Helpful hints for nighttime toilet training

First of all – you are not alone! There are thousands of parents out there with children that wet the bed. Just think of it as another stage they are going through, like learning to walk, or having dry pants during the day. Of course there are always the people out there that are happy to say “my child has never wet the bed” but there are many more who are at the same stage as you.

There is no easy answer and the fact is that different things work for different children and no matter what; most children will outgrow it eventually. It’s also important to remember there are no miracle cures or overnight successes.

Children are very observant and aware of their environment. They are especially sensitive to what is happening within their peer group and how they fit in. When they realise that they are different from their peers and are suffering from something that their friends have outgrown, they may feel ashamed and embarrassed. This could result in them becoming withdrawn and scared. It is helpful to be aware of these feelings and encourage your child to talk with you about them.

Here are some suggestions:

  • A night light can make a huge difference. Your child needs to feel safe getting up in the middle of the night if they need to.
  • Praise and reward your child for staying dry or getting up to toilet
  • Prepare the bed and the child. Take some of the hassle out of bedwetting with a Brolly Sheet. A Brolly Sheet is a bed pad with wings that tucks in over the bottom sheet.  Your child sleeps directly on the cotton top, so when wet you only need to change the Brolly Sheet.  No more stripping the bed.
  • Set a routine bedtime for your child. Over tired children fall deeply asleep and have a harder time waking up to go to the bathroom.
  • Give your child plenty of fluid during the day. Avoid caffeinated drinks e.g. tea chocolate and fizzy drinks before bedtime. Limit fluids before bed time.
  • If you are still giving a bedtime bottle, now is the time to drop it. If your child is hydrated during the day, a big drink at bedtime or during the night is not necessary.
  • If you get your child up to wee after being asleep for several hours make sure they are fully awake. The idea is to train the child’s unconscious mind to recognize the feeling of “having to go” and use that recognition to clamp down on the sphincter muscle. If a child is sleeping too deeply to wake to go to the bathroom, you will need to wake the child up. Over 10 to 12 weeks, a parent will see a gradual reduction in the amount of fluid a child releases. In other words, the child will still wet the bed but they will gradually be able to react and use their sphincter muscles before completely letting go of their bladder until they finally reach the point of complete control. It can be like waking up several times a night with a newborn, but, like the time spent with your newborn, the results are certainly worth the sacrifice. Some parents recommend waking the child for a visit to the toilet about two hours after they’ve gone to sleep. If the sheet is already wet, wake them a half hour earlier the next night. Keep reducing the time until you catch the first wee.
  • Bedwetting can be a real challenge for parents: broken sleep, extra washing, worried for their child and so forth. Because of this, it is so important to guard your reactions toward your child. Lack of sleep at 2am in the morning can bring about bad attitudes and it is vitally important that you don’t say what you are feeling at this point. You need to put yourself in your child’s shoes. No one wants to be wet and cold with broken sleep. Your child doesn’t want it either, so punishing them for something out of their control is insensitive and cruel, and can create all sorts of psychological problems. You need to be sensitive to your child’s feelings so as not to add to the problem and create any further stress or anxiety for your child.
  • Drink about 1.5 to 2 litres of water based drinks spaced out through the day (more if very active or if the weather is hot).
  • Think of ways to manage the problem in the short term, such as wearing washable absorbent pants or pads, or use Brolly Sheets for bedding protection.  Brolly Sheets have designed Woxers – waterproof boxer shorts.  These can be great for sleepovers as wearing with a tee – they just look like pyjamas.  These are great for the final stages of toilet training when your child is waking after the start of an accident.
  • Have realistic expectations. Expect just the occasional dry night at the first few attempts.
  • Using a Bedwetting Alarm. This is a small battery-powered device which contains a moisture sensor. When the child starts to wee, a signal is sent to a control panel and the alarm sounds (and/or vibrates) to wake the child. Alarms are effective in about 80% of cases. The key is patience; the system can take up to 12 weeks to make a difference.
  • Bladder training during the day. Because some cases are due to a small or immature bladder, some experts suggest encouraging the child to increase the time between urinating during the day. This helps to stretch the bladder so it can hold more at night.
  •  If your child is becoming anxious or frustrated, take the pressure off. Forget about night-time toilet training for a while.
  • Bedwetting is MOST COMMONLY caused by; difficulty arousing from sleep in response to a full bladder, the production of more urine at night than the bladder can store and even a family history of Bedwetting. Bedwetting in a child who’s never been dry is NOT caused by; laziness or rebelliousness – no child wants to wet the bed, it is too humiliating. Sleeping deeply (this can just make bladder training more of a challenge).
  • Changes in the daily routine or an increase in activities could also contribute to your child’s wetting. If he is getting overtired from school and extramural activities then he’ll no doubt sleep like a log and not be able to rouse himself to respond to his full bladder and go to the toilet. Make sure that if your child is super tired that you have reminded him to go to the toilet before going to bed.
  • Help your child understand bedwetting and explain that it is a normal part of growing up. Once you have had these discussions put some systems in place to help him deal with the situation.
  • Keeping a record will show progress. Using a reward chart can work for some children, but if motivation isn’t the challenge, and there are reasons beyond the physical control of your child then don’t use this method. It isn’t fair for your child as bed wetting is out of their control.   When this is the case just use it to record how often they wet.

Brolly Sheets is a family-run business, designed by mum Diane Hurford after her own experience with her child’s bedwetting.

“They say that necessity is the mother of all inventions and I knew there had to be a better way so I created a waterproof mattress protector that my children could comfortably sleep on.”

Thus, Brolly Sheets was born.


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