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Understanding Bedwetting

Your Growing Child's Nighttime Needs

From a parent's perspective, when a child is a young toddler, it doesn't matter if it is during the day or during the night — the child needs a diaper or training pant.

As children gradually develop their motor skills, they also develop emotionally. They want to gain a sense of control, or at least figure out what it is they can really control independently.

So potty training, ideally, isn't about behavior or obedience. It's about helping that child feel that this is something she can manage, triumphantly affirming that she's a Big Kid! Of course, not every child is ready or able to be potty trained by 3 years old. Some are ready a little earlier, some later. To potty train a child, parents often use some behavioral incentives as well as their approval and applause when the child is successful. Nothing is more motivating than the attention of a loving parent.

During potty training, the child learns to understand the sensations that tell him when it’s time to go. But at night, it’s hard for him to be aware when he is asleep.

If you try an incentive such as letting your child wear regular underpants when he isn't consistently dry, you may set him up for feeling bad about failing, and worse, about disappointing his parents.

Parents sometimes tell their pediatrician that their child is not "potty trained at night," but it's better to call it bedwetting, or nighttime wetting. It's normal. It's normal for many kids at 4, but also normal — for some children — at 11 or 12. Nighttime wetting is something that your child might do, and there is no "training" to make it go away. It happens as a result of complex body signals that occur involuntarily while the child is asleep. There is no way that your child can control these. The signals change and develop as the child ages — in some kids, a little earlier, some later. There's often a family history, which suggests a genetic influence. Ask your child's grandmother — you might be surprised what you learn! The most important thing you can do is help the child not feel bad about it, so don't treat it or even talk about it as failure. Be supportive and prepared. Using disposable absorbent product like GoodNites® Bedtime Pants can help ease the stress of nighttime accidents and keep sheets dry.

Even though nighttime wetting is almost always normal, start mentioning it at every check-up visit with your child's doctor around age 4 or 5. The doctor will want to know if your child has ever been dry at night. If your child has been dry for long periods, but has recently started being wet at night, make an appointment with your physician. When a child has been successfully potty trained but suddenly has daytime accidents, it could signal a medical issue.

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