it a shot. He eventually got used to it took a while, so be prepared. This site helped a lot http://bedwettingalarm101.com/
Another huge tip: don’t have them drink ANYTHING at least 1 hour prior going to bed. Not even 100ml (which is not a lot). Whenever he was thirsty, I would explain why it’s not a good idea to drink and told him that I’ll let him watch some TV the next day if he won’t drink anything.
I hope it helps.
Sharon Rowe says
I feel your pain, it is something I remember dealing with when my son was little. He eventually grew out of the condition. But I know that those mornings when you wake up and hoping for a dry night and it isn’t it is so difficult to keep the negative or disappointing sound out of my voice. Hang in there it will get better!
Thank you Sharon! He’s so sensitive too and seems like he has a radar for negative emotions. I appreciate your encouragement!
We have tried reward charts and all the tips listed above- my son will be four next week so I think I will have to try these!
Angela @ MOMtessori Life says
Love this! Pinned it! #MMBH
Jeanne Grunert says
Thanks for sharing your post on the party this week! #HomeMattersParty
Thanks for this amazing post. I really like it.