Potty Training and Bedwetting

I get many questions from parents of younger children, ages 3 to 5, who are working on potty training, first during the day, then at night. Many families ask what they can do speed up the development of nighttime dryness and insure that their child will not have to deal with bedwetting when they get older.

First, I will say that I do not know of any sure way to prevent or even predict which children will have bedwetting. Since heredity is a factor, there is higher probability that siblings will be affected, especially if one or both parents have a history of bedwetting. Other factors, such as bladder capacity and level of sleep are also areas that parents have little control over. In most cases, children do not have control over their wetting and this behavior is not reflective of your parenting skills. There is no need to feel parental guilt; being kind and supportive is much better. Punishment is not warranted and will not speed up the development of dry nights.

Some techniques that can be useful:

• Suggesting that after dinner beverages be plain water, not juice or milk; not allowing bottles or cups of fluid to be in bed with child
• Double voiding before bed, that means voiding twice, about 20-30 minutes before lights out (once before brushing teeth and getting into pajamas, once after books are read and lights go out)
• Wearing a disposable pull-up if consistently soaked at night
• If dry mornings are being observed, can transition to cloth underwear and a waterproof mattress overlay on top of the sheet to protect mattress
• If child is awake for any reason in night, remind him or her to use the potty
• Walking child to bathroom when parents go to bed probably does not speed up the spontaneous development of dry nights, but does allow one more voiding to be in the toilet
• Use night lights to illuminate the way to the bathroom
• Make sure that your child has regular bowel movements and drinks enough during the day to feel the need to urinate at least every two hours while awake
• If child is over 5 or 6 and still having nighttime accidents, can introduce a bedwetting alarm

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