Potty training is not fun. And it’s not easy. Each kid is different in figuring out what works for them, but eventually, you get it done, right? Everyone rejoices, and you throw your kid an undies party, and all is right in the world. But then just when you start giving yourself mad mommy props for successfully getting your toddler completely potty trained, you suddenly run into another maddening potty issue: bedwetting. It’s so frustrating to be woken from a dead sleep by a crying kiddo who just peed all over herself and her bed. You wipe the drool from your mouth, pry your eyes open and spend the next 20 minutes in a zombie state trying to change bed sheets and pajamas. Good times.
I know it’s maddening, but bedwetting just happens. Bedwetting is a common occurrence in young children, typically under 6 years old, although it can last into the teen years. Generally, bedwetting is not a sign that anything is wrong, and it often runs in families (yay, genetics!). Bedwetting is frustrating and embarrassing for the poor kid, and parents can feel irritated and helpless to make it stop. Fortunately, it usually goes away on its own, but there are some things that you as the parent can do to help get your family through the process.
1. Cut off water intake at least an hour before bed.
Have your child drink more throughout the day and less into the evening hours. I created a rule of no sippy cups after dinner (and only a tiny sip of water, if needed, before bed). My kid is a guzzler; if she has her sippy cup with her, she will suck that thing down, so my limiting her access to it at night really seemed to help her a lot.
2. Make your kid go potty right before bed.
My daughter is notorious for saying she doesn’t need to go potty and then five minutes later having the urgent need to run to the restroom. I have made it part of our bedtime routine that she goes to the potty, whether she needs to or not, and tries to make something happen right before getting in bed. More often than not, she needed to pee and just didn’t realize it.
3. Be patient and don’t punish.
The last thing you want to do is make your kid feel more ashamed and guilty by punishing them for something they can’t control. Take a deep breath, tell your kid that accidents happen and you’re not mad, then take care of getting them cleaned up. I know it’s frustrating for you, but it’s embarrassing for your child.
4. Have your child help with clean-up.
While punishment is not a good response to bedwetting, natural consequences are. Remain calm but instruct your child that they will have to help with the clean-up. Tell them exactly what you want them to do and work together to get the bed re-made and new pajamas put on. You may also want to think about using a hack that helped me clean up quickly and easily: I purchased a pack of puppy pads and put a couple under the fitted sheet of my daughter’s bed. Then I layered two more puppy pads on top of the sheet, then added a new fitted sheet. I did this for about 4 layers. When she would have an accident, I would just have to strip off the top fitted sheet and toss the puppy pads. All done!
5. Make sure your kid has easy access to the toilet.
If your kid’s room is a landmine or the path to the bathroom is dark and scary, the likelihood of him making it to the potty when he has to pee is not going to be good. Make sure you clear a path to the toilet and provide adequate light so he can see where he’s going at night.
6. Reward your child for staying dry.
When your child does wake up dry in the morning, offer her lots of praise. Make sure she knows you’re proud of her for going potty in the toilet and waking up with dry undies. If she regresses the next night, don’t make her feel bad. Just continue to carry on calmly and offer a lot of praise again on the next dry morning.
7. Purchase a moisture alarm.
These days there are some pretty neat contraptions out there that you attach to your child at night (you can find them on Amazon). They have moisture sensors that will either cause a vibration or an alarm that will wake the child up to go to the potty when he needs to. I never used one of these, but when I start to potty train my son, I may invest in one of these cool gadgets.
I hope these tips have given you some ideas for how to help your child stop bedwetting. Bedwetting is another right of passage our kids go through that we as parents have little control over. It can be frustrating, tiring, gross, and embarrassing, but it will pass. Try to be patient with your child and understand that he, too, is not happy about being woken up in the middle of the night either, especially for something so embarrassing. The more you assure them that it’s normal and nothing to be worried about, the less the process of getting past it will suck for the both of you. Hang in there, mama!