Bed Wetting

My oldest son was potty trained when he turned two, and was sleeping without a diaper by the time he was three, no problems whatsoever. My second son was also potty trained when he was two (and actually did it all on his own!)… but is STILL sleeping in a diaper at bedtime even at four years old. He just can’t seem to go the whole night without needing to wee!

I’ve talked to several friends, and it seems that most kids are sleeping in undies by the time they’re four. But I have some friends with even older kids (it seems mostly boys) who are still wetting the bed! So… is it genetic? Does bed-wetting happen to some kids in particular? What causes it? Smaller bladder maybe? Is it ‘treatable’ (for lack of a better word)? I’ve tried all the normal tricks, but nothing seems to work. Does anyone have any tips or experience to share?



Comments (17)

July 8, 2011

I’m going through a similar scenario with my 3.5 year old boy. Potty trained since 2, but just can’t make it through the night. I’ve tried sitting him on the loo just before I go to bed and not giving him too much liquid at night, but no luck yet. He sleeps through anything including being soaking wet! So I would also be very interested to see people’s comments!

Bob M.
February 29, 2012

Bed wetting is not inherited, but the “sleep pattern” is. The amount of liquids consumed in the evening really has no bearing on whether a child will wet a night or not…it’s merely an old wive’s tale. One of the biggest problems at this stage of the game is that the bladder and the brain are not communicating with each other. Up through grade-school-age, the ratio who still wet at night are 4 boys: 1 girl.

July 8, 2011

Same problem with my son…..I’ve been told its just a development thing and it clicks into place as they are ready……i have been advised to get him into a habit of going to the loo just before bed and also just as he wakes up even if he is in nappies.

July 8, 2011

Actually, it isn’t unusual for boys to not be night trained until 5 or 6. Our son is five and we have sort of won on night training. We really didn’t start to push it until he was about 5. He wanted to stop wearing night wear night diapers (a.k.a pull-ups) well before then but his body wasn’t ready. He is a heavy sleeper so that contributed to the delay. We have gotten him into the habit of going potty before bed and keep liquids at a minimum after 5 p.m. He has historically woken between 1 and 2 a.m. and wants me to come and cuddle with him. In the past month or two, we have gotten him into the habit of trying to go potty when he wakes and wants me to cuddle. All-in-all don’t fret too much about this, it is normal. He won’t go off to college wearing pull-ups or wetting his bed. Good luck.

July 8, 2011

My son was just over 4. We tried going without night time pull ups a a month or so before he actually cracked it – but he just wasn’t read, so we went back to pull ups. He wasn’t going through the night dry at all – then suddenly a few weeks (or months) later, he was. I don’t think you can really try any particular tricks or tactics – I think they are just ready when they are ready. I think that it’s a physiological thing. Best of luck!

July 9, 2011

May well be a boy thing. I started my B/G twins (now 3.5 yrs) together a few months ago. They go to loo before bed, then I take them around 1am. DD no problems after just a week or so, DS still wets his bed most mornings. Some mornings I go and see him and he is soaking wet but fast asleep. One day it will just click I guess.

July 9, 2011

Ditto all of the above.. Except my 4.5yr old is a GIRL.. we’ve tried everything but no luck so far..

molly hyde-caroom
July 9, 2011

I have 4 children. One is now 22. He was trained fully day and night by 2 years old. Then, I had twins who are now 9 (two girls). One was trained fully day and night by 3 years and the other finally got out of pull ups around 7 1/2. Until about a year ago, we still had to take her to the bathroom right before bed. She was a very heavy sleeper and seemed to have a little bladder. She is also one of my more academic children and very mature socially. My last son will be 5 next week and is still in pullups. We take him to the bathroom before bed and then again when we go to bed and sometimes he’s dry and sometimes not in the AM. I figure there is no science to this and that they just grow into being aware of the need to wake up eventually.

July 9, 2011

I potty trained my son at 3 but kept him in pull-up nappies in bed until his 5th birthday. By that time, I had an idea he had bladder control, but was just too lazy.
Once I took him out of them, he had a couple of night-time accidents, but then stopped wetting at night. A few weeks after we got him dry, we visited family, and I put him in pull-ups for one night (in case of accidents).
He wet the nappy, but the following night at home stayed dry.
This proved to me that he was weeing when he knew it was safe to do so. When it wasn’t , he knew to hold it in until morning or go to the loo.

Emilie in Paris
July 9, 2011

I have heard it has a lot to do with how deep the child’s sleep is. A lot of children don’t have a bladder big enough to make it through the night, but are light sleepers so wake up, do their business and go back to sleep. The problem is when a kid sleeps so deeply that he does not even wake up when needing to go to the toilet. My brother only started being dry though the night when he got chicken pox at 5 and was uncomfortable enough to wake up at night when he had to go to the toilet. After that he was fine… (I am sure he is really happy I am sharing this information).

July 11, 2011

One word. Hereditary. It doesn’t matter when the child was potty trained. It all starts with the growth of the bladder meaning that the child grows faster than his/her bladder, and yes, deep sleepers. I know this because I come from a long line of bed wetters, me being one of them. I lasted until I was 14. My brothers, cousins, etc. also. I also found out that my husband did as well, until he was 12. Our parents tried everything from waking us up through the night to electrical apparatus that would beep and wake us up (which I never heard beep). Just relax with your child and go with the flow. It will end in time. In my case, a LONG time. 🙂

July 13, 2011

That is amazing that your sons are both day trained so young! If it puts your mind at ease, our pediatrician (USA) said that for both genders, the “normal” age a child will be ready to stay dry at night is around 5. And fortunately for us, our daughter started being able to wear undies at night right around her 5th birthday, we had tried beforehand to wake her to take her to the potty before we went to bed, but it works best if you try and time that out with their sleep cycle as they cycle into light sleep (about every hour and a half). Good luck! My 3 year old daughter still wears pull ups to day nap and sleep through the night.

Courtney in London
July 14, 2011

Thank you all so much for your helpful comments. At the very least, I feel so much better knowing it is normal and that many kids aren’t dry during the night until they’re five! I have one more year to let it rest before I need to start worrying… Thanks! x Courtney

July 25, 2011

Have you considered sleep apnea may cause the bed wetting? Take a look to be sure the tonsils aren’t inflamed, causing sleep apnea. Two friends with 6 and 10-year-old children, respectively, have found that a tonsilectimy has solved the bed-wetting.

Nat from Kiev
October 6, 2011

In our case, our daughter was dry at night when she was 2 but started bedwetting at age 5. After a year I bought an alarm online, it is a plastic mat attached to a loud alarm. As soon as it gets wet, the alarm goes off – she learned to wake-up when she needed to go, a conditioned reflex of some kind. It took 4 weeks (rather stressful on the rest of the family as it is REALLY loud) and she has never wet the bed again. Definitely worth trying on older children.

Bob M.
February 29, 2012

Some of you may disagree with me here, but daytime potty training and night time wetting are two completely different animals. The truth is that children (during the day) potty train themselves. We as parents are responsible for showing them the “what, where, why and when” and the rest is up to them; they are in complete control. When they are asleep, they don’t have that control. The brain and the bladder don’t know if the child is wearing underwear, Pull-ups, or a regular diaper. Laziness has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not he or she will wake-up wet. With rare exception, NOBODY likes waking-up in a cold & wet diaper or bed. Alarm systems: They have about a 15% success rate because regardless of how loud it may be, it will wake-up everyone in the house long before the child is awakened.

February 3, 2015

[…] kids can be potty trained during the day for years before they master holding their wee overnight. So for nap time and nighttime, we always put the nappy back on. When we saw that the nappy would […]

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