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« Q&A: cutting out the last night feeding for a toddler | Main | Q&A: toddler stripping off clothes »



We struggle with this quite a bit in my house. My daughter is 4.5, and last spring/summer, she was officially out of her nighttime pull-ups. We had only very occasional accidents. But then, we had to switch her bedroom because we were having a new baby. And, of course, the new baby arrived. And then, my husband and I separated, temporarily. Well, the poor kid went through a lot. And the accidents got much more frequent, so she went BACK into pullups.
She really wants to be out of them, and sometimes I let her skip them. But, when she DOES have an accident, it's THREE loads of laundry - sheets and pad, comforter, duvet. The research I've done online indicates that some kids don't have full control of nighttime wetting until they are 5 or 6. And, once she was sleeping with me when she wet the bed, and though the sound of the stream woke me up (ewwww), she was fast asleep.
I feel terrible about pressuring her about this if it is truly a physical issue. Then again, it only became a problem when she went through a tough emotional time. So, for her maybe it ISN'T physical? ARGH - sorry for being no help at all, but this is a big issue for my household as well. The one thing I have realized from writing this, though, is that we need to lose the duvet while she is working on this issue, LOL. Talk about creating problems for oneself!!


My son became day trained right around his third birthday (he started pre-school just before his third birthday and he was trained but I remember really worrying about it). Then, when he was 3 and 3 months, we had a new baby. I was more than happy to table the night thing for awhile.

He went diaper free for the night for the first time on his fourth birthday. With the new baby, and then school ending, and then vacations during the summer, and then school starting up again...we never felt like the time was right. Plus, his diaper was wet half the time when he woke up in the morning. A few weeks before his fourth birthday by husband set up a sticker chart for dry diapers in the morning. He did really well, and after the two weeks were up we went cold turkey. The only accident he's had has been when he was sick. I think he was so accident free because we waited so long, but since he didn't seem to mind I wouldn't change it.


My thoughts:
1. My daughter was easy -- she decided no more diapers, and that was that (an accident or two, but nothing major!) But since this is not typical, I'll relate two other stories.

2. My sister (10 years younger than I am) was about 3 and day-time trained, but still in diapers at night when she said to my mother "wear diaper at night, don't have to go to potty." That very night, NO MORE DIAPERS -- and no accidents. So, maybe the kids just know that if they are wearing a diaper they do not have to worry about getting up.

3. And, maybe the child is a bed-wetter. I was a bed-wetter until I was about 8 years old or so. I don't remember when or how it stopped -- but it certainly wasn't a choice I was making!


Our kids are 5+, and as Moxie knows (because I wrote about it in my comment to the last potty-training post), I had more or less decided that the kids were NEVER going to wake up dry for so long as they slept in Good-Night diapers. (We had to switch out of pull-ups because they leaked. A Lot.)

So, we're five or six days into the experiment, with the girls only, and it's been entirely hit-or-miss as to who wakes up dry and who doesn't. I was just going to ask Moxie, in fact, how long she thought I should tough this out, because neither girl has stayed dry two nights in a row. (Our son still "leaks," copiously, during the day, only going to the potty if he's reminded constantly, and even then still leaking 2 times out of 3, no matter how soon I asked, so...no, not trying nighttime dryness with him any time soon.)

As for the laundry issue, Moxie, your kids must be light-yet-still sleepers, because (a) my kids are sleeping through the accident every time [I woke up with Gemma next to me, and she'd peed in OUR bed, and I was wet, too -- then again, I didn't wake up because of the pee, so maybe this oblivion is hereditary?] and (b) they soak everything -- bottom sheet, top sheet, and quilt. Also, they scrunch the waterproof pad into a tiny ball and pee around it. So it's been laundry fun time around here, to put it mildly.

I guess I'll have to get back to you at the end of next week, to tell you whether we've had any improvement.

Oh, and I'm waking the girls up before I go to bed, FWIW.


My son was fairly easy -- he was daytime and naptime trained by 3 1/2 years old and then nighttime happened by the time he was 4. We just decided at some point to stop using pullups and he got it fairly quickly. He still had occasional (maybe 1-2 times/month) until he was 5, though. But really not a big problem, just an infrequent inconvenience.

My daughter was a whole different story. She was daytime and naptime trained before she was 3 years old. But for the life of us, we couldn't get her to stay consistently dry at night. We tried the underwear route many, many times and it always failed. The middle of the night drama and laundry every day were just too much. It was very frustrating. Finally, about 2 months before her 5th birthday, we invested in a bedwetting alarm (ours is a Malem, got it from http://www.bedwettingstore.com). It wasn't an instant fix, but it worked! In less than 2 months she was dry every night and has been ever since January of this year. One of the best parenting decisions we've made. My daughter is so proud of her accomplishment.


