You’ve put the plastic potty away and retired the reward chart in the bathroom for good: Your kid is officially potty-trained! Right? Not quite.
While some kids never wet the bed again, many children will continue to have nighttime accidents long after they can successfully handle their business (and bladder) during the day. In fact, 1 in 6 children still wet the bed at age 5, and 1 in 15 still deal with bedwetting after 8 years old. It’s also not unusual — up to 1 in 3 — for children to go through a bedwetting phase a few years after they were initially potty trained.
For the vast majority of children, wetting the bed is something they just eventually grow out of. As a parent, that can sometimes be tough to hear, especially when you’re desperate to “do” something to fix this for them (and, let’s be honest, get an uninterrupted night of sleep for yourself.) Still! There are ways you can make this phase easier on all of you, which is why we’ve rounded up the best strategies for tackling bedwetting with your child — with a minimum of stress.
#1 Call in the reinforcements
It’s a Catch-22: A diaper would be the most effective way to make sure your child sleeps through the night (and gets that much needed rest essential for healthy development and good mornings) — but the last thing your bigger kid wants to wear is a diaper. That’s why a new product like Ninjamas is such a clever solution: Designed to fit like underwear — and be breathable like cotton pants— they are highly absorbent and have one-of-a-kind OdorMask technology to keep things feeling dry and smelling fresh while providing all night leak protection. They’re also made from a material that reduces that tell-tale “diaper-y” rustle — key for a stealth appearance at a sleepover, for example. The fun, empowering Ninjas on the packaging could be a great way to get your kid to think of their Ninjamas like their “sidekick,” a powerful ally providing all-night protection that helps them wake up feeling nothing short of awesome.
#2 Keep a diary
There are all kinds of myths floating around about things that can trigger bedwetting — from spicy foods (busted) and orange juice (also busted.) Still, it is believed that other factors — like anxiety, for instance, or even certain allergies or intolerances — can have some effect on bedwetting behaviour, which is why it can be helpful to track when incidents happen. You may start noticing a pattern — maybe your child wets the bed more often when something stressful is happening in their lives. Or even identify certain behaviours — like bedwetting happening on nights when they have a soda during the day — that you can tweak in your family’s routine.
#3 Limit their liquids before bed
While it’s important to remember that wetting the bed isn’t necessarily about bladder fullness — if it was, your kid would wake up when they needed to go — but it can be helpful to set them up for success by limiting how much they’re drinking before bed. And think beyond water or juice: Soups, salads and yoghurts are all packed with H20.
#4 Wake them up before they go (go)
While waking up your sleeping child won’t be as much fun as the George Michael song, it can be a great strategy to pre-empt bedwetting later that night. Incorporate it into your own routine–maybe just before you head to bed yourself, or just before you watch the 11 o’clock news, for example–but be consistent in gently rousing them a few hours after they’ve fallen asleep, and taking them to the washroom (even if you have to carry them!) It’s important that your child is actually awake when this happens, since a) it means they’ll fully empty their bladder, and b) begin to make a connection between this behaviour and not wetting the bed. That said, it’s always a smart move to have a back-up, like the Ninjamas for instance, to make sure you’ve got all night leak protection from accidents that might happen.
#5 Chat with your doctor
“Bed wetting is common and stressful for all involved,” assures Dr Stephanie Liu, a family physician, parenting blogger and Pampers expert. “Fortunately, most of the time it will spontaneously resolve.” That said, Dr Liu wants to encourage any parent that is concerned about their child’s bedwetting to speak with their child’s doctor. While not common, there are certain medical conditions — from severe constipation to sleep apnea — that are tied to bedwetting in older children.
Want to learn more about how you can help your child wake up feeling awesome? Check out the new Ninjamas absorbable nighttime underwear here.
Stay in touch
Subscribe to Today's Parent's daily newsletter for our best parenting news, tips, essays and recipes.