Congratulations, your preschooler is potty trained! Most of the time anyway. During the day he runs around free as a bird, unencumbered by diapers and training pants. It feels as if a weight has been lifted off of (or from the bottom of at least) both of you. Nighttime however, is a different story. Either you need to put him in a training pant of some sort, or, you put him in underwear, only to awaken in the middle of the night to a wet child and bed. It's OK though. Although worrisome, bedwetting is a perfectly normal behavior for preschool-aged children who have just been potty trained -- even as often as a three or four times a week. And even if he gets over this initial bedwetting stage, many children -- preschoolers and older -- sometimes wet their bed due to stress or another underlying issue.
To help your child get past the bedwetting stage, there are some steps you can take:
- Put a limit on the number of drinks your child has after a certain point. Say, after dinner, limit her to one more drink and an hour before bedtime, no more.
- Make sure your child goes to the bathroom before she goes to bed.
- If your child falls asleep easily enough, wake her to go again before you go to bed.
- Without putting any pressure on your child, before she goes to sleep, talk about how it's important she stay dry and if she needs to wake up to go to the bathroom, it's OK that she do so.
The most important thing to relay to your child is that bedwetting is not their fault. Young children under the age of seven don't yet possess the bladder capacity to stay dry all night long, nor an awareness of the signals that his body sends out that tell him he needs to go to the bathroom. One of my favorite expressions is, "That's why we call it an accident and not an on purpose," and it totally fits the bill here. Don't make your child feel guilty for bedwetting -- they already feel bad enough as it is. Instead, let your child know that you are there to support and help them and together you will come up with a solution.
Employing methods that you used to potty train your preschooler also work to help curb bedwetting. Using a sticker chart is a great way to positively reinforce a dry night. If your child has collected a set number -- say he has stayed dry for a whole week -- promise a trip to the dollar store or ice cream shop as a reward.
Stress can definitely cause a child to wet the bed. If your child has been dry at night for six months or more and starts bedwetting, consider what is going on in his life. Is there a new sibling in the house? Are you in the middle of a divorce? Has the child lost a close family member? These life-changing occurrences can cause a child to wet the bed. In this case, again, reassure your child that everything is going to be OK and that you are going to work on it together, using the methods listed above.
If your child turns six years old and wets his bed twice a week or more for a week or two, it's time to talk to your pediatrician. There could be a medical issue that is causing your child to wet the bed.