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Turn wet nights into dry ones

Some parents are daunted by the prospect of toilet training and then surprised at how easily their little one adapts to it.
However, night time “accidents” can be a setback, and cause you and/or your child some distress, which can, in some instances, exacerbate the problem, says Anthea Savage.

The most important thing to remember is that bedwetting tends to be a biological issue for toddlers. A child’s bladder may not be large enough to last a full night or his/her kidneys aren’t sending a signal to the brain when he’s asleep. These issues should correct themselves with training.

In the early stages of toilet training, consider using pull-up disposable pants at night until your child has managed to stay dry all day in normal pants. When the daily routine is firmly established, dry nights will naturally follow.

Here are some helpful tips on how to turn wet nights into dry ones:
  1. To encourage normal bladder function during the early stages of toilet training, try to put your child on the toilet every two hours during the day. This not only helps to regulate their bladder, but helps your child recognise when they need to go. You could turn this into a game by setting a timer during the day to remind them when to go. Make sure they drink plenty of water half an hour before they are due to go.
  2. Help your child recognise signs that he/she needs to use the toilet immediately, such as holding themselves or wriggling about.
  3. Make sure your child is well hydrated during the day so he/she doesn’t feel the need for a drink during the night.
  4. In the hours before bedtime, avoid food or drinks that contain sugar or caffeine; and try to give the last drink (milk or water) at least one hour before bedtime. This leaves plenty of time for the fluid to pass through the body before bedtime.
  5. Encourage your child to use the toilet directly before lights go out – and ensure he/she fully empties their bladder before leaving the toilet. Sitting on the toilet for a few minutes can relax the bladder and encourage it to empty fully.
  6. Develop a bedtime routine that is relaxing and restful to prevent bedwetting associated with stress or anxiety.
  7. Positive reinforcement is essential during toilet training, so create a reward system for each dry night and let your child know how proud you are of them.
  8. Accidents will happen and it’s important that you help your child understand this so they don’t feel ashamed or anxious. If accidents are becoming frequent, reflect on the routine of the previous day to see if there was anything you did differently that might have contributed to it; or perhaps your child’s bladder just isn’t ready to cope with a full night. Pull-up pants can help during this transition period, but remember they can confuse the child by preventing them “feeling” wet when an accident does occur. Feeling wet is part of the learning process and does require some patience from you.
  9. A waterproof mattress cover is essential during the latter stages of toilet training, when your child starts to wear normal pants in bed rather than absorbent pants.
  10. Keep a night light on for a clear path to the bathroom or keep a potty beside his/her bed until they develop full control of their bladder.
  11. During the transition period, when normal pants are worn in bed, some parents use the “lifting” process to prevent accidents. Generally, around 11pm, the parent lifts the child from their bed and sleep walks them to the toilet. Some children can wake and become fretful, while others are blissfully unaware of the process and go straight back to sleep when they’re returned to bed.
If your child is over the age of seven and is still wetting the bed, contact your doctor in case there is some underlying medical condition. Often bladder-training exercises, diet changes, therapy or medication will resolve the issue.

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