My four-year-old has been potty trained for ages, but still wets at night. We've tried to put him in underwear at night, but we end up changing sheets all night long. We're tired of the broken sleep! How long will this go on?
First, some good news: the sleep interruption won't last forever. While it's highly common for a 4-year-old to wear a diaper to bed, 88 percent of kids achieve nighttime dryness by age six. Until then, parents can help pave the way for dry nights (and fewer nighttime laundry emergencies) with these tips:
- Start with realistic expectations. Doctors don't define "bedwetting" until six years of age. In fact, nighttime dryness often lags behind daytime dryness by months or years. Boys typically train more slowly than girls, and kids who are exceptionally deep sleepers and those with developmental delays may have more difficulty with nighttime wetting as well.
- Don't automatically assume your daytime-dry child is ready to ditch diapers at night. If she is wetting the bed most nights, she may lack the developmental maturity to stay dry all night — this is normal. Contrary to what you may have heard, putting her to bed in underwear before she's ready won't speed this maturational process. Using training pants at night can help save everyone's sleep, and it won't compromise daytime potty training success.
- Chips, pretzels, soda, and chocolate aren't great choices for bedtime snacks. Salty foods and caffeine have been shown to increase nighttime urination.
- Line your child's mattress with several layers of fitted sheets and waterproof mattress pads. When a sheet gets wet, simply strip it off along with the mattress pad, and your child will have a fresh, dry sheet (and you can deal with the laundry in the morning).
My article Potty Training After Dark: The Road to Clean, Dry Nights (appearing here in the May 2012 issue of Our Kids San Antonio magazine) tackles this issue more thoroughly.
This post orignally appeared at ParentingSquad.com, where I'm the resident sleep expert.