If the top question on your mind is how to stop bedwetting, then read on for expert advice on how to help your little one stays dry through the night
There are few things in a parent’s life as joyous as nailing potty training! But what if, despite your best efforts, your little one doesn’t stay dry at night? “Most children develop night-time dryness between two and five years old. But exactly when is down to several factors,” says Alina Lynden from ERIC, The Children’s Bowel and Bladder Charity. “Some are producing too much wee at night; others wet because their bladder capacity is still too small. Some sleep so deeply that the developing bladder nerves are not strong enough to tell the brain to wake up.” But while bedwetting in children can be a bit of a nightmare for everyone involved, note none of these things are your child’s fault!
It can be especially upsetting for your child if they see it’s stressing you out too. Try to keep calm. Most children outgrow it on their own, but some need a little help – and that’s just fine too. So, without further ado, here’s our expert guide on how to stop bedwetting.
Establish a drinking and weeing routine
This is a biggie. “The bladder is a muscle and should be filled and emptied regularly to strengthen it,” says Alina. “That means six to eight drinks (avoid sugary and fizzy drinks) spread out over the day, stopping around an hour and a half before bed. Your child needs to try for a wee around every two hours, whether at home or school, with the last wee right before bed.” (Get boys to sit to wee as it’s better for emptying the bladder.)
Keep a bedwetting diary
You ditched the night-time nappies as they were dry in the morning; but then out of nowhere the bedwetting starts – help! “Relapses occur as your child is learning,” says Alina. “Keep a diary and if wetting starts you can see what’s been going on.” It’s OK to put your child back in nappies and try again when they seem dry in the morning.
Ditch the "dream wee"
Many parents lift their sleeping child for a late-night wee, usually before they go to bed themselves. “Generally, I’d advise against this as it’s not teaching the bladder to rest at night – you’re interrupting the cycle,” says Alina. “You’re getting a dry bed, yes, but not a dry child. It may be helpful temporarily when your child first stops wearing nappies, but I wouldn’t make a habit of it.”
No screen time before bed
Yep, that old chestnut. “Blue light interferes with the release of sleep hormones,” says Alina. “A ‘healthy’ sleep cycle is disturbed as your child may take longer to fall asleep – if you’re sleep-deprived, you eventually fall into a deeper sleep and may not be woken by a full bladder.” So, ditch all screens at least an hour before bed.
Make clean-up easy
Prep smart, so there’s minimum stress if you need to sort a wet bed in the middle of the night. Buy a waterproof mattress or mattress protector; keep a change of sheets and pajamas handy, plus a towel and some wipes. If you’re staying away from home – or your child is staying with their grandparents, for example – make sure you’re prepared and are sticking to the same routine.
Use a bedwetting reward chart
Who doesn’t love a “Great Job!” sticker? ‘But don’t reward the dry nights themselves as they are largely out of your child’s control. Instead, reward the things they do to work towards the dry nights – like drinking their eight cups of water or reducing screen-time,” says Alina.
Check for constipation
If your child is reliably dry in the day, but wet at night, it could be constipation. “A full bowel will press on the bladder, causing it to empty,” says Alina. And it’s quite common, she adds. So, if your child is struggling to poo or they’re producing pellets, see your GP.