Oh, also I should say, we tried every "trick" in the book with my daughter before resorting to the alarm. Limiting fluids, taking her to the bathroom around 11 pm, waking her in the morning to go, a reward system, even Hyland's bedwetting tablets. She just slept right through every accident -- she really needed to learn to feel what her body was doing and the alarm was what finally did it.


My son was trained during the day at 3.3years old, but still wore a diaper or pull-up at night. Occasionally if he was dry at night for most of a week we'd try underwear at night. We'd say "let's see if your body is ready." But after a few accidents we'd go back to pull-ups. He never seemed bothered by it, because we just told him that "that's okay, it just means your body's not ready yet."

We had a problem with pull-ups leaking at night. What I recommend for that is a large flannel-coated waterproof mat, about 2 or 3ft square. We'd keep it handy in his room, and then if he leaked at night, we wouldn't have to change the sheets, we'd just put the mat over the wet spot and he'd go back to sleep.

We also tried waking him up around midnight for a while to take him to the bathroom, and then he'd usually stay dry for the rest of the night, but it didn't seem to help his body learn so I don't recommend it.

At about 4.7years old it turned out his body was ready, and he's been dry at night ever since.


First of all, I want to thank you all for answering my question. As it is, my son decided to postpone the diaper-weaning for a while. I think, he's mostly relieved about it, but there may be mixed feelings. Tonight he insisted on putting his doll to bed as well. (He hasn't done this since Christmas.) when I asked him, whether the doll should be wearing a diaper he said, "She has to wear a diaper, because she's small like me. She's only three years old, so she has to wear a diaper."

So, suddenly he's small again. But for the next round of the diaper-challenge, I'll surely try to let him decide when to leave the diaper off.


Jody, maybe you should get a front-loading washing machine and then make the girls do their own laundry when they wet the bed. (I was joking, but then in rereading the statement doesn't it sound like something that would have been written seriously in a parenting manual from the 1940s?) Also, I think the covers aren't an issue because El C always kicks off all his covers earlier in the night than any bedwetting occurred.

Iheartnewyork (and who doesn't?) always has the best links for me. First Ask Ausiello, now http://www.bedwettingstore.com/. (Seriously, how did people live without the internet? There's a whole store for supplies for people with kids who wet the bed.)

Oh, and for any New Yorkers in the crowd, if you take your kid to see the Snowshow, s/he will wet the bed that night from the excitement.


Wow, Moxie, thanks for the recommendation, that show looks great! I'd never heard of it. I'll have to get us tickets for sometime this summer -- a snowstorm in the heat of the summer sounds so appealing.


Thanks to everyone for your experiences and suggestions. We had tried going cold turkey shortly after the daytime potty training, stuck with it about a week with no success. The experience (lots of night time waking) left my husband reluctant to try again, but it sounds like it's one of those things we just need to keep trying periodically until we happen upong the magic age for her. Or we buy a bed-wetting alarm, if it goes on long enough!


My daughter was day and nap time trained at age 3 after using cloth diapers. Bedtime has seen diapers, pull ups, underpants (and loads and loads of laundry in the morning) and now back to pull ups with nothing more than 4 nights in a row dry. I suggested to her a new toy if she was dry x number of days. She picked 4 days and picked a $5 stuffed animal why she reached those 4 days. She now say she wants a two wheeler when she is dry 7 nights. It is going to take a long time since we only have about 1 dry night a week.
We have layer sheets and waterproof pads on her bed for night time changes. She goes to bed by 8:30 and we wake her when we go to bed between 10-11. She still wet each night sometimes more that once. My husband says he had issues for a while so I'm not expecting an easy fix but it is wearing me out.

Claire Gee

I just thought I would mention something that we found was a contributing factor to the whole bedwetting thing (once you have dealt we other more obvious contributers).

Being too cool. Kids that are just slightly too cool overnight loose a lot less fluid through sweat and are more likely to wet, or need to go to the toilet. Our daughter was night trainied very quickly, but was waking up a lot at night needing to go to the toilet, our son would just compleatly fill his night pull up, and the "overflow" would wet the bed. Adding a very thin cotton blanket to what was already on the bed stopped the night waking/wetting.
The tricky part about adding a thin blanket is that if you add one that makes the kid too warm, they kick off thier covers and get cold anyway.

This trick only really works if the child is ready in other ways.

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  • My expertise is in helping people be who they want to be, with a specialty in how being a parent fits into everything else. I like people. I like parents. I think you're doing a fantastic job. The nitty-gritty of what you do with your kids is up to you, although I'm happy to post questions here to get data points of how you could try approaching different stages, because, let's face it, this shit is hard. As for me, I have two kids who sleep through the night and can tie their own shoes. I've been a married SAHM, a married freelance WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WOHM, and now a WAHM again. I'm not buying the Mommy Wars and I'll come sit next to you no matter how you're feeding your kid. When in doubt, follow the money trail. And don't believe the hype.
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