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Traveling & Sleepovers

Don't Let Bedwetting Get in the Way of a Great Sleepover

Boy smiling while playing in his dinosaur pajamas

Last Updated: 3/26/21
Read Time: 3 minutes

Going to a sleepover is an exciting childhood event. Whether it’s an overnight stay with a grandparent or extended family or a birthday party at a friend’s place, spending the night at someone else’s house is a rite of passage for kids as they get older. But, if your child is still wetting the bed at night, sleepovers can also be a source of anxiety. The key is to focus on the special sleepover experience instead of the potential nighttime accident so your kid can enjoy the occasion.

What makes a sleepover different from other childhood experiences? For many kids, it could be the first time they are away from their parents, giving them a sense of independence while still being safe with family or a trusted friend. At a kid’s sleepover bed time often happens much later, a thrilling experience for most, kids. And movies, treats, games and even a sleeping bag or makeshift bed on the floor can fill a kid with excitement about stepping out of the ordinary and into a new adventure.

If a kids sleepover is on the horizon and you have a nervous child, there are steps you can take to ease their worries and make sure they don’t miss out on the fun. Here’s what you can do at a sleepover to help your child or teen feel more confident:

  • Wear absorbent nighttime pants for discreet protection. Goodnites® NightTime Underwear offer nighttime protection to help keep your child dry if bedwetting occurs. They have a slim fit, so other kids won’t even know your child is wearing them. “My daughter experienced bedwetting until she was 9,” says Dr. Howard Bennett, a pediatrician and children’s book author. “Our favorite trick was to hide Goodnites® at the bottom of her sleeping bag, so she could shimmy into them before bed. She woke up dry and comfortable, and nobody ever had to find out.”
    Your child can get dressed privately in the bathroom if that makes them more comfortable, or just wear the Goodnites® underwear to their overnight adventures so no change is necessary. The more kids can do on their own, the more confidence they will have to handle issues that come up in the future.
  • Pack a plastic bag. Karla Giramonti, a nurse practitioner for the Division of Urology at the Albany Medical Center in New York, tells her patients to pack a plastic bag with an absorbent underpant in their sleeping bag. In the morning, the child can discreetly put the used underpant in the plastic bag and roll the plastic bag up in the sleeping bag, and no one will ever know!
  • Get other parents on board. If your child wets the bed, you might consider hosting a sleepover yourself so you can help your child. If the sleepover is at someone else’s house, Dr. Bennett suggests explaining the situation to the hosting parents ahead of time. “If everyone is on the same team, it will make the process go smoothly,” says Dr. Bennett. “For my daughter, the parents would wake her up before the rest of the kids. If she was wet, she would have the opportunity to change and give her wet Goodnites® to the parents so no one would see them.” With an older child or teen, discuss this option with them to make sure they’re comfortable with you sharing. It’s pretty standard for toddler sleepover ideas though.
  • Talk to camp counselors. If your child is going to sleep-away camp, communicate with the counselors before they go. Paula Criel, director of camping services with the YMCA of the Greater Houston Area, says that prior to their child attending camp, parents complete medical forms and camper profiles that inform the counselors of conditions such as nighttime wetting. “It is not unusual for a counselor to have a few campers that wet the bed,” says Criel. She adds that the counselors are experienced at helping the children be discreet about the condition.
  • Practice. Dr. Bennett often asks his patients: How do athletes get to be as good as they are? Practice! Kids can practice sleepovers by first spending the night at grandma’s house. This is a great way for children to worry less about staying dry at night and start feeling more comfortable going to sleepovers.  Alternatively, your child can take a sleeping bag into a sibling’s room and have a pretend sleepover or try some of their tricks at a best friend’s house where there is less likely to be any teasing if the child wakes up wet.

A sleepover can be a big step forward on your child’s path to self-sufficiency. But if your child is too anxious about possible bedwetting, you can suggest an “almost” sleepover, also called a “sleep under.” Your child can enjoy all of the activities and participate in the party aspect of the evening but get picked up right before bedtime. It’s easy to provide an excuse, like an early morning family commitment, that will allow your child to leave the party without raising suspicion and without subjecting them to needless worry.

Whichever option your child chooses right now, sleepovers are a cornerstone of happy childhood memories. When your kid feels ready for the occasion, you can help them with a plan to limit their bedwetting anxiety so they can focus on having fun instead.

These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, consult your doctor as needed.

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