Should you wake your child to pee at night?
A popular technique used by parents to avoid their child wetting the bed is to wake up their child to go to the toilet at night (also known as ‘lifting’). Some parents set timers throughout the night to wake up their child for multiple trips to the toilet. The aim is to reduce wet beds and hopefully cure bedwetting.
Whilst this can be helpful for a few children when transitioning from nappies and it can help keep the bed dry, it’s generally not useful for chronic or older bedwetters. It usually doesn’t help the child learn how to stay dry in the long term.
However, it may help some parents because their child is less likely to wee the bed that night.
Why waking your child to pee at night doesn't work
When your child gets used to being woken up to go to the toilet, they don’t develop the bladder-brain communication that’s needed for them stay dry every night. You have effectively taken control of the bladder away from your child.
In addition, when you do this, the child’s bladder might not be full, so they don’t learn to recognise the feeling that the bladder needs emptying, and they need to get up to go.
Many parents wake their children around the same time every night, just before the parent goes to bed. This can set a pattern where the child learns to go at that time, whether they have a full bladder or not. Eventually, when parents stop taking them to the toilet, they may continue to wet the bed at this time.
A lot of children are still partially or fully asleep when lifted to go to the toilet, and often don’t remember being taken to the toilet. So they aren’t learning how to wake themselves up to go, or, learning how to hold on.
The child’s brain and bladder have no reason to build communication if you are lifting your child, so it is possible that waking your child to pee could prolong the bed wetting, rather than solve the issue.
Waking your child to go to the toilet can affect sleep
Having a good night’s sleep is essential for all children, however, for bedwetters, getting sufficient sleep is crucial. If you wake your child to go to the toilet at night, you will significantly disrupt their natural sleep cycle. As a result, your child will find it harder to wake up to any sensations of a full bladder. Therefore, waking your child to pee may be counterproductive to becoming dry at night, and may additionally lead to a very tired and grumpy child, on top of all the stresses of bedwetting.
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What do I do instead of waking my child up to pee?
There are several practical steps you can take to minimise bedwetting:-
- Get a medical check-up to rule out any underlying heath issues
- Ask your child to go to the toilet at least twice before they go to bed
- Additionally, make sure the child is well hydrated throughout the day but restrict fluid intake 1-2 hours before their bedtime
- Ensure your child gets a regular amount of good quality sleep (including at weekends)
- Learn what can contribute to, or cause, wet nights. The more you understand the different aspects to bedwetting, the more you can help your child
- Talk to your child about how the brain and bladder work, and especially how they need to communicate
- Another key point is to make sure they aren’t suffering from constipation
- And finally, find a bedwetting solution that is right for you and your child
While it is understandable that some parents choose to wake their child up to wee, and it does work for some families, it is particularly important to consider that in the long term, it doesn’t usually train the child to stay dry and it might prolong bedwetting. It doesn’t allow the child to build the essential communication between the brain and bladder needed for dry nights.
If your child is between six or over and wetting the bed most nights, it is time to find an alternate solution that suits your family and produces lasting results..
As bedwetting is such a hidden issue, it would be helpful to other parents if you could share your stories. Leave a comment below about your experiences and if this article helped you. Have you lifted your child to take them to the toilet at night? Did it help?
Hi! I’m Ginny! I specialise in helping children learn how to stop wetting the bed.
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Stay Dry at Night is a breakthrough bedwetting program that aims to build communication between the brain and bladder so that your child wakes up to go to the toilet or stays dry all night.
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