Nocturnal Enuresis

My charge is 5yo and she still wets the bed. We've tried many things to help her: no drinking 2 hours before bedtime, setting an alarm in the middle of the night, reward chart, etc. Unfortunately, I think MB is starting to get frustrated and I'm worried it could stress the little girl out even more.

I know what this feels like. I wet the bed until I was around 9yo, but only realized when I got older and into therapy, it was from being molested by a family member. However, I'm pretty sure that isn't what's going on here as I'm a live-in and know who this child comes into contact with. Her parents separated about a year ago, so it could be emotional. I just wish I knew what to do or say. I need to intervene before MB says something damaging to her personally. A comment she made to me the other day was incredibly upsetting. MB threatened to "hang her daughters pissy sheets out in the front yard", thinking it would embarrass her enough to stop. I had to walk away and cool off before saying something and losing my job.

I don't know if anyone can advise me, maybe I just need some words of encouragement. I feel so horrible for this sweet little girl. Help? - Anonymous


Bed wetter til I was 7 said...

It may be physical. Some kids have bladders that don't grow at the same rate as their bodies or appetites. So they wet the bed. Cutting off drinks before bed has been proven to be ineffective. The mom needs to get over it. Get her some Goodnights. They are like pull ups for bigger kids. You say she still wets the bed? So this has been an issue since she was potty trained? Or had she stopped and then it started up again after the separation? Regardless, you are right. Embarrassing her will not make it stop. Shaming her will only cause more problems. Maybe do some research online and print some information off for her?

♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

OP ~

I am so sorry to hear about what happened to you in your past as well as what your charge is experiencing now.
I am not sure how much you are willing to disclose to your MB, however if you are willing to disclose what happened to you, I think it might help her in dealing w/her daughter. It may give her a different perspective on things and perhaps she can address the underlying issue w/counseling for her daughter.

She may just be uneducated in this area. Many parents are. I know I was. I used to get so angry when my kids wet the beds as kids...I never realized it could have emotional ties.

Good luck.

MAnanny said...

Is she drinking alot during the day and going to the bathroom alot? If so, I would get a DR to check her blood sugars for diabetes, or a kidney problem. My then 9 yr old was doing the same with the end result being type 1.

CanadaNanny said...

Sometimes it takes longer for some kids to learn bladder control overnight. I wet my bed until I was 10ish years old and it was simply because my nervous system had not matured enough to signal to my brain to wake me up when I had a full bladder. I grew out of it slowly between 9-11 years old. It's possible she just sleeps so soundly she doesn't get the signal from her brain to wake up! Try goodnights underwear and explain to her that it's no big deal. I'm sure you could find some children's books at the library about wetting the bed. You can read those to her and talk about how people learn things at different times. Some children talk at 1, some at 2. Some kids read at 4, some at 6. It's the same thing with holding your bladder overnight...everyone does it at a different time. Also, you could teach her to strip her own wet sheets off her bed. Not as a punishment, just as a way to help out (just like putting her own dishes in the dishwasher or cleaning up her own toys). My mother taught me to strip my own sheets when I was about 5, then by 7 I could fully make my own bed. It made me feel better/more in control. Good luck!

Bethany said...

Sometimes it takes kids a little while to gain bladder control, and getting angry with them especially when the incidents are not intentional is ineffective and damaging. Strongly encourage mom to be patient.

1. Has she spoken to the pediatrician about this? It's possible there could be a physical problem that is causing the wetting.
2. Short term suggest the nighttime pull ups a waterproof spread to go under the sheet,and have the girl pee right before going to bed.

RBTC said...

thank God the little girl has you! keep us posted

CleaverJune said...

When I was young, my siblings had the same bed wetting issue. For them, it turned out to me an issue of not having enough of the chemical/hormone that would wake up the child to signal that they had to "go." That is fairly common from what I remember. Different parts sometimes grow after in kids than others, like the bladder, and just needs some time to catch up. For my sister, she ended up getting a prescribed nasal spray containing a little bit of that natural "thing" that she just wasn't making enough of yet. She grew out of it.
As previously stated by someone else, it can also be a sign of another medical issue, such as child onset diabetes. Please encourage mom to see a medical doctor to rule out a physical reason for this problem.

I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with this.... And the little one too.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

I think the very first step is a trip to this child's pediatrician, so that physical issues can be ruled out, and then you'll need to hope the Doctor advises the mom on what is and is not helpful.

