While the majority of children are diaper-free by age 3, 20 percent of all children have continued issues with night time bed wetting by the age of 5. Night time bed wetting in children over the age of 3 is usually a result of lack of bladder control, a small bladder, or an internal need-to-pee signal that is too weak to wake up the child. This makes bed wetting a common and perfectly normal issue in younger children, even though it can be frustrating for parents. However, like most frustrating yet common bedtime problems, bed-wetting frequency and hassle can be reduced with a simple routine.
The following bedtime routine checklist provides an example of how to start the night to increase the chances of having a dry and hassle-free morning.
Try to avoid fluids later in the day. Many bedtime routines for 3- to 5-years-olds begin with a calm-down period, where the child watches a movie, has a story read to them, and they bathe. All of the above make an excellent precursor to sleep. Parents of children with bed-wetting issues simply need to follow this routine without allowing their child to drink a lot of water or juice.
Prepare for the worst. While your child is brushing his/her teeth and preparing for bed time, it’s a good idea to prepare the bed. While bed wetting is not your child’s fault, a simple plastic mattress cover below his or her sheets and an extra set of sheets and pajamas for nighttime accidents can make things run far smoother. Work out an accident plan with your child so he or she knows what to do if a bed wetting accident occurs. Older children may even be able to do so themselves without waking you. This can reduce guilt, as they don’t have to wake everyone up and make a big deal out of their accident.
Make the toilet the last stop. The final stop in a bedtime routine for a bed wetter is the toilet. A potty break should occur immediately before climbing into bed. You may also consider a night time pull-up which can be donned after this final bedtime potty trip.
Inform and reward. Outside of augmenting your bedtime routine, it’s also a good idea to talk with your child about bed wetting. Be sure your child understands that bed wetting is common and is not his or her fault. Offer rewards for dry nights and avoid punishing not-so-dry nights.
With the proper preparation and routine, bed wetting can be reduced, and when it does occur, it can be less of a hassle and less of a mess for both parent and child. If you have continued problems you may consider a potty alarm for bed time. Don’t become discouraged by your child’s bed wetting. Remember — this too will pass.