Five year old with a wet bed
Kelly asked if she should do anything about a 5 year old chlid who is still wetting the bed.
Night training will occur automatically, and there really isn’t anything parents can do that makes much difference. Think about it: the kiddo’s asleep, and isn’t really trying or not trying to do anything. Star charts, rewards, punishments, or “practice” are all very unlikely to make any difference.
Children wet the bed because they sleep very deeply, and while asleep cannot really pay attention to the signals from their bladder. The deepest sleepers tend to continue wetting the bed the longest. Often (but not always) one or both parents were also wetting the bed at the same age.
Many things have been tried:
- Restricting fluids after dinner. This is a tough one to do—when kids are thirsty, they’re going to drink. One variation: rather than decrease evening drinking, try to encourage more morning drinks. That way Junior might be less thirsty before bed and less likely to go to sleep filled with water. At least one study from Europe showed that this exact stretegy did work, at least some of the time.
- Potty pagers. These are gizmos that buzz or shreik when a sensor placed on the underwear gets wet. What most families who try these tell me is that the gizmo wakes everyone in the family up—everyone, that is, except the wet child!
- Parental awakenings. The idea here is to wake up the child at a decent time, say 11:00 pm, before mom and dad go to bed, and make Junior use the bathroom. After several weeks of this, the child will start to wake himself up at that time. For this to work, you have to wake your child completely, and NOT carry him or her to the bathroom. In practice, this can be tough to do. Did I mention that these kids sleep very heavily?
- Medicines. DDAVP is FDA approved to treat bedwetting starting at age 6. But a recent FDA warning pointed out that several kids had seizures using this medication. It should never be used at times when a child is getting dehydrated or when a child is drinking lots of extra fluids. Though DDAVP has been used safely by many children, the effectiveness disappears as soon as the medicine is stopped. I only suggest DDAVP for children who are a bit older, and who themselves are getting self-conscious about bedwetting.
Certainly, at age 5 I would recommend doing essentially nothing. You can have your child participate in the clean-up (either putting the pull-up in the trash, or stripping the bed), or maybe consider parental awakening. But really, it’s best for now to wait and see without focusing on this issue as a problem.