When Will My Toddler Stop Wetting the Bed?

Little girl lying on bed with eyes closed
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Question: When Will My Toddler Stop Wetting the Bed?

A parent asks: "My son is almost 3-years-old and is completely potty trained. The only problem I have is that he still wets the bed at least a couple of nights a week. When will this end and what can I do to get him to stop? Should I punish him when he wets or give him rewards for staying dry? I'm about at the end of my rope."

Answer:

Bedwetting in toddlers can be pretty frustrating, especially when you've got daytime accidents down to zero.

You should know, however, that bedwetting is perfectly normal at this age. In fact, you should know that it's perfectly normal well beyond your son's age. According to Pediatrics Guide Vincent Iannelli, "The average child doesn't stop wetting at night until he is at about 4 or 5 years old."

So, while it may feel like your child should be able to control this aspect of his life, it is an unrealistic expectation. Take hope, though, because only about 15% of children are still wetting the bed at 5 years of age, Iannelli says. Those are pretty good odds and you just have to hold out a little bit longer.

In the meantime, you can alleviate some wet nights (but not all) by:

  • waking your child up in the night to go to the bathroom (especially if he is a heavy sleeper)
  • easing up on nighttime beverages (no use adding fuel to the fire)
  • making sure your child goes potty before bed (make that the last part of your bedtime routine)

    You can also make clean-up easier and less stressful for all involved by using a diaper or disposable training pants like Pull-Ups at night or by double-sheeting the bed. This is done by putting down a protective cover first, then a fitted sheet, then another protective cover and another fitted sheet.

    If your child wets the bed, you can just take the top layer of sheet and protective cover off the bed, change pajamas, wipe down with a washcloth or wet wipe and be right back to bed. If your toddler wets the bed multiple times each night, use as many layers as necessary.

    I do not advise either punishments for wet nights or rewards for dry nights since this is something that is out of your child's control. I would liken it more to a child learning to walk rather than a behavior. You wouldn't punish him for falling down, but instead would help him get up, comfort him and help him as he tries taking another step. Do the same when it comes to wetting the bed. Punishing him isn't going to make him stop wetting the bed and it's just going to make him feel bad about himself. Likewise, rewards aren't really going to affect change, so keep that tool in your box for a behavior that really warrants it.

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