Potty Accidents at Night (Bedwetting)
Night time potty training is very similar to bed wetting, and it can be confusing what the difference is. Night time potty training are for children under the age of 5, their bodies are typically growing at such a fast rate it can be hard for their bladders to keep up. Bed wetting is for children from the ages of 5 up to 13 years old who have wetting accidents during the night.
Parents can often get frustrated about night time accidents, thinking children do it because they are "lazy" or being rebellent. MOST children can not help are having bed time accidents, and that is exactly what it is: an accident. Achieving night time potty control is not simply a learned skill, but rather a physiological development and the control is largely involuntary. In some cases, circumstances require learning how to achieve night time control (see bed wetting section).
Babies urinate around the clock and then at about the average age of 18 months, as the sphincter muscles mature, toddlers will make the transition from urinating around the clock to only urinating during the waking hours as is the case with most adults.
Having to urinate at night is not an issue with most adults, since when an adult's bladder is full at night, a signal goes from the bladder to the brain and we are awakened with the need to go. For children, this signaling mechanism comes with age. Most pediatricians do not consider bed wetting an issue until after the age of five.
Below is a table that shows the age at which children achieve night time control.
Age of Child
% of children have achieve night time control
Under 3 years
Under 4 years
Under 5 years
Under 6 years
What to do about accidents:
The key to dealing with night time accidents is slightly different from dealing with day time accidents, because night time accidents are NOT voluntary. Your child does not have ability to control the accident, so, there are no consequences given. As you face another clean up, realize that this is hard on your child as well. S/he does not want to have accidents any more than you do.
- DO NOT GET ANGRY
- stay neutral - this is an accident
- no guilt or shame on the child
- clean up and move on.
Therefore if you child is having more than 2-3 accidents per month, I would recommend using disposable pull ups and making it less stressful on everyone involved. Monitor the situation and try to switch to cloth training pants or underwear again, when your child is older and may have achieved night time control. If you child is wetting at night and is trained during the day, consult with the child's pediatrician, especially if the child is 5 years old or older.
How to approach night time potty training are listed below.
- If you child is dry most mornings, then definitely try moving to underwear and see if your child will actually stay dry and / or wake up to use the potty. Make sure that you have some mattress protection in place, so the clean up can be done easily with minimal frustration.
- I really like the mattress pads that you can put on top of the bed sheets and wrap around both sides of the mattress. Have at least 2 of these on hand, so if and when you have to deal with an accident at night, you do not have to strip the whole bed, but rather just change out the mattress pad.
- If you child is waking up wet, then I would recommend considering other options. Again how you approach this depends on how often you child is wetting and your own tolerance level to accidents and accident clean up.
- If you child is wetting often, i.e. 2-3 times per week, I would recommend staying with a disposable pull up. This makes it easier on every one involved. My only caution to the usage of disposable products is the issue of confusion in the child's mind, because the disposables do not let the child feel the wetness.
So, if you are going to use the disposable products, I would recommend following:
- Sell the pull up as a night time pant for big kids; you want your child to be proud of the fact that s/he is now wearing underwear and not diapers - so these are special underwear for big kids - just for night time. If you have been using pull ups already - switch to a different brand - so that you child will indeed see a difference.
- Put the pull up just before bedtime. Have you child use the potty or toilet before bed, and the put on the pull up.
- Remove the pull up as soon as your child wakes up. Most people will urinate right after waking up, and give you child the opportunity to urinate in the potty or toilet instead of the pull up.
If your child is wetting occasionally, 2-3 times per month, you may want to use night time cloth training pants. If your child is wetting only 1-2 times every 3 months - I would recommend switching completely to regular underwear and using a good mattress pad until s/he is completely dry.
The bottom line is that just over half the children (66%) will be dry at night by the age of 3; however 33% of children or 1 in every 3 children will still wet at night when being potty trained in the day time. So, to be successful with night time potty training (I mean success in term of the least amount of stress on you and your child), do the following:
- Know your and your spouse's bed wetting history
- Know your child's behavior pattern for waking up dry
- Based on this information, be prepared with a plan on how you will address night time potty training
- Be patient and be flexible; adjust plan as needed.
- Consult your child's pediatrician if you have issues or concerns.
Add yours? >>
My daughter has been potty trained for over a year now but is wetting the bed every single night. We get her to use the bathroom before we go to bed but has made no difference.
Is this something I should be concerned about? I do not use pull ups at night because I am afraid she will use this as an excuse to not get up in the night and also I'm afraid it will regress the daytime potty train. Any advice on what I can do?
PTC Comment: I am not quite sure how old your daughter is by your email and I am guessing that you are monitoring her liquid intake late in the evening. I do have a question for you, does she wake up after she goes or does she sleep right through the night even though she is wet? If she is still sleeping through, it could be that she is sleeping to heavily to know that she has had an accident.
If that is the case, you might try using a bedwetting alarm to awaken her so that she gets up to go to the potty. If she is more than 5 years old, you might want to consult your pediatrician to see if they might have an insight to the bed-wetting problem.