Bedtime Routine Checklist for Kids Who Wet the Bed

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.bed wetting bedtime routine

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.

No More Fear of the Dark: Helping Kids Stop Being Afraid

Once your child graduates from baby to toddler you may think your sleep problems are over, but a new nightly woe may be creeping below the bed. Literally, between around 2 and 6 years of age many children suddenly become afraid of the dark. This causes ven the soundest of sleepers and most willing bedtime-going toddlers to become trouble-ridden and scared.

Why is my toddler suddenly afraid of the dark? Is it something I did?

fear of the dark

It could be, but then it could not be. Many toddlers develop a fear of the dark simply as a result of their growing imaginations and memories. They can dream up more than a baby and have more information to feed that fantasy. Other toddlers find their fears in suggestion, such as a cartoon like Monsters Inc., or in innocent stories from adults. Other children become afraid of the dark after seeing scary movies or television shows that aren’t appropriate for their age range. Still others may pick up a fear of darkness from friends or siblings sharing their concerns with not being able to see at night. Why a toddler develops a fear could be from countless reasons. In this case, it’s better not to worry about something that’s already been done, but rather to work to fix it.

What can I do to help my toddler conquer his/her fear of the dark?

You want to offer reassurance and assistance, but avoid being so realistic you feed into the fear. You don’t want to make your toddler think the imaginary reasoning behind their freight is real.

What not to do to try to get rid of a fear of the dark:

-Don’t make light of your child’s fears or act like it’s a baby thing. Teasing your child, even if that’s not your aim, will not help him/her overcome their fear of the dark. Don’t try to rationalize away their created issue.

-Don’t punish night-time waking or difficulty falling asleep due to a fear of the dark. You can’t discipline away fears.

-Don’t cuddle too much. For example, if you spend several hours each night sitting by your child’s bedside until they fall asleep you’re over doing it. You’re giving your toddler a reason to believe their fears are real, because you seemingly feel they are.

What to do to get rid of a fear of the dark:

-Talk with your toddler about the dark, and do more listening than speaking. Let your child express what their concern is and work from there. Avoid telling or assuming as you may actually add new fears to the problem.

-Use what created the problem to fix the problem. Your child’s imagination is a powerful weapon against imaginary foes. Help your toddler find that weapon, whether it be a spray bottle of monster be-gone, an invisible sword, are a magic word of vanquishing. Find something that will make your toddler feel more powerful than his or her fear, and then let them defeat that fear. Make sure your toddler knows you will be there if needed, but don’t be your child’s protector.

-Consider a night light. Often a harmless dim light can solve a fear of the dark with the flick of a switch as most children outgrow this fear in time.

-Set an example. You can also read stories or watch cartoons featuring characters who are afraid but face that fear and prosper.

-Give gold stars. Be sure to reward even small steps towards successful defeat of fears.

You may also find helpful:
Nightmares and Night Terrors in Children: What Can You Do?

Toddler Sexuality: Gender realization, Fascination and Playing Doctor

“She has a butt.” These were the very confusing words my toddler randomly said to me, while using the bathroom, shortly after he had been visiting his little cousin for the day. “What?” I said, “Yes, everyone has a butt, honey.” “No”, he said, “she has a butt for a pee-pee.” You can then mentally insert rather hysterical laughter from me. My niece is also potty training, and as a result often ends up butt-naked running around the house. My son, who only has little brothers, noticed that she didn’t look like him “down there,” and that she had what he thought look like a “butt,” apparently.

Is it normal for toddlers to notice one another’s genitals, or even compare them?

toddlers playing doctor gender realizationYep, gender realization is the next step in sexual development beyond self-touching and exploration. Your toddler is just realizing he or she is a girl or boy, and girls and boys are different. While more common in pre-schoolers, it’s not cause for alarm if you catch your toddler looking at, or even touching another child’s private parts who is a regular playmate and around the same age. Your toddler may also show interest in seeing other people naked, want to show other people him/herself naked, or attempt to touch adults (usually female breasts.) Toddlers often become rather fascinated with sexual organs once they discover them. Some kids will talk about them incessantly or even sing about them.

How can you help your toddler understand his/her private parts in a healthy way?

Don’t respond to such play in a negative manner. Simply redirect any children involved to a new activity, and explain those parts are private. While not cause for concern, this type of behavior does mean it may be time to help your toddler learn about the human body. There are many toddler-age children’s books available for this purpose, but just talking about it together usually helps the most. Teaching your child what a penis and vagina are is no different than teaching what an eyeball and nose are. They are parts of the body that your child needs to know about. This is also a good time to explain personal boundaries–to start teaching keeping your hands to yourself.

Your toddler will also likely have interesting questions like why their cousin has a “butt” rather than a “pee-pee.” Don’t avoid questions. Use them as an opportunity for learning. Answer any questions in a direct, simple way. Avoid cute little lies, like the stork brought you, and excessive, unnecessary detail. For instance, in the butt example, you could just say, “Your cousin does have a pee-pee. Little girls have different pee-pees than little boys.” It is OK, and even beneficial, to use actual terms and not nick-names, but this falls under your own comfort level. Once your child has learned what they want to know, and has temporarily satiated their curiosity about sexuality, they’ll move on — for awhile at least.

At what point, if any, should you be concerned?

If your toddler exhibits knowledge of sexual acts beyond their age range, for example attempting to kiss another child’s private parts, or any kind of insertion, this is definitely cause for concern. This could be a sign of sexual abuse or simply that someone is letting your child watch programming they shouldn’t be seeing.

Other things to watch out for:

-You frequently find your child “playing doctor.”
-Other children involved in the play are not close in age or don’t see one another often.
-The play is planned and didn’t just happen. Example: One child intentionally leads another out of adult view to “play doctor.”
-Your child isn’t easily redirected to a new activity.
-Any child involved is upset, sad, or aggressive and threatening.

In any case, ask questions, but again don’t punish. Find out in a non-accusing way what the children felt was going on, in their own words, why they were doing it, and where they learned it. All of the above can offer insight into the problem — if there is one — as well as help solve it if necessary.

You may also find helpful:
When Toddlers Touch Themselves: What to Do About Private Part Touching
The Sex Talk Timeline: When Should You Talk to Your Kids About Sex?