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After reading this post about night-time training on Yahoo’s website, I wanted to share my thoughts on how some kids just can’t be night-time trained.  Our 2 year old is already training herself and our oldest child was night-trained at 20 months, but then our other children took much longer… and that’s OK!

So, many of you (when I say “many” I mean a TON!) have asked me how to help older children that are still wetting the bed, so today I am sharing an awesome tip from my friend, Kristy’s, pediatrician.

older child wetting the bed? Try this

First, let me tell you how I was amazed at how quickly I was able to  night-train our first child to use the potty.  He was very young (almost two).    It took only a few night and that was it- he never used a diaper again.   So, I assumed that they would all be this easy.

Once our second son was born, he was potty trained in three days, as well (in the daytime).    He was not quite two and I was sure that his nights would be as easy as our first child.    I was wrong. 

He had accidents every night.

Fast forward four years…  he still wet the bed.    I wouldn’t even call them accidents, because he isn’t just going once or twice. No, it is more like every few hours.  He was soaking his diaper every night.   As often as he goes in the day,  that is how often he was going at night.

Now, I have NEVER been a pull-up person (as you know from my book, I don’t use pull-ups because I have never seen a need for them.)  I don’t buy them.  So, I use full diapers at night- they hold more, in my opinion, and you can pull them down just as easily if you put them on just a tad bit looser.

Potty Train in three days

Ok… so what did I do to stop the night-wetting?     Well, our pediatrician told us that we didn’t need to worry about it until he was 8.  She said that we could give him medicine, which I was not willing to do.   She said that they could do surgery down the road, if it is still an issue, but I am hoping to help him overcome this with without medical intervention.

That’s when I talked to my dear friend.  Her daughter is the same age and is doing the same thing.  Her daughter’s pediatrician gave her different advice and I LOVE It!

Here is what I WAS doing: 
1- no drinks after dinner.
2- carrying him to the bathroom at midnight to go (or before we went to bed).

Here is the NEW advice that we are going to try: 
1- Still no drinks after dinner
2- Instead of carrying him to the bathroom, wake him up!
Have him get out of bed, by himself.
Have him walk to the bathroom, by himself.
Have him wash his hands, by himself (well- you need to stay close to your child, because they are drowsy and could fall, but they are doing the rest.

Potty training at night

Do not carry them.
 You WANT them to remember waking up to go by themselves.  In the past, so many times I would ask our son “Do you remember Mommy taking you to the potty last night?”  and he would say “No.”
This new way is different…  You want them to know what is going on.

The reason that you are waking him?   This is causing his body to recognize that he needs to physically wake up and walk himself to the bathroom.  He is creating a habit of waking up at night.  He is telling his body: “I need to wake up and go to the bathroom.”   He  is making all of the effort on his part, so his body is learning to wake up.

The doctor also said this… “IT WILL TAKE 6-8 WEEKS FOR THIS TO HAPPEN WITHOUT YOUR HELP… 6 -8 weeks to see real results (dry diapers or sheets in the morning).”

Yes, it will take some effort, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Good luck!

So, tell me… what advice have you received?  What have you been trying?

Ps- if your child has a sleepover- here is some advice to help in that area (because accidents can be embarrassing). 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. I just came across this article on Pinterest and I find it pretty helpful. I have a 6 ½ yr old daughter who, within the past few months) has started sleepwalking and bedwetting. We have no idea what started it and she is a very very deep sleeper so it is surprising to us. I am losing my mind over it!

    She wakes at least once a night, sometimes stays in bed and begins to talk, other times she gets up and stands in her bedroom and pees right in the middle of the floor (her eyes are closed, she’s asleep). Other times she walks aimlessly around the house and then just randomly pees somewhere. Tonight she went to the kitchen, sat on a chair and peed all over it then got up and was going to go back to bed.

    When you attempt to guide her to the bathroom or talk to her she does not understand or comprehend ANYTHING you are saying to her. She will not wake up fully, its like sleepwalking. She doesn’t even remember when you successfully walk her to her bedroom. The times she has soaked her mattress and sees us cleaning it the next day, she claims she doesn’t remember – then she will make a comment like “I slept against the wall after I peed so i didn’t get wet”. So now we know sometimes she DOES know she’s doing it, she just doesn’t tell anyone.

