No More Sleepless Nights

Bed Wetting

Problem: Your potty-trained 4-year-old, who never has accidents during the day anymore, wet his bed -- again.

Likely diagnosis: Normal bedwetting. "Many potty-trained kids can't physiologically hold their urine for ten to 12 hours at night -- it's out of their control," says Dr. Mindell. About 15 percent of kids still wet their bed at age 5, but most kids outgrow it by age 7. For some reason, boys take longer than girls to stay dry through the night. If your child hasn't had an accident for more than six months and suddenly starts wetting his bed, see your pediatrician. It may be a sign of an underlying medical issue, such as a urinary-tract infection, and treating the primary problem will resolve the bedwetting.

In-the-moment fixes: Make it routine for your child to use the toilet before lights-out. Just say, "You don't have to go, but you do have to try." Have your child wear a pull-up diaper to bed until he wakes up dry every morning for a few months. Then nonchalantly suggest going without. But if he starts bedwetting again, keep emotions out of it, says Dr. Mindell. "You don't want him to feel like a failure because that's going to make him feel stressed." Finally, don't let him drink more than a few ounces an hour or so before bed.

Long-term solutions: Once your child reaches age 7, he may become upset or embarrassed by his bedwetting, so ask your pediatrician about prescribing an alarm device to attach to his underwear before bed, suggests Dr. Owens. The alarm sounds as soon as it detects any urine. "The goal is for the alarm to train your child to associate the sensation of needing to urinate with waking up, so that eventually he doesn't need the alarm anymore," explains Dr. Owens. Your doctor can also prescribe medication to keep your child from wetting his bed, but usually this is reserved for occasional events such as a sleepover or a camping trip. "As soon as your child stops taking the medication, he's likely to start bedwetting again, so it doesn't permanently solve the problem," says Dr. Mindell.

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