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My 3 years old boy is often wetting his bed at night, and I'd rather not get back to diapers if possible. One solution I found out is to wake him up and take him to the bathroom just before I get myself to bed.

He sleeps at around 8:30 and I wake him at around 23:00. He is then very sleepy and I wonder if I should let him sleep instead, which results almost always in a wet bed.

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Do not wake him but try something like Wet-Stop which will look to strengthen the mental component needed to wake on their own. In some instances they may not be ready but the alarm will at least look to strengthen that need. –  Aaron McIver May 28 '13 at 4:56
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4 Answers

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Frankly you will be told by any professional that you should not. This is what we were told with our first 3. Over the years what we have learnt is this: limit the consumption of liquids, especially water at 6pm. By 7pm and before bed, he should be taken for a pee - this should be a ritual from now on.

Thus you would have to build a motivational relationship between wet and dry nights. We have found stickers of the object of their attraction to be crucial. Stars, or favourite cartoon characters etc. What ever drives the motivation so that when you stay; "It is time to pee before bed" the answer you want to hear is "Yeah!!"

Also take your time to explain why you are doing all these fun things - be very patient and do not at any point make the process stressful. Do not at any time threaten to take away the rewards for any reason. Neither should you up the stakes :) Keep it fun and naturally they will make it a pattern - usually after 21 days it becomes part of them.

Keep a log book for yourself and study the variables that create a wet or dry experience. Example, it is sometimes possible the child will ask for a cup of water before bed. Make this a half cup and don't panic. Next day remind the child to drink enough before 6pm say around 5:30 or whenever you have during dinner.

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I don't get the "stickers of the object of their attraction" part, but thanks, I'll try less water after 6:00. –  Guillaume May 26 '13 at 14:54
    
With our first son, it was the Mummin characters, he just loved them. With my daughter it was Hello Kitty and My Little Pony sticker collections, with third it was stars and smiley faces. Just today, my now 11 yr old daughter, opened a new folder with about 100 pages of stickers to add to her growing collection. The fun thing lives on :) –  Leslie at Acme Consultancy Ltd May 26 '13 at 17:38
    
Ah, ok. Well, from personal preferences I'll try to not be encouraging my kid collecting things too much, but I can find another kind of reward, eg will do a big Lego airplane with him if he is dry. –  Guillaume May 27 '13 at 3:53
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Only anecdotal, but a counter-argument to those who say that by waking him you are encouraging him to be dependent on you to stay dry - we used to take my son to the toilet in the night until he was about 7 and stopped needing it of his own accord. The hormonal changes required to slow down urine production at night don't kick in very early in some children, more common in boys, and once that has sorted itself out then it's fine.

I do have to say that my son would barely wake up - we'd go in, say "time for the toilet" and usher him there (he'd often have his eyes closed), he'd do his business and we'd usher him back to bed. In the morning he didn't remember it at all. If you're really worried you can even keep a potty or jug in his bedroom and just have him pee in there.

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+1 This is also my experience! at age 3½, my toddler started to "barely wake up" as you describe around 22:00 and we handled it the same way. Of course it's also important that he doesn't drink anything after 17:00 or so - if he's thirsty in the evening then he must learn to drink more during the day instead. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 28 '13 at 9:55
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If your child is often wetting the bed at night, he is likely not ready to be sleeping without a diaper or pull-ups. From PubMed Health (US National Library of Medicine):

Nighttime bladder and bowel control develops somewhat more slowly. So, even once your child is dry during the daytime, it can take a while before they notice in their sleep that they need to go to the toilet. By the age of five years, about 8 out of every 10 children can also control their bladder and bowel at night.

So at first it can still make sense to continue using diapers at night even if a child no longer needs them during the day. If the diapers stay dry for several nights in a row, your child might well also be able to stay dry at night. This is a good time to see what happens without a diaper.

Further information from the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) states that nighttime bedwetting up to the age of five is perfectly normal, and suggests

  • if your child has been day-trained for at least 6 months, give him a 2-day trial to see if he can stay dry at night. If he does not, wait a few months and try again for a couple of nights. Eventually he will spontaneously manage it, when the difficult learning of managing his toileting is ingrained enough that he can do it in his sleep.
  • if your child wakes at night on his own, take him to the toilet as this will help him get used to paying attention to his toileting needs in a sleepy state.

While a reward system may be successful and while it might be nice to be through with the expense and nuisance of diapers, if you allow your child to come to this naturally, you don't have to make this a battle at all. If your child does manage some dry nights in diapers, make positive comments that address the accomplishment without suggestion that to be wet is in any way bad ("You stayed dry last night! It's really hard to learn how to do that!").

Also, note that

  • if your child suffers from constipation it can contribute to bedwetting (NCBI)
  • boys are developmentally slower at this (NCBI)

I remember listening to a radio show about toilet-training once where an anxious parent called in to speak to the expert, and the expert said, "Ma'am, do you know any 17-year-olds who can't manage toileting?" She said No, and he assured her that everybody gets it eventually in their own time - so not to stress!

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Thanks, I am concerned with the effect of waking him at night. I don't mind him wearing night diapers again, but he minds, and I think it is uncomfortable in summer. –  Guillaume May 27 '13 at 3:56
    
You might consider that the discomfort of a wet diaper could help him learn to manage his night wetness, and that his desire to not wear diapers could be used as an incentive to stay dry - he can earn the right to wear big boy pants when he learns to keep his night diaper dry. As it stands, you are managing his night wetness for him. I would concur with Leslie not to wake him because it will make him reliant on you to stay dry. –  Mary Jo Finch May 27 '13 at 17:02
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When our toddler was going through a bedwetting phase, we just started waking her up when we went to bed later, and taking her to the loo. Actually, waking up is too strong a word, as she was normally still half asleep. It stopped her wetting the bed, and a couple of weeks later we stopped waking her up. If the bed wetting started again, we would start waking her up again, but in all honesty, it soon became a thing of the past.

In this instance, I would say ignore the experts!

The other suggestions about limiting drink intake before bed are also good. Basically, this aspect of child-rearing is definately not in the rocket science department.

We did still have a sticker chart, but I'm not sure that it didn't do more harm than good. I remember her being really upset when she accidently wet the bed the night before her four week free chart was full. Poor little mite.

Anyway, the phase didn't last too long, as phases go. And remember you can always buy those special sheets if you are worried about the mattress. I wouldn't advise them in hot countries though.

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