    I stop her fluid intake at 7pm (she goes to bed at 9pm) and we have been doing this since she was potty trained at age 3. If we hear her talking to herself in her sleep or moving a lot, we go in and make her go to the bathroom. But, the times she is unresponsive and just plain cannot comprehend what we are saying to her I’m assuming she is sleep walking – those are the times she just pees on the floor standing up (or doing something else). My next step is the doctor. I don’t know what else to do 🙁

    1. They told me not to worry until he was 8. I know that it is so hard to wait…

    2. My now 8 yr old had the same problem in Kindergarten. She would actually get out of bed and then not be awake enough to know what to do from there. She’d stand there in her room and pee on the floor and then she’d cry because she was distraught about it IN her sleep. Scared me to death. She got a little older and started being able to open doors which made me even more freaked out. She walked out of a hotel room one night while she was staying with her dad and stepmom. Now that terrified me. A lot. :/
      I learned to reduce her liquids toward the evening and she has to go to the bathroom right before she lays down to sleep (no exceptions) and later before I go to bed I go check on her to see if she rouses any at all when I sneak in the room. If so, I guide her to the bathroom and assist her to go potty. Also, any noises can rouse their functions to go. So maybe a fan running in the room can keep them from hearing noises that set off their need to go potty. Like when we wake up in the morning and need to go. It’s similar. I noticed that during the deep sleeps, this is the most problematic. So during her first deep sleep cycle, I try to fill those gaps with me still being up before I go to bed and then checking her before I do to insure that she is not squirming around in her sleep. Hope you find that notch that works for your household. 🙂

  2. Our 7 year old boy still wets the bed, but his 5 year old brother is dry every night. Our pediatrician also said for us not to worry for another few years. But I like the advice of waking them up and teaching them to recognize the signs that they need to go. Thank you for reminding me to do this while we are in the middle of summer – perfect time to start this.

    I DO love that the pediatrician’s are telling parents not to worry – so the days of shaming your kids because of bedwetting are far behind us – those things happened to lots of my friends growing up – and it’s so sad.

    1. yes, that is such a great point (about not shaming them, because they are embarrassed enough already. They know that they don’t want to be doing it, but can’t seem to help it.)

  3. Our paed said not to worry too. My son is 6, heavily wets overnight, has high functioning autism and honestly no desire at the moment to night train :/ His sister has been night trained since she was 3 (this time last year). Not a big enough issue to cause a fuss over yet, we might give night training a go in summer (it’s the middle of winter here now), and if I can get his father on board – complex custody issues.
    Definitely not alone in this issue!!

  4. I have a six and a half yr old who wets the bed every night. I moved to pull-ups with him because diapers make him feel embarrassed since he is aware they are used for babies, (he has a younger sister) but he is such a deep sleeper he doesn’t wake up and often also soaks through several layers of bedding (including padding meant for bed wetting). His doctor also told us that it is still normal and not to worry which I think is a good thing but sometimes I feel they are almost too laid back. I don’t want medication, but more practical advice on how to stop this cycle. He is getting to the age now that I’m afraid it will start affecting his self-esteem. I bought an alarm for bed wetting and I’m going to try that on Christmas break to see if it will help. I’m planning on sleeping in his room for a week so I can get up every time the alarm goes off and help him wake up to go the bathroom. That’s the plan for now.

  5. I have a 6 yr old son, who has been potty trained since he was 2. He was easy to train. He would even wake him self up at night to go. After about a year he started having accidents frequently and always wet the bed. I made sure he didn’t have anything to drink after supper and I started getting him up every night, and taking him to the potty. I didn’t want to put a pull-up on him, fearful that it would embarrass or discourage him. 3 yrs later and one ruined mattress, this mom is at her wits end! He is now wearing pull-ups and still wets through them on occasion.
    I haven’t tried completely waking him up. Hopefully this will do the trick! Thank you so much for your articles! I love them:)

  6. I’m clicking here from your Quick Fix for changing sheets article (fabulous advice there as well). I absolutely love the idea of waking my daughter up and having her go to the bathroom before I go to bed. Definitely will be trying that. Thank you!

  7. My son is 5 1/2. He potty trained very early and was out of diapers. Before he was two. This last year he has started wetting the bed. We wake him before we turn I. And he gets no drinks after dinner. He knows it happens and gets up and rushes in to the rest room. When I ask what happened he says he didn’t want to get up he wanted to sleep. I don’t want to resort to diapers. And I’ve done all the suggestions.

    1. Our doctor told us to just “give it time” and they will outgrow it before they are 8 years old and not to worry until then.

