4 Year Old Still Peeing the Bed

Updated on February 02, 2010
C.R. asks from Palmer Lake, CO
9 answers

My brother has a 4yr old daughter who recently has been peeing her bed. He thinks she is just too lazy in the morning to get out of bed. Mom and Dad are separated and Dad is on the road quite a bit truck driving. Any suggestions on how to handle the situation? Thank you for the advice.

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answers from Kansas City on

Remind him a lot of kids do not completely control their bladders until a lot older. My cousin who is now 13 was still having accidents at 10. After all some kids don't even try to potty train until 4. Simple remind him she isn't that old and that she still doesn't have complete control over her body especially if she isn't fully awake.

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answers from Jacksonville on

My son was real hard to keep the bed dry. He would wet it until he was lots older than 4. The main thing is to not make her feel ashamed of it and to make sure she is well loved. Put a rubber sheet under her top sheet so it won't ruin the mattress and just don't make a big deal out of it. Make sure her pediatrician knows about it so he can advise, if need be. She is definitely NOT the first child to do this. Good luck and God bless.

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answers from Pueblo on

If she was dry before and is wetting now I would have her blood sugars tested. My daughter was always a bed wetter but the amount increased a lot in the months leading up to her being dxed as a type 1 diabetic. Now she has had maybe 4=5 accidents in the past month and a half and those times she had high blood sugars over night.

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answers from Boston on

Hi, there~ My daughter was trained through the night for about a month between 3-4 yo. We went away for the weekend and she started peeing in her sleeping bag. We went back to pull-ups and kept trying to train her but to no avail. The doctor just kept telling me that she wasn't ready. This didn't make any sense since she had been trained for a month. Anyway, at 6yo he recommended that we try an wetness alarm. As soon as any liquid touches the alarm, it buzzes to wake the child. Happy to say that it worked in 1-2 weeks!

Here's the link to the alarm. The website has lots of valuable information on bedwetting.

One more thing: They recommend when the child wets the bed that s/he get out of bed, go to the bathroom, change their underclothes if necessary and put on new sheets. The plan is to make wetting the bed a chore. If the parents change the sheets, etc., it won't matter to the child if s/he continues to pee in bed or not as it's not totally inconveniencing them.

Good luck!

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Patients and pull-ups. Some kids just aren't able to stay dry at night by 4 - it's a physical thing more than any kind of laziness. It could be that she urinates right as she's waking up, or even just before she does. Her body may not be quite able to get her out of bed and to the potty fast enough. Bed wetting is not abnormal at 4, though it is more common in boys (my 6 year old still occasionally wets his bed).

The shakeup in family situation can make it harder - emotional stressors are definately contributor. But the more her parents push the issue (especially anything that could be perceived as anger or punishment) can make it worse or last longer.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Unfortunately, I have lots of experience being the mother of a child who wets the bed. Fortunately, it's all in the past and we have completely conquered this problem. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

It is so important not to blame the child for bed-wetting. No one likes waking up wet, and she does not do this intentionally or out of laziness. Bed-wetting is not caused by laziness. Being punitive or scolding will NOT help reduce the problem, and will only damage the relationship between parent and child and cause anxiety about bedtime. Imagine if you felt you had to perform to a standard you had no idea how to reach--while you were asleep--or face the constant disapproval of the people you love best. Talk about pointless stress! You'd never want to go to sleep again!

If your niece has been dry at night consistently for at least six months in the past then this is considered secondary enuresis and she should be seen by a pediatrician to rule out bladder, urinary tract or kidney infections. Stress can play a part in secondary enuresis, but so can erratic schedules.

If she has never been consistently dry overnight, this is considered primary enuresis and is in the range of healthy normal for a four-year-old child. The hormone that makes the body produce less urine during long stretches of sleep than it does during waking hours needs time to regulate and develop properly in the growing child. The child's bladder and urinary tract need time to mature and the child also needs time to grow into recognizing the sensation of a full bladder. It's so normal. Primary enuresis is rarely caused by stress so parents do not need to blame themselves, although reducing stress in general will allow her to focus her energy on healthy learning and growing.

At this age, the treatment is time and gentle encouragement. I experimented with mattress and sheet protectors with my son for awhile, but resorted to Pull-ups ("nighttime underwear") for reliability and less hassle.

If bed-wetting is still an issue at age 6, you can consider using a bed-wetting alarm. There are a couple of medications to treat bed-wetting, but they are not permanent cures and the bed-wetting usually resumes when the meds stop. All they do is buy you some dryness while the body matures.

We got my son's Malem brand alarm from www.bedwettingstore.com. I also got an excellent book there called "Seven Steps to Nighttime Dryness." It is current and medically accurate and I highly recommend it. You could probably find it cheap on Amazon.com.
The alarm was not an instant fix and it required a real commitment because the parent *must* get up and help the child wake up. A typical time frame for lasting dryness is about three months. We kept a log so we could see progress--two accidents gradually turned into only one, that one accident started to come closer and closer to the morning, and then it got smaller and smaller as my son learned to get up right as his alarm went off, and then, finally, even before the alarm sounded. Small steps indicated real progress and keeping track meant we did not get discouraged during the process.

My pediatrician said alarm therapy is the only proven method of conquering primary enuresis, besides just waiting for the child to grow out of it. He also discouraged me from trying to parch my son into dryness by limiting drinks--dehydration is not the same as continence!

Teaching my son to double or even triple void (use the toilet multiple times before bed to ensure a truly empty bladder) also helped us a lot. You can teach you niece to lean forward while urinating on the toilet to encourage complete emptying.

Whatever you do or whatever the specifics of the situation are, please handle it gently, even though it is frustrating.
My sincerest best wishes!

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Stress does horrible things to the body. It could be that she's stressed out over the separation & Dad being on the road, it could be that she's needing more attention & the attention she gets for peeing is better than no attention at all, it could be that she's got a urinary tract infection, maybe they've been eating later than usual & she doesn't have time to pee it all out before bed (my 6 YO still has that problem-if we eat too late there's a good chance I'm changing sheets the next morning). She could very well have regressed because of the change in the family situation. Maybe she's just cold & doesn't want to get out of her warm bed.
Are they able to both sit down with her together? Maybe the two of them sitting down with her & reassuring her that while they're not living together, they still both love her very much & that will never change, will be enough to ease some of her stress (if the peeing is stress-caused).

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answers from Cleveland on

Was she dry before? If so maybe the separation and often-absent Dad is stressing her. Just a thought.

K. Z.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

I have a son that wet the bed until he was 13. I wish I would have known that taking him to the chiropractor could have solved the problem years earlier. They discovered that everytime he laid down, his nerve telling the brain to shut off the blatter was kinked. Once they ironed this out, he didn't have another accident. Meanwhile his self esteem was ruined because he was blamed for being lazy. Even his granny that adored him cause a lot of emotional pain when he went to visit. Be sensitive and loving as you solve the problem with her.

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