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Understanding Bedwetting

Educate Yourself on Nighttime Wetting

As a pediatrician and mom, I have spent numerous hours listening to other moms' concerns about potty training and bedwetting, also known as nighttime wetting. From what I hear, there really are a lot of misconceptions about achieving daytime and nighttime dryness in children. 

Recently, GoodNites® conducted a survey of parents nationwide and found that 43% of parents think they can train their child out of nighttime wetting. I'm hoping to give some needed information and clarification to help make sense of the process and help alleviate the stress and anxiety that parents may be feeling.

There are distinct differences between staying dry during the day and overnight. Daytime dryness is usually learned around age 3 or 4 when a child is developmentally, emotionally and physically ready to do so, while staying dry at night often occurs later. In fact, between 5 and 7 million children in the U.S. age 6 and over still sometimes wet their beds. That's more than the number of children (4 million) who entered kindergarten in the United States in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Education. And in Canada, The Canadian Paediatric Society reports that more than 300,000 Canadian children still face nighttime wetting problems.

Many parents think that once daytime potty training is successful, a similar process can be taught to prevent nighttime wetting, but that's not the case. Nighttime dryness occurs when the bladder grows sufficiently in size and its nerve signals to and from the brain mature. Think about it: when a child is sleeping, she needs to have the ability for her small bladder to hold urine for up to 10 hours or have the ability to wake up and use the toilet when she feels a full bladder. This brain/bladder connection may take many years to develop and varies among individuals.

When talking to parents about potty training and bedwetting, each parent I counsel seems to think their child is the only one still wetting the bed. They are always relieved to find out otherwise. I reassure parents that it may take much longer for nighttime dryness to be achieved, and that nighttime wetting is usually not a sign of emotional or psychological issues. I also have parents avoid the term "potty training" when it comes to trying to achieve nighttime dryness. Unlike potty training, bedwetting is something that is hard to control. Instead, dry nights come with time and patience, as most children will outgrow bedwetting. Attempting to train your child out of it will only create unnecessary stress. Dry nights will come with time and patience.

There are measures you can take to help your child until nighttime wetting has resolved. You can help him most by letting him know that it's not his fault and that you don't blame him, making sure he uses the toilet before bed and monitoring the amount of fluids he drinks as bedtime nears. GoodNites® Bedtime Pants also offer children a nighttime wetting management option for a dry night's sleep, helping children wake up more confident.

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