Friday, February 1, 2008

Potty Training and Bed Wetting

At what age are kids typically potty trained?

Boys: 39 months
Girls: 36 months

Here's a question on potty training I got from a reader:

"Hi Jen,Thanks for this great blog. I was wondering if you could find out if it is normal for my newly turned 5 year old to still occassionally wet her pants. In addition, she still needs to be diapered at night. It seems that she has no nocturnal bladder control whatsoever because her diaper is soaked every morning. My son was completely diaper free by this age. Should I be concerned? Perhaps I should mention that when she was a baby she had frequent bladder infections, but reflux was ruled out. Thank you for any light you can shed on my concerns."

Peoria Pediatrician Dr. Channing Petrak said what this little girl is going through is normal. She said, "Of 5-year-olds, one in five wet the bed every night. So, it is an extremely common thing at this age. Typically, if it's just bed wetting at night I wouldn't consider it a problem at age 5."

Dr. Petrak says if the child reaches age 7 and is still wetting the bed at night, that would most likely signify a problem. She said, "Typically at age 5 it's that they have small bladders, they're neurologically mature, heavy sleepers. So, it's not really considered a problem at that age."

She said daytime wetting in a child who was previously potty trained is a problem. She said that would be a time to look for signs of a bladder infection and other medical issues. Dr. Petrak said if a medical problem like urinary reflux has been ruled out, getting the child in a habit of going to the bathroom every two hours is important. She said, "You have to encourage them to go regularly and make sure they sit in a relaxed position and empty all of their bladder."

Baby Center asks these questions for older kids who still wet the bed:

What to watch out for:If your child "dribbles" urine constantly, strains while she pees, or complains of burning or pain when she goes, she may have an infection or other health problem. If that's the case, call her pediatrician as soon as possible. You should also talk with her doctor if her urine is cloudy or pink, or if she has any redness or a rash in her genital area. These guidelines apply to both girls and boys.

It's very common for toilet-trained 2-year-olds to still wet their bed at night. Occasional nighttime wetting — sometimes as often as twice a week — is perfectly normal at least six months to a year after successful daytime toilet training is completed. If your child consistently wets the bed at night, she may have a small bladder or may not yet have developed the ability to wake up in response to a full bladder, but this problem will probably pass as she gets older.

What you can do: In most cases, the best way to handle this predicament is to treat it as something natural and unimportant. Above all, try not to put pressure on your child and don't punish her. Staying dry all night is a developmental skill that almost all children achieve in time, whether by sleeping through the night without wetting or by getting up to use the bathroom. While you're waiting for your child to outgrow bed-wetting, ensure that her mattress is adequately protected by a plastic sheet, encourage her to wear absorbent undergarments such as extra-thick cloth or disposable training pants, and urge her to get up as soon as she realizes she's damp. If she does wet herself, make sure you change both her bedding and her pajamas so her skin won't get irritated and she'll get used to sleeping in dry pj's.

What's ahead:Typically, children who wet the bed more than once a night will start to outgrow it by wetting the bed fewer times each night. They then move on to wetting fewer nights each week, with fluctuations back and forth, until they eventually outgrow bed-wetting altogether. You'll want to steel yourself for the long haul, though: At this age(2 years) , the entire process can take a couple of years.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Niccole said...

good article! I really have not had to deal with bed-wetting with my boys, in fact they have pretty much done the opposite! My older son had major issues with constipation during potty training, he just STOPPED going #2. We worked through it, but it took years, he is now 5 and finally going regularly, but we still have to remind him every day. I think it is a control issue. Luckily we have not had to deal with this with my younger son, who is almost 2 1/2 and recently potty trained. Just thought I would bring this up, and see if other parents have had the same experiences. By the way, Dr. Petrak is my pediatrician and we love her!

Enuresis Treatment Center said...

Many medical professionals misinform patients when they blame a small bladder for the bedwetting. A small bladder is actually the direct result—or symptom—of the bedwetting. Restricting fluids just causes further underdevelopment of the bladder. For 32 years, the Enuresis Treatment Center has successfully treated thousands of people from around the world who thought there was no hope. The Enuresis Treatment Center works with bedwetters to eliminate the underlying problem: The deep sleep disorder. Increasing the bladder capacity is one aspect of their comprehensive program. The Enuresis Treatment Center has put together an informative guide to understanding and treating bedwetting. This free bedwetting guide is available to download at

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