The following is a sponsored conversation with GoodNites® but all opinions are my own.
So let’s start with me admitting that I was really, REALLY wrong about bed-wetting.
When I heard a few friends talking about how their own children, who are almost five, were still wearing diapers at night, I admit I was really shocked. Had they missed a potty-training memo? Why the heck weren’t they figuring that out because, yeesh, who wants to be changing the diaper of a kid who’s learning to read?
OH NO. SO WRONG.
Neither of our kids had an issue with night-wetting — yet, at least — and they just automatically stayed dry overnight once we stopped putting them to bed with diapers on. In my mind, it was the “last stage” of potty-training, and then I sold the cloth diapers and never thought about it again.
AGAIN: I WAS SO VERY, VERY WRONG.
So when the team at GoodNites® sent me some info on nighttime wetting, I was really surprised (i.e. horrified) by what I’d once thought.
They gave me the chance to chat with Canadian child and family therapist Michele Kambolis, who is the author of Generation Stressed: Play-Based Tools to Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, since May is Better Sleep Month — and for many children, nighttime wetting is keeping them from sleeping through the night.
Here’s what Michele told me about nighttime wetting …
Nighttime wetting is WAY more common than you thought.
1 in 6 children wets the bed at night — that’s 15% of ALL four-year-old to 12-year-olds! 1 in 10 seven-year-olds still wet the bed at least once a week.
“It’s so important for parents to reassure themselves that there’s nothing physically or emotionally wrong with their child. It’s a completely normal part of growing up,” Michele says. “Everyone’s body grows at a different rate, and their body just needs more time.”
Potty-training and night dryness are two DIFFERENT developmental milestones.
Michele says most parents (like me) have no idea that they’re completely different — and that’s a problem.
Using the potty is something you can control, but nighttime wetting is involuntary. Michele says kids are usually potty-trained by age four, but nighttime wetting can last up to adolescence.
Since potty-training is such an “emotionally-loaded” process, with parents jumping up and down, praising, rewarding, etc. like crazy, this can make nighttime wetting feel like a disappointing setback … but it’s not.
Never reward a dry night.
I’m all about the reward system (candy is literally the way we potty-trained both of our kids) so I was surprised that it’s a no-no for nighttime wetting.
So how are you supposed to react if your child wets the bed? Michele says it’s important for parents to have a “non-reaction.” No scolding, no sighing, no complaining about having to change the sheets — none! Just calmly remind them it’s nothing they can control — it’s their body needing more time.
Do NOT use a sticker chart or rewards for when they have a dry night — just like you wouldn’t reward them for waking up with curly hair or blue eyes. They can’t control it, so it doesn’t get to be rewarded OR punished. It is what it is.
Wetting the bed is highly genetic.
If you wet the bed as a kid, your child has a good chance of doing it, too. Michele says if you and your partner BOTH wet the bed as kids, your child has a 77% chance of nighttime wetting, too. That a really high percentage!
The parent’s bed-wedding history can also give you a good idea of when your child will stop. A child’s nighttime wetting almost always resolves within a year of when it stopped for their parents — if your husband stopped when he was eight, your child will likely stop around the same time.
Wetting the bed isn’t something that’s “cured” overnight, and it can come back years later for no reason.
Sometimes it happens right after they’ve potty-trained during the day, and sometimes nighttime wetting doesn’t happen until years later.
So what does it mean if your child has dry nights AND nights where they wet the bed?
If they are always dry at night and suddenly start wetting, it could be a sign they have a bladder infection or even that they’re constipated.
But if they’re wet some nights and dry other nights, that’s totally normal. Michele says there can be “stops and starts in development,” so it’s not uncommon for this to happen. It does NOT mean that they’re stressed, sick, scared, etc. or they’re acting out.
She says kids are often very upset and discouraged when they wet the bed, especially if they’re potty-trained during the day — or if they haven’t wet the bed in a long time.
“Reassure them, let them lean into you, and tell them their body is right on track for developing exactly as it should.”
One of the MANY ways nighttime wetting is different from potty-training has to do with undies — and a lack of undies.
A good potty-training tip is to put a child in underwear during the day so they can feel when they wet themselves. Soggy underwear don’t feel very good, and this can help them recognize the feeling of needing to go and hustling to the toilet.
I’m sure some parents think putting their nighttime wetting child in a diaper at bedtime might be delaying the process because the child may think they are “training” for the the potty again. (After all, they don’t feel when they get wet because it’s nice and absorbent, so how will they learn to wake up and get to the bathroom?) I totally would have thought this, since it’s what makes sense during the day.
But NOPE! Totally not the right way to go.
“You need to focus on keeping your child comfortable so they’re able to sleep through the entire night. Getting enough sleep is so important for brain and body development,” says Michele. “We don’t want them waking up in the middle of the night and disrupting their sleep.”
Since it’s important for potty-trained kids to feel proud of the fact that they’re no longer in diapers, Michele recommends overnight bedtime pants — like GoodNites® — that have fun patterns, are easy to pull on and off, and are designed to look more like real underwear.
GoodNites® just launched a new Extra-Small GoodNites® Bedtime Pant that’s designed to fit snugly on three-year-olds and four-year-olds (28-45 lbs) who are transitioning from potty-training.
But they also have sizes that can fit kids up to 125 lbs. They’re slim-fitting so you couldn’t detect them under a pair of PJs, which is important for older kids going for a sleepover.
(There’s actually a whole section on the site with tips on handling sleepovers, like sliding a pair of GoodNites® into your child’s sleeping bag so they can secretly slip them on right before going to sleep.)
“When children are armed with the knowledge and the products that remind them it’s ‘no big deal,’ it helps ensure they’re confident and happy,” says Michele. “That’s what we all want for our children.”
Just check that there isn't a medical reason for bed wetting. My son was 9 and wetting when we discovered he had type 1 diabetes. Goodnites were a lifesaver.