Developmental milestone: Nighttime dryness

Developmental milestone: Nighttime dryness

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Potty training is a major milestone for your little one. If he’s using the potty regularly and recognizing when he needs to go during the day, he probably feels very proud of himself. But nighttime is different.

In fact, it's best to think of nighttime dryness as a separate but related milestone on a potty training timeline. It's completely normal for it to take months, or even years, longer for a child's body to mature enough for reliable nighttime dryness.

Bed-wetting is common and involuntary. About 5 million kids in the United States wet their bed, including 20 percent of 5-year-olds, 10 percent of 7-year-olds, and 5 percent of 10-year-olds, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

How can I tell whether my child’s ready to be dry at night?

Unless your child has been dry during the day for at least six months, it may be too soon to expect her to stay dry at night. Signs that she's ready to try switching to underwear at night may include:

  • Using the bathroom independently during the day, without having to be asked if she needs to go
  • Consistently waking up dry in the morning
  • Waking up at night to go to the bathroom by herself or to tell you she needs to go

Trust your instincts. If your child seems like she's ready, let her try it. Be positive but remind her that it's normal to have accidents.

If your child is wetting the bed twice a week or more, she may not be physically ready to be dry at night yet. Consider going back to overnight diapers or training pants, if they still fit and don't leak, or using washable or disposable underwear designed for kids who wet the bed. Try again when she's more consistently dry in the morning.

Don't think of this as a failure. It won't cancel out the progress she's made with potty training. It'll just take the pressure off both of you, and will give your little one's body more time to mature.

Why does nighttime dryness take longer than daytime dryness?

Nighttime dryness may sound simple, but there's a lot that has to happen in your child's body before he reaches this milestone on a potty training timeline. These are physical changes, and they take longer in some children than in others. Just like the timing of his first tooth, nighttime dryness is a physical development that happens at its own pace and can't be rushed.

To stay dry all night, your child has to either sleep through the night without urinating or wake up to go to the bathroom. Both require physical development beyond what's needed to stay dry during the day.

For your child to sleep through the night without urinating, his bladder must be able to hold the urine he makes during the night. To help this happen, his body needs to produce a hormone that slows down urine production. As a result, there's less urine, but it's more concentrated. Children who wet the bed may not yet be producing enough of this hormone.

For your child to wake up to go to the bathroom during the night, his full bladder has to be able to send a strong enough signal to his brain to wake him up. At the same time, his brain must be able to control the muscles around his bladder to stop him from urinating until he has reaches the bathroom. Again, these are physical developments that happen in their own time.

Watch the video: Paediatrics- Developmental Milestones #2 (June 2022).


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