You’ve done all the hard work of potty training your child with success! Yes, sweet relief! You no longer have to live in fear while waiting in the grocery checkout line. That was my always my newly potty-trained child’s sweet spot for asking to use the bathroom at the last minute.
They are now asking to use the bathroom at the right times… most of the time. No issues, no accidents. Until darkness falls and you tuck your sweet little munchkin in their beds at night. And either in the middle of the night or in the morning you hear the call… Mommy!
You rush in to see your frustrated child soaking wet – again. You tell them it’s OK and peel their wet clothes off, strip their bedsheets, and give them a bath. And then repeat this cycle again night, after night, after night.
It’s frustrating, exhausting, and confusing all at the same time. You also feel powerless because all of this is totally outside of your control.
I’ve been there! One of my children (I’m sharing this with her permission) was totally daytime dry by 2 1/2 years old but still wet the bed for more than 7 years after she was potty trained! The older she got, the more frustrated she became.
When Your Child Still Wets the Bed
I’ll be really honest, I didn’t always handle the situation the right way. In fact, I acted pretty stupidly a few times. More on that in a bit. I did that because I was desperate as a mom to find a way to fix this for both of us. And I learned some HUGE lessons along the way that I want to share with you.
I also want to add that my 3-year-old has been potty trained for a year now but is still not night time or naptime dry. I am always very cautious when potty training and try never to start too soon. He is actually the one who initiated it and only took him a few days. He went through an entire year of preschool with maybe 2 accidents the whole year! Except, if he didn’t have a pull-up on during his nap, of course.
I’m not sure if this will continue. Only time will tell. But in children under 6, bed-wetting is still considered the last stage of potty training and is still common. When a child is older, bet wetting treatments with medical professionals should only be explored if your child is really struggling with it. In fact, 5 to 7 million kids over the age of 6 are still wetting the bed at night. (source)
Interestingly, my middle daughter has NEVER had more than a single accident at night since she was 3-years-old. Proving this is simply something we don’t control, but rather work with until it resolves.
3 Things to Do When Your Child is Wetting the Bed
Let me first give you my disclaimer, I’m not a doctor or medical professional and I’m not giving medical advice. I’m just a mom giving her own personal experiences and what worked for me and what didn’t.
I want to share 3 things you must do if your child is still wetting the bed and can’t seem to stay dry through the night. This advice is deeply personal to me and I hope to offer you some encouragement. Long-term bed wetting is often hard on the child but can be very hard on parents too.
My hope is this advice will give you comfort, support, and practical steps to make this season easier for you and your child! And remember, they will grow out of it unless there is an underlying medical problem causing these systems. In that case, always trust your mom instincts and ask for tests from your child’s doctor if you think they are needed.
1 – Stay Calm and Get Supplies
This first step may seem a bit obvious but it wasn’t for me so I’m sharing it with you. When my daughter was first potty trained I threw away the pull-ups and diapers and had a little mom celebration. She stayed dry a few nights, and then woke up wet a few others.
This cycle continued, and as a first-time parent, I just thought this was normal. I was given so much advice it was coming out of my ears. The most consistent advice I received was to let her feel wet so she’ll wake up and go to the bathroom. In other words, don’t put a diaper or training pants on her at night.
Well, I tested that theory on my sleeps-like-a-rock-in-a-coma child and she NEVER woke up to the feeling of being wet… until morning. And guess what? It was my time to strip her and the bed down, wash all the pee clothes, dry and redress the bed, and start all over. NOT FUN AT ALL!
Basically, I’m saying that you can test out this method for a little while to see if it helps your child. But if it doesn’t, please give yourself a break and get some supplies to make your mom life a little easier!
The first thing you need to do right now is get a heavy-duty mattress pad to protect your mattress. I didn’t do this initially and ended up needing to buy a whole new mattress! This mattress pad is super absorbent, washable, and is soft and plush instead of those horrible plastic ones. The plastic ones (I tried them first) are loud and uncomfortable, but also tear and break very easily which didn’t save me money in the long run.
Now that you’ve protected the mattress, you need to protect the sheets! This is the best thing I found because it literally saved my sanity because I didn’t need to keep stripping the bed at night. I love them because they actually have an adhesive that adheres to the bed and keeps everything in place. My daughter is a wild sleeper so the reusable ones like this never stayed in place.
