By Kathleen Thorell
I knew my daughter had a small bladder when we potty trained her at age three. All my friends were telling stories of their children, the “camels” who were going hours and hours without ever having to go on the potty. This was so foreign to me. My daughter easily went to the bathroom every 30 minutes. Gradually, her bladder matured and she can now make it several hours without going.
At her four year old visit with our pediatrician, I asked about her wearing pull ups at night. She had mastered the daytime, but night time was another story. She often leaked through a pull up, too. (until I found a good fit for her- Kroger’s Nite Time Pull ups, the cheapest ones!) The doctor had no worries. He explained that eventually her bladder would mature and grow, and she would be able to make it through the night or become aware of when she had to go. Throughout her 4th year, my daughter noticed that friends and relatives didn’t wear pull ups at night…some even younger than her! It started to bother her, but she didn’t like the idea of leaking either.
A few weeks before her 5 year old check up, my daughter admitted to me that sometimes, in the wee hours of the morning, she was aware of peeing in her pull up. She chose to pee in her pull up rather than go out into the scary, albeit well-lit, hallway (Ok, maybe we need to stop watching Scooby Doo). I tried to react with understanding and encouraged her to get up and go to the bathroom. I even gave her a small flashlight to put under her pillow.
At her 5 year check up her doctor was again not concerned that she was still in pull ups. That changed when I told him about her confession. He then stated that this may be one of the rare times that a small reward system may work for bed wetting. He explained that rewards do not work with all kids because they simply sleep too soundly to know when they have to go. He also informed me that bed-wetting can be hereditary. My husband remembers having accidents until he was 7 or 8.
My daughter was actually excited to sleep in panties, but I had to get some supplies before we could start. I found some waterproof mats at Babies R Us for $8.99. They were meant for a crib and about the size of one, but they did not have the elastic sides. I wanted to be able to put the mat directly under her so that when leaks occurred, I could just change the mat instead of the whole sheet set. I bought two and hoped for the best. I also bought a pack of small toys from the Dollar Store and told my daughter she would earn one for every dry night she had.
I prepped my daughter by explaining that I would wake her up before I went to bed to take her to the bathroom (she goes to bed around 7:30pm). I encouraged her to go by herself if she felt the urge.
Results: took her to the bathroom 2 ½ hours after her bedtime (she “sleepwalks” through it); leaked at 3am; leaked at 5am
Morning thoughts: My daughter was sad to not earn a treat, but not too discouraged. I am a bit tired.
Results: woke her up to go bathroom 3 hours after bedtime…she was already soaked and sleeping right through it! Leaked 3am; leaked 5am
Morning thoughts: Again, she is mildly sad but not too discouraged. I want so badly to give her a treat for being such a trooper through the potty trips and mat, underwear, nightgown changes. I feel like I have a newborn again, getting up every 3 hours! What have I gotten myself into?
I tell her that if she gets up to go to the bathroom, I will give her a treat. Risky, but I am sleep deprived and desperate.
Results: took her to the bathroom 2 hours after bedtime (dry!); leaked 12am; leaked 4am. No self-initiated trips to the bathroom.
Morning thoughts: My daughter is exhausted! The interrupted sleep is catching up with her. I am feeling discouraged and suggest that maybe it is too soon and we go back to pull ups. She adamantly refuses and states she wants to keep trying.
Results: took her to the bathroom 2 hours after bedtime; leaked 5am.
Morning thoughts: We are both excited that she stayed dry up until 5am (she usually is awake by 6 or 6:30).
Results: took her to the bathroom 3 hours after bedtime (trying to stretch out the morning hours); leaked 5 am.
Morning thoughts: She is a tired puppy, but stubborn! I enlist my husband to have a heart to heart with her about HIS bed-wetting so she won’t feel like a failure. He never gets to that because…
Results: took her to the bathroom 2 ½ hours after bedtime; NO LEAKING!!! She didn’t get up to go to the bathroom, she just didn’t leak.
Morning thoughts: My daughter was ecstatic! I was incredulous and happy, but skeptical. Surely this was a fluke. Oh well, she loved getting her treat.
Night #7, #8, #9, #10, and #11
Results: 6 straight nights of no leaking!
I still don’t quite believe it. I assumed she would have to start going to the bathroom at night. Somehow, she retrained her bladder. I should have known my stubborn little girl would find a way to do it her way.
I am sure we will have accidents in the future, but for now we are all getting some much-needed sleep and she got a boost of self-confidence. I’d love to hear how others have tackled this issue or if you experiment with our little system.