After months of cajoling, sticker charts, and sprints to the bathroom, my daughter Olivia was finally out of diapers during the day at around age 4. It was no small feat—as every parent knows—so there were high-fives all around. She had occasional accidents at night, but for the most part we were thrilled with her progress.
By the time Olivia was 6, we were still changing her wet bed a few nights a week, and wondering what kind of potty training tricks we could use for nighttime accidents. The whole family was sleep-deprived, Olivia was confused and self-conscious, and I was going broke buying laundry detergent. I decided to find out more. What surprised me most was that in most cases, bedwetting in older children has nothing to do with potty training at all.
It turns out that bedwetting is very common in kids 4 and older—and it’s causing both parents and kids a lot of anxiety. So if your child is going through this, take a breath, step back, know that you are not alone, and that there are many ways to handle it with confidence.
First, Know the Facts
An estimated five million children in the U.S. wet the bed.* It’s normal for many kids at age 4 to have nighttime accidents, but it’s also normal—for some children—at 11 or 12.** Also, keep in mind that bedwetting is not the same as nighttime potty training. “Bedwetting is something that your child might do, and there is no ‘training’ to make it go away, says Dr. Wolffe, Pediatrician and GoodNites® NightLite™ Panelist. You just need to be patient and wait it out.
Why Is this Happening?
Bedwetting happens as a result of underdeveloped complex body signals that occur when your child is asleep. There is no way your child can control these biological signals. Most often, bedwetting occurs in children ages 4 and up because the bladder is not fully developed and the nerves that control the bladder and brain connection are still maturing and forming connections. Because kids develop at their own pace, there is no set schedule for when kids will stop wetting the bed. There can also be a genetic factor: If both parents wet the bed as children, their child has an 80% chance of wetting the bed too, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Is this a Medical Problem?
Yes – but usually not one to get too worried about. “Bedwetting” is another name for the medical condition Nocturnal Enuresis, and it usually resolves itself on its own. For reassurance, you may want to pay a visit to the doctor. A sensitive pediatrician will know how to explain bedwetting in terms your child can understand, and you can talk to the doctor privately about any possible medical concerns.
Now that you know the top-line facts about bedwetting, you can relax a little and do your best to reassure your child. Don’t make a big deal about nighttime accidents or treat them like failures. Assure your child that it’s normal, and that many kids are going through the exact same thing at their homes. Most importantly, let your child know that this is just a phase, and that you will get through it together.
Good Nights Again
Once we had the facts, positive reinforcement and GoodNites® Bed Mats, a 2013 Product of the Year, helped our family successfully deal with bedwetting. We simply adhered the ultra-absorbent mats on top of Olivia’s fitted sheet to keep wetness away from her, the bedding, and the mattress. And because they are disposable, I was able to say goodbye to all those exhausting nighttime and morning cleanups. We even gave Olivia a sense of control by showing her how to “Peel, Place, and Protect” her own GoodNites® Bed Mats. Before long, Olivia’s confidence was up and she grew out of the bedwetting phase.
*Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg, Pediatrician and GoodNites® NiteLite Panelist
** Dr. Wolffe, Pediatrician and GoodNites® NiteLite Panelist