Some of the most common questions that we get here at SchoolMum are about toileting and bedwetting. This is an issue that causes a lot of stress for families and it’s nice when it is behind us …
As you probably know, I have 3 kids and there is a long gap between number 2 and 3 which means that we have worked through this twice and there is 1 to go. Many mums recount to us this can be a difficult stage because it can interrupt sleep for the child and the parents, add to the workload on washing and cleaning and most importantly, it can really cause a lot of stress and a lack of confidence for their kids. This is especially true if the issue persists with bigger kids.
We made a quick video for those who want the basics.
Bedwetting is totally normal and it is nobody’s fault. While most children sleep dry through the night by the time they start school, it is very common to be dealing with it much older. Up to 15% of 5 year olds wet the bed and up to 5% of 10 year olds … this range is common and normal.
There are many reasons for wetting the bed and it is not related to daytime toilet training … what your body does while you are asleep is very different. There can be genetic reasons and the child’s general development, however there are also some medical conditions that can contribute so it’s worth chatting with your doctor if you are concerned.
We found that our children moved through this phase naturally without much intervention from the family. This is the case for most kids as well, though each at their own .
One of our children took a little longer to mover completely through this stage and it did become a little stressful for everyone. From the little one’s perspective, there was a little embarrassment and I think at times they felt guilty … which nobody wants of course. As parents, we were quite worried and not sure how to deal with it or if it was normal. This mostly caused stress whenever opportunities came up to sleep outside the home.
Camps or sleepovers were a bit stressful because even though we knew that the occasional wet bed was completely normal, other people’s reactions are still sometimes not positive. We went to great lengths to try to help them to be careful with their routine and prepared to deal with any bed wetting themselves in those situations.
There were occasions when we decided to make them miss out because it was just too difficult to deal with. Looking back that was a shame and we didn’t have all of the information or tools to deal with it.
Some other things for mum to consider
Our schoolmums have given some simple ideas that they feel have worked for them.
- “Limiting sugary or caffeinated drinks for a few hours before bedtime”– this can help but it’s important to allow water. Being dehydrated can actually make things worse. We even noticed that desserts like jelly or ice cream were particularly bad for this. They often fill the stomach with sugary liquid right before bed but you don’t think of them as drinks.
- “Avoid punishment … even showing that you are frustrated” – stress and confidence are big factors so try not to let the children think that they are ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’. Some kids even worry that they are making extra work for their parents so just tell them that it’s easy and part of your job as parents. I didn’t realise that this was happening with my kids but I probably did let out a little moan of frustration when they woke me up for a wet bed.
- “Toileting before bed” – most parents do this and we certainly did. We even found that taking them to the toilet just before we went to bed worked well. It can help keep the sheets dry but won’t actually improve bladder control. Remember that it will go away in time usually, so it becomes more about managing accidents in the meantime.
We also had a few simple strategies with my kids for when the bed did get wet. Firstly, I kept extra sheets handy in the room and sometimes even had 2 sheets on the bed separated by a waterproof cover. Then I could simply pull the wet layer off in 10 seconds and the child could be back on their bed in under a minute. I kept spare pyjamas and underwear close too.
Another great strategy was to have a nightlight so that we could see enough without having to put a bright light on and wake both of us up even.
There are a few great products that parents can have in their toolkit too. Bed mats are super absorbent layers that can either be directly under the child or hidden under a sheet if you prefer. They reduce the mess and washing to at least a few items.
Even better are DryNites Pyjama Pants which are super absorbent and generally retain all of the liquid. They look good and can be worn under a nighty or pyjamas if preferred. This gives older kids more confidence, prevents sleep disturbance and almost completely reduces the extra washing loads.
Many parents report using these for their kids at home with excellent results. I have a friend who use them even with much older children when they are away from home at a holiday, friends house or even school camps because their kids can pop them on without anyone knowing under their nightwear. They can dispose of them discretely if they are wet in the morning without bothering anyone or worrying about what others will .
Sleeping dry through the night is a different journey for every child. I think it is fantastic that these are available for families as they work to support their children through this time.
You can even request a free sample to try with your child by visiting the DryNites website.