  8. Our pediatrician explained that the hormones help regulate urination during the night. Perhaps that is why some say 8 years old as the hormone levels begin to change (we were told it should by teen years and I read many parents say that was when it just stopped, nothing had to be done about it.) There is a difference between not waking up to urinate and wetting the bed occasionally. Couple things to keep in mind – has child ever really been dry at night? Is there any one else in the family with similar childhood experience? The reality is that you can walk or carry them to the bathroom as much as you like but their body will get there at the time it is ready. It is completely normal but doesn’t meet our expectations of normal. Once we accept that our children are growing differently rather than abnormally we can take the stress and pressure of night waking. Rather than interrupt our son’s sleep night after night for months (and not seeing any change) we realized that it wasn’t the best thing we could do for him. Not to mention the feeling he had of not being able to “be normal.” (His much younger brother trained quickly and never wore pull ups and we did nothing differently – they are physically different) best of luck to everyone!

  9. My daughter was almost 8 when I took her to a pediatric urologist because she was wetting about once a month. They recommended an elimination recognition training regimen for her as well and it worked fantastically. Every 2 hours we had to remind her to go during the day, and the same as is described here for nighttime. She has not had an accident since.

  10. My daughter is 8.5 and still wets the bed every night. I have cut her off from drinks by 7:30pm. She then gets ready for bed and goes pee at 9pm. I wake her up at 11pm and 1am and she again pees both times. When I wake her at night she gets up and walks there herself as I have been not been able to carry her for years now. Some morning she is dry but others she is wet even after going twice in the night. I took her to the doctor and she was tested for juvenile diabetes and they also did an ultrasound of her bladder and kidneys to check how they function. Every test came back normal and the doctor just suggested again limiting liquids after a certain time and even getting a calender and sticks to make the dry nights in hopes of boosting her confidence. Nothing I have tired has seem to work and it only seems to be getting worse. I am at my wits end and so is she. If anyone has any suggestions or comments I would love to hear them. Thank you

    1. Our doctor told us not to worry until they are ten years old (I just asked last week).

    2. My son is 7 1/2 and still wets frequently. Sometimes twice a night. We are on our second attempt at the alarm but not seeing much progress 🙁 We thought at first it was working but I think he just gets used to it! He is a very lazy drinker which we are trying to encourage him to drink more throughout the day as we have been told this will increase his bladder size and what he can hold through the night. We have been advised our next option is medication which really concerns me.

      1. Our doctor told us that until they were between 8 & 10, we shouldn’t worry and that SO MANY parents deal with it, but are embarrassed to say anything, so only the dr. hears the many complaints, but it isn’t something that parents talk about with one another.

  11. We were also told everything was normal when my 6 1/2 yo was still wetting the bed half the week. But I did notice it immediately stopped when we removed the foods she was sensitive or intolerant to. Just wanted to throw that out there if these strategies still don’t stop the bedwetting after a couple months. She’s 13 now and has those foods but the bed wetting hasn’t returned.

    1. OH- thank you, Tabitha! That will be really helpful to so many parents!

  12. Hello, thank you for your post. I have a 7 year old daughter who heavily wets the bed and I haven’t done a thing yet, we also do pull ups. She is frustrated about it and I try to let her know her time will come and I will help with whatever she wants.
    As a child I was a bedwetter. It was alfull and not something I wanted. Sleepovers were fun but also hard. Just wanted to tell you all to keep up your awesome attitude toward your children it really makes a difference. My mom never once got upset and always helped me out. She was very patient. It took me a long time to finally have dry nights. It was the summer after I graduated hight school and was about to leave for college. Childhood nights were rough, but the love, understanding and kindness my mom and dad showed made all the difference in the world.

    1. I was, too (& my mom was so patient & sweet about it, as well – it really helped me to not feel bad about it).

  13. My stepdaughter is 8. Pees day and night. We constantly remind her to go about every 30 to an hour. Wake her up at night. Her mother has taken her to different physicians, they have tried several different meds and have now diagnosed her ADHD. And she is not!! She is a normal 8 yr old girl that pees. She is a middle child at both homes. Her mother has gotten her one of the bed alarms and will put her in pull ups, which I don’t agree with. We are out of ideas 🙁

  14. Psh I’ve been doing this with my daughter for 6+ months (the whole wake up and make her walk to bathroom) and it has done no good.

    1. I agree. My mom woke me up and took me to the bathroom for YEARS and it didn’t help. I still wet the bed every couple nights it seems like until I was about 13 or 14. I just had to grow out of it.

  15. This is all good advice, but coming from a neurological standpoint- this is actually disturbing his neuro development!