I love sleep. I mean, I really really love sleep. I miss a good night’s sleep. I mean, I really really miss consistently good sleep. Since having children 9 years ago, I could probably count on my fingers how many nights of uninterrupted sleep I’ve enjoyed. It’s my own fault. I didn’t “sleep train” and I often let my little ones sleep with me.
So when one of my sons (the main kicker and mover) started sleeping all night in his bed, I was ecstatic. However, he still wore pull-ups at night. The idea of night-time training had little appeal.
I read somewhere that your child is ready to sleep without a diaper or pull-up when they wake up dry for at least 3 nights in a row. I can’t recall where I read that, but it stuck with me. So I waited, and waited, and waited and the dry mornings never came. My son had successfully potty trained at 3 but now he was 5 and it didn’t seem like he was anywhere close to being dry at night. In fact, his pull-ups were usually soaking wet and often leaked on the sheets.
Apparently, staying dry throughout the night is harder for some children, especially boys (and as evidenced from the number of Yippee! Sheet boy prints I’ve sold). I’m not an expert but I’ve heard (mostly from discussions with other moms) that there are a number of reasons for bedwetting including:
1) It’s Hereditary – if one of the parents experienced bedwetting, chances are higher that their child may also experience bedwetting.
2) Later to Mature - some children take a little longer for their bodies and bladders to develop in order to stay dry overnight or to send the signal to their brain that they need to get up and pee.
3) Deep Sleepers – some kids sleep so deeply that they don’t even realize that they are peeing in their beds.
4) Too Scared – several moms claimed that their kids were scared of the dark and wouldn’t get up to go to the bathroom on their own.
5) No incentive to get up – why get out of a cozy warm bed, when you can conveniently pee in a diaper or pull-up.
In addition to my kids being deep sleepers and being too scared to get out of bed, I think I may have conditioned them to pee in bed by relying on pull-ups too long. It’s easy to depend on pull-ups. No one – kids nor parents – need to get up and out of bed. But I would recommend trying to lose the pull up, sooner rather than later.
Based on discussions with moms and based on my own experience, here are some tips that may help your kids kick the pull-ups and stay dry through the night:
1) No big drinks before bed. Limit how many fluids your child has before bedtime. If you child is thirsty, perhaps allow for several sips but not a big glass.
2) Pee lots during the day! Remind your child to go to the washroom several times throughout the day. Some kids seem to go for hours without peeing so perhaps going more in the day, especially evening, may help empty the bladder for night.
3) Incentives. A pediatrician encouraged me to try an incentive with one of my sons. He thought he was old enough to get through the night and told me incentives at age 5+ can be helpful for some. So my son and I picked out a toy and I told him if he woke up dry for 4 nights in a week he could have the toy. It totally worked. There were one or two accidents but after that he was on his way! He had to get up in the middle of the night to pee and would wake me up to take him, but I was ok with that. I still keep a Yippee! Sheet under him just in case but he has been fine ever since. For deep sleepers, this may not work but may be worth a try.
4) Wake your child up. Some parents wake their kids up one or two times during the night to get them used to getting up to pee and to avoid bedwetting. Perhaps you can try waking your child before you go to bed if you stay up late and wake them again if you get up during the night yourself to use the washroom.
5) Don’t get angry or shame your child for wetting the bed. I know it can be frustrating and tiring, however try to stay calm. Some parents admitted that they wet the bed as children and recalled their parents getting mad at them when they really couldn’t help it.
If you give it a try and if it doesn’t seem to be working (too many accidents) then maybe you can go back to pull ups and try again another time (I admit, I did this a few times with one of my kids). I do think you need to try for at least a week and if your child has any success, keep it going. Don’t go back to pull-ups if there are only a couple of accidents. They may be on the right track!
Navigating night-time training may not be easy for all and like many childhood developments, happens at different times and for different reasons.
If you have any other tips, please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will share them with everyone.
Best of luck!