I don’t remember who told me to try it—maybe my friend, Jenny, or my girl, Betsy. Our kids were all the same age, running in the same playgroup circles, with mamas who wanted their babies out of diapers, and so we put our heads together and pulled out every pediatrician-approved suggestion/parenting book idea/old wives’ trick we’d ever heard, tossed it against the wall, and went with what stuck for each of our children. For my Mari, I chose naked potty training, where you let your kid walk around in her birthday suit, peeing and pooping all around the house like a small puppy until she figures out, “Hey, instead of doing number two on Mommy’s pretty beige carpet, maybe I’ll take a dump in that super cute bright red potty she bought me!”
Sounds gross, but I promise you it worked. In a weekend. We started on a reasonably warm Saturday in April, a few months before Mari’s second birthday just stripped her down naked and let her roam free around the house with explicit instructions: If you have to pee or poop, do it in the potty. If you pee or poop anywhere else but the potty, you’re going to clean it up because it’s yours. On the first day, she peed on the wooden floor in the hallway once—right in front of me—and pooped on my bedroom carpet later that day when I wasn’t looking. I’ll never forget the look on her face when I handed her paper towels and told her to clean it up: there she was, naked, with a pacifier in her mouth, giddily sopping up the pee until the smell hit her. That little, “Yay, I’m helping Mommy” giggle quickly turned into a, “Whoa, wait! EWA!” frown. Two more clean-ups like that and voila! Mari was potty-trained.
And I was cocky as all get-out about it.
Until it came time to teach my daughter how to stop peeing in the bed.
Getting her to stop urinating in her sleep was a whole different proposition—one that I couldn’t get a handle on and that I was too embarrassed to ask my friends about. I mean, what mom wants to tell her friends that the reason she’s a cranky, funky mess during the day is because she spends most nights doing 3 a.m. sheet changes/mattress disinfecting/pajama swaps with a can’t-hold-it-all-night five-year-old? Coming off of successfully potty-training my daughter in a weekend, I felt like a complete failure for not being able to get her to sleep through the night without soiling her bed.
I wish I would have known then what I know now, though—that I shouldn’t have felt guilty, that my daughter’s bed wetting was not only normal but naturally unavoidable. On GoodNites.com, there’s some great information and expert advice from pediatricians and moms in the thick-of-it on bed-wetting, including the fact that up to seven million kids ages 5 and older in the United States wet the bed at night, and one of the reasons they do it is because their bladders aren’t developed enough to hold urine for a full night. Pediatricians on GoodNites.com also says that some kids who wet the bed also don’t have the triggers needed to let them know their bladders are full and they should get up and go to the bathroom.
For the record, this flies in the face of what I was raised to believe. He’s going to k-i-l-l me for this, but my brother was a bedwetter and I distinctly remember my parents blaming him for the problem—calling him lazy and saying he was peeing in the bed on purpose. I promised that if my kids were bedwetters, I wouldn’t respond the way my ˜rents did, but when faced with the issue with my first daughter, I admit I didn’t really know what to do other than change the sheets and pray the girl would just, like, stop wetting the bed before she got to Yale.
Mari did eventually stop peeing in the bed. I don’t remember when it happened, it just did. It got easier when her dad, Nick, and I got proactive: We cut back on how much liquid she drank in the evening, made her use the bathroom before she went to bed and woke her up to go again before we turned in for the night—all of which was extremely helpful in cutting down on the amount of times she woke up wet. And then, before we realized it, she wasn’t doing it anymore and the precautions weren’t necessary with plenty of years to spare before her freshman year at college!
Thank God. Because peeing the bed at Yale would NOT have been the business.
Not at all.
So you know: I recently partnered with GoodNites® to write about my family’s experiences with bedwetting as part of the company’s campaign to spread the word about dealing with nighttime accidents. Yes, I’m getting a check for this. No, they’re not paying me to say nice things about their product. As always, my experiences and opinions are my own.
Flickr credit: Janineomg for Creative Commons
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.