Children's Health & Development

My child is 6 years old, and is still wearing diapers to sleep at night. We tried waking him at night to pee, but he urinates again after that. What should I do?

What the Expert Says

By Wendy

Director at Josiah Montessori Preschool

Licentiate with Trinity College of London (LTCL) and Diploma in Preschool Education

Over 20 years’ experience in Montessori Methodology & Musical Arts Form

Over my past 20 years in the early childhood industry, I observed that it’s normal for some children up to 5 years old to still require diaper for the night as they’re unable to control their bladders or have strong enough signals to wake up to clear their bladders. By 6 years old, this habit should be weaned off, but some children do experience bed-wetting until much older up till 15 years old and it could be due to neurological reason.

It may be due to Anxiety

Before we decide that it is a neurological issue, first rule out anxiety, diet and medical factors. Are there major changes at home or is school causing your child anxiety? I recalled a child in our school who had not wet himself at the age of 4, urinating in bed again at night for a period of time when he was 5. Upon observation and collaboration with the parents, we noticed that this may be due to the child’s favourite teacher leaving the school for another employment. He didn’t settle well with the new teacher and always felt tense in class. We worked with the new teacher to pay more attention on him and win his trust. The situation improved thereafter.

It may be due to Diet

To rule out the diet factor, ensure that your child doesn’t take soda drinks as such drinks may contain caffeine which would not help in bed-wetting situations. Ensure that your child has his water or milk 2-3 hours before bed and let him visit the toilet before he sleeps.

If the condition persists a few days and your child complains that there’s pain around his lower left abdomen or difficulty in urinating, please bring him to a doctor immediately to rule out possible urinal tract infection or other kidney conditions.

It’s not his Fault

Whatever factor it may be, the parents’ role is not to be stressed or upset with the child. Often, the child doesn’t know why he wets the bed at night and he feels absolutely helpless. Hence do not put pressure by showing your displeasure or administer punishment as this will worsen the situation.

This is the time to exercise understanding and patience while waiting for a permanent solution. You may want to invest in a mattress with plastic protector so that it makes changing the sheets in the middle of the night easier. Your love and patience can definitely help your child.

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