There are many methods that can help cope with this problem, and I think they've been covered above. Hope your MB gets a clue. :-(

MissMannah said...

I agree with the others, consult the pediatrician and if everything's ok, just wait it out. I was about 10 or 11 when I stopped wetting the bed and I know my parents were frantic. My mom got to the point where she would set her alarm and wake me up multiple times a night to make me go pee. It didn't work, I just had to outgrow it. But now I am a very light sleeper and I attribute that to paranoia over wetting the bed.

As for your MB, you need to tell her to cut it out. She is emotionally abusing her daughter. Maybe find an article about older kids wetting the bed and show her?

nycmom said...

I agree with CanadaNanny. Nighttime bladder control is much more physiological and related to neurological development than daytime potty training. Kids have less conscious control over it. Stress can definitely play a role (though it is rare), but if we take that out of the equation many kids just take longer to learn nighttime training.

Is she wetting the bed every night? Occasional bed wetting at 5yo is not a big deal at all IMO. Of my 3 kids, my daughter was fully trained by 4yo. My older son still had occasional accidents (about once a month) until 9yo. My newly 5yo son still wets the bed about every 2-4 weeks.

We just have waterproof mattress covers, sheets/covers we can easily launder, and do a nighttime bathroom trip right before the last one to go to bed. We literally carry him while he is asleep at 12-1am and hold him up (he much prefers to pee standing). The trigger of standing in front of the toilet with his undies down seems to naturally evoke the urge to go for him and he will pee while half asleep. Then we lay him back down and he falls immediately to sleep.

I also agree with a peds visit, if only to reassure mom and provide some ideas. But bed wetting at 5yo is not a big deal in the vast majority of cases. Waiting is the best option. Reward charts are nice, but do nothing to help the condition. Bed alarms are the best non-pharmacological option. And you were given lots of other great ideas above. However, again, I really would not be too concerned at 5yo.

Village said...


Seriously, this has to be gotten off the child's back.

My BBF wet the bed into her teens, as did both her children. She put a W/D in the hall between her children's bedrooms, and put plastic on their mattresses. In the morning, the bed linens, as a matter of course, were washed, the plastic covers wiped down, and the beds remade. The children did it themselves as soon as they were able. No mention was really made of it. And finally, the children stopped.

Whatever is causing this, the real problem is the reaction. Mom needs to leave the work to the nanny, and the nanny needs to pick up the toys and keep the bed dry. Same thing. No biggie.

The mother is po'ed about the dirty linens. She can leave them for the nanny, and force herself to put clean linens on twice each weekend, or get a weekend nanny.

Modern Momma said...

Diapers. Some big kids need them at night. No big deal.

Jessi said...

its actually not considered abnormal for kids to be bed wetters until they are 7 years old. Something about the chemical that stops you from wee-ing while you are asleep.

Anyway I used to sit for a family where two of the kids hit 7 and were still bed wetting. There is a way to treat it, other than waiting for the child to grow out of it. Basically its a special sheet that sets off an alarm the instant its wet. So you pop the kid in bed, he/she will wet the bed and the alarm goes off. Usually the kids are deep sleepers and it can take a few weeks. But the basic psychology of it is, wee-ing at night = waking up. So after a few weeks the child will wake up when he/she needs to wee.

I would ask the mother why if it bothers her so much she doesn't just pop the kid in pull ups/ nappies for night time. "it seems to really upset you when you have to change X's wet sheets, have you considered putting her in night nappies till her body is able to keep her dry through the night - it will mean less work for you!"

NYC sitter said...

What time does she go to bed? What I usually do with my charge is this (same as NYC mom): let's say she falls asleep at 9pm. At 10:30/11pm, I put her on the toilette, holding her. She goes and then I put her back to bed. She never wakes up while on the toilette and she goes automatically!With this trick, no more accidents. I suggest you do the same with your charge right before you go to sleep...hopefully it'll work!

op said...

I'd like to thank everyone for all of their wonderful advice. I took a deep breath (hoping MB wouldn't get mad at me) and shared with her the advice all of you gave. She seemed really receptive. I did offer to start changing the sheets for her so hopefully that'll cut down on some of the frustration. She really is a nice MB otherwise, I'm not sure why this problem bothered her so much, but thanks again! - OP