Hey Laura, why is my 4 year old suddenly wetting the bed again?

Brandi writes:

My 4 yr old, Ryan, has been night time potty trained for about 6 months now.  Unfortunately, we’ve had a pretty big set back in the last month (not-so coincidentally, it started right around the time my second son was born) and Ryan is now wetting the bed every night—sometimes twice in one night!  I am completely frustrated and sick of washing bedding EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!  The rational side of me says that it’s probably related to the new baby.  However, the sleep deprived, new-baby-in-the-house-who-nurses-all-night-long side of me is starting to lose it!  What can I do to get Ryan back on track?  We wake him each night around 10:30 to use the bathroom, but he’s still having accidents nightly.

File this one under “Argh!” Potty regressions are one of the most frustrating setbacks. They’re also really common, particularly around age 4, for some reason (at least based on what I hear anecdotally). And of course, pottying is one of the first things to get disrupted during big emotional/psychological upheaval, growth spurts, and other major transitions.

Your rational side is probably correct: This is a phase. He’ll probably grow out of it on his own regardless of what you do (or don’t do). However, you can absolutely do things to make your life during this phase a lot more pleasant. I have some ideas.


Add another potty break
If you’re already up with the baby, try taking Ryan to pee once more around 2-3am. I still do this many nights with my 4 year old; I’m up anyway, and it seems to help her sleep in a little longer in the morning and curtails potential accidents.

Contain it
Stick him in UnderJams or GoodNites. Or if he still fits them and doesn’t object, put him back in Pull-Ups until this phase is over.

Soak it up
A slightly cheaper disposable method is to let him sleep on top of extra large Chux pads (or these tuckable ones). If/when he has an accident, you can just whip off the wet one and put a new one down - no changing sheets in the middle of the night, and no laundry the next morning.

An even more cost effective solution is something like this Waterproof Sheet Protector. Buy two and you will only be washing these instead of all the bedding.

The Laura Way
My kids sleep on sheepskin from the time they are born. I have a little single pelt for the baby stage, and a big 2x6 foot “rug” for my 4 year old (that link is to an incredible deal, by the way). They sleep directly on the pelt and here is why:

Wool can absorb nearly a third of its weight in liquid, yet is an excellent insulator even when damp. This is great when night-time diapers leak (why I love wool diaper covers!), as the baby won’t wake up with cold wet sheets. Wool is anti-bacterial, so it resists getting stinky even after being soaked with pee. It’s soft, flame-resistant, and durable.

When I had a toddler still working on night-time dryness, the big twin-sized sheepskin was awesome. If she peed, I’d just strip her jammies and put on fresh ones (which I’d laid out before bed), turn the sheepskin so the dry end was underneath her, and cover her back up. It took less than 2 minutes and could all be done by the light in the hall. I used micro-fleece blankets to bypass the wet sheet issue.

The next morning, I’d blot the pee spots with a wet rag, rub with a dry towel and then air dry until bedtime. By evening it was ready to go again, with no laundry required!

Sheepskin is definitely more of a monetary investment, but a good quality sheepskin will also last a lifetime. Cool in summer and warm in winter, it is lovely to sleep on even when it’s not being used as a sheet protector!

Are there any other survivors of night-time potty regressions out there? Any other ideas for Brandi?

Hey Laura, I think... Hey Laura, why is my 4 year old suddenly wetting the bed again?

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