The reason I’m recommending the pads verses pullups is that your child will eventually not want to wear anything that resembles a diaper. And that’s fine. Washing a pair of pajamas is much less work than their entire sheet set.
For toddlers like my son, I recommend keeping things simple. I still use these to keep things super simple! If your toddler is constantly leaking through their diapers at night, try these amazing diaper insert pads to place inside their diaper! Very cool and totally disposible.
If you want to try a bed-wetting alarm, this one is the highest recommend alarm on Amazon. I was recommended by my daughter’s pediatrician to purchase one, but by then she was getting much less frequent with wetting so I never did.
2 – Know Bed Wetting is Not Your Child’s Fault
This step is really important and is where I missed the mark as a mom. I started out like any other mom who helps and encourages their kid when they’re struggling with something. But as time went on and frustration really set in, I started feeling like it was time for her to get it together.
I’m embarrassed to say this but I started to actually put the blame on her. I became very strict on her with drinking any liquids before bed because that’s what all the experts said to do. And as much as it pains me to say this, I even punished her a few times when she woke up wet.
This was as she got older and her bed-wetting became more sporadic. I’m only sharing with you my worst moments as a mom because I don’t want you to do the same. Because it’s truly nothing your child can control. And adding ANY negative feeling or action into the process can be damaging and stressful to your child. And stress can actually make the problem even worse!
Bed-wetting is happening when your child is in a deep sleep and the signals between their brain and bodies aren’t working like they should. There may also be other factors involved where their bladder isn’t fully matured to hold their urine through the night.
And all those reasons are totally outside of their control.
3 – Know It’s Not Your Fault
I also want to add that you shouldn’t feel that your child’s bed-wetting is your fault either. As moms, we seem to be as attracted to guilt as lightning is to a metal rod. And we need to stop the cycle of mom-guilt. Whether you let your child grab a drink of water before bed doesn’t mean that’s why they didn’t stay dry that night.
In fact, my middle daughter (the one who never wet the bed) could drink ten glasses of water before bed and it wouldn’t affect her at all!
You’re also not doing anything to stress your kid out that’s causing them to wet the bed. Their new schedule isn’t causing them to wet the bed. You probably don’t need to shuttle them from specialist to specialist ordering test after test. Don’t let the guilt consume you. No matter what your brain is telling you, you’re most likely not the cause at all.
Though you may not be the cause, you are the source of greatest source of support and compassion for your child. And that’s what they need most!
4 – Give Your Child What They Need Most
Support and understanding. We all have things happening in our bodies and minds that we wish would be different. Things that are outside of our control. And what we need in those times is the love, support, and even the understanding from our loved-ones of what we’re going through.
Your child needs the very same thing from you. I finally wised up and I thank God it didn’t take me too long. Though my daughter obviously didn’t love going through this, she didn’t feel bad, shameful, or stressed out about it. She learned that we all go through things and we learn to manage them as we go through them. Eventually, it was a thing of the past!
Causes and Possible Treatment Options
Once you have the proper and supportive mindset, you can then decide if and when you may want to seek treatments. It’s perfectly OK, however, to wait it out and help your child manage their bed-wetting until they outgrow it.
If you do decide to seek out causes and treatments you may want to consider the following possible causes for your child’s bed-wetting and seek these conservative treatments first.
There is a link to bed-wetting and constipation, so you may want to consider making sure your child isn’t secretly battling chronic constipation. All of my children struggled with bouts of constipation and it can easily go unnoticed. Make sure they are drinking PLENTY of water throughout the day (limiting before bed) and eating a diet rich in fiber and low in processed foods and sugar.
There is also a strong link to stress and bed-wetting. Not as an initial cause but as a point of exacerbating their existing bed-wetting. If your child struggles with stress or anxiety, helping them to cope and manage their stress can certainly help your child to stay dry through the night.
Finally, there is an herbal treatment using essential oils that have been known to help children suffering from bed-wetting. I haven’t tried this personally but I’m curious to see if it would help. Essential oils are a staple in my home and they have helped treat many conditions in my family. It’s certainly worth trying. You can read more about that here.
In case you missed it, here’s a list of all the supplies I highly recommend:
I truly hope this post was helpful to you! If you have any other tips to add or have any questions please leave them in the comments below.