How to Prevent Bedwetting in Preschoolers

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
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Congratulations, your preschooler is potty trained! Most of the time anyway. During the day they run around free as a bird, unencumbered by diapers or training pants.

Nighttime, however, might be different story. Either you put them to bed in training pants or dry underwear only to wake up in the middle of the night to a wet child and bed.

Although worrisome, bedwetting is a perfectly normal behavior for preschool-aged children who have just been potty trained—perhaps as often as a three or four times a week.

Children (preschoolers and older) may wet their bed when they are under stress or because there is another underlying medical or emotional cause.

Steps to Get Past Bedwetting

There are some steps you can take as a parent to support your child and prevent bet wetting, including:

  • Put a limit on the number of drinks your child has after a certain point in the evening. For example, you let them have one last drink about an hour before bedtime.
  • Make sure your child goes to the bathroom before they go to bed.
  • If your child falls asleep (and back to sleep) easily, wake them up a little later to go to the potty again before you or your partner goes to bed.
  • Without putting any pressure on your child, have a chat with them at bedtime about why staying dry through the night is important. Make sure your child knows that it's OK to get up and go to the bathroom during the night if they need to.

The most important thing is that your child knows bedwetting is not their fault. Children under the age of seven don't yet have the bladder capacity to stay dry all night. They're also still learning to recognize bodily signals telling them they need to use the bathroom.

The expression, "That's why we call it an accident and not an on purpose," totally fits the bill here. Don't make your child feel guilty for bedwetting—chances are they already feel bad enough as it is. Instead, let your child know that you are there to support and help them.

Potty Training Tricks

Employing the methods that you used to initially potty train your preschooler can also help curb bedwetting.

For example, a sticker chart is a great way to positively reinforce dry nights. Reward your child once they've collected a set number—say, a whole week without wetting the bed.

If your child does have a bedwetting accident, continue the reason. If your child starts wetting the bed after being dry all night for six months, consider what is going on in their 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? Stress, especially life-changing occurrences, can cause any child to wet the bed.

If this happens, reassure your child that everything is going to be OK and that you will work on it together.

However, if the nighttime accidents are frequent or increasing—especially if they aren't tied to a specific stressor—there may be another cause.

If your child turns six years old and they are still wetting the bed twice a week or more for longer than week, talk to your pediatrician.

Your child's doctor can do a thorough exam and determine if your child's bedwetting has a medical cause that needs to be treated.

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