When my middle child turned 3, we made the big move of wearing underwear at night. He had proven he was ready by making it through the night for a few weeks with a dry pull-up in the morning. My excitement for him had to be somewhat tempered because my 6 year old was still having problems with wetting the bed.

Most children achieve daytime control over their bladder by age 4 with nighttime control occurring months to years after that. Bedwetting, or “nocturnal enuresis” in medical lingo, is relatively common in childhood – it occurs in 15 percent of 5 year olds. In most children, it “spontaneously resolves” (just stops), declining in incidence by about 2 to 3 percent each year with only about 1 percent of 15 year olds still experiencing it. Bedwetting is more common in boys and in kids whose parents also wet the bed.

In most cases, nothing is seriously wrong. The immature connections in the brain just have trouble registering when the bladder needs to empty. However, if your child has gone a sustained period of time with nighttime dryness and then begins to wet the bed again, something medical (like a urinary tract infection) or a social stressor (like starting school) could be the cause.

As a parent, you can help your child stay dry through the night. Steps you can take include:

  • avoiding caffeinated beverages, especially later in the day
  • limiting liquids in the hours leading up to bedtime
  • encouraging your child to void regularly during the daytime
  • promoting regular bowel habits as well to avoid constipation
  • having your child “double void” before bedtime (they go to the bathroom as usual during their routine and then one more time right before they hop into bed)
  • placing nightlights in the hallway and bathroom so that if they get up in time, reaching the bathroom will be easy and fear free
  • using thick, absorbent underwear — pull-ups should be avoided for long periods of time but are great for occasions like sleepovers and vacations.

Some more practical things to keep your frustration to a minimum:

  • Put a plastic liner along with a waterproof pad underneath their sheets so that even if you have to do a load of laundry, your mattress will be unharmed.
  • Lay out an extra pair of pajamas, and a laundry basket by your child’s bed. If they wet the bed in the middle of the night, they can strip the sheets off and change into a fresh pair of pajamas on their own; this also helps give them a sense of control over the situation.

You can also talk to your pediatrician about bedwetting alarms and whether one would be beneficial to your child.

Even worse than the constant washing of the sheets is watching your child feel embarrassed and ashamed by what is happening. Children don’t wet the bed on purpose so even though it is frustrating, do your best to not admonish or tease your child. Praise them when they do have those nights that they wake up dry and remind them that with time and patience there will be many more.

Maya Neeley is a pediatrician specializing in hospital medicine. She adores her husband and four young boys and loves spending time with family and good friends. As a child, she always dreamed of becoming a children’s book illustrator, but for now she just dreams of getting a good night’s sleep.


In March 2015, my son had his tonsils removed. After watching them grow and overtake his throat for six months, I made an appointment with the ENT even though our longtime pediatrician wasn’t convinced he needed surgery. The pediatrician took a conservative approach and recommended we wait. Though I respect her completely, I couldn’t bear the fear that my son would choke, and I hoped that without these protruding organs, his recurrent strep infections and constant coughing would finally stop.

The ENT agreed surgery wasn’t necessary, but he did recommend it. We scheduled the procedure immediately. My son did very well with anesthesia and recovery. A few weeks later, he’s not coughing much. Having his tonsils out was the right decision. While I am thankful that doctors think twice (and sometimes many times) before putting a patient to sleep and removing an organ, I am equally thankful for my mother’s intuition that told me it was time to do something about his health.

I have always believed health care should be a partnership between patient and provider. I don’t have the knowledge, training or expertise of a medical professional so I’d be a fool to think I can make decisions on my own. Our doctors (no matter how amazing they are) cannot always know what is going on inside our bodies and thus need our help in making the best medical call. (A Children’s Hospital NICU nurse has written about the huge role parents play in their newborn’s care.)

Over the past 10 years I’ve spent many hours in doctors’ offices. From infertility to miscarriage to birth, broken limbs to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gherig’s disease) to cancer (in loved ones), and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) to a hysterectomy – I’ve had my share of medical conversations that required the wisdom of amazing health care providers combined with a patient’s trust and instincts. My family has been blessed to be recipients of incredible care and I know it’s partly due to our attitude of partnership in every situation.

As parents it’s easy to slip into the mode of protector and expert when it comes to our children. We know them best and we know what’s best for them. But unless we hold their birth certificate in one hand and our medical degree in the other, we need to work in partnership with our child’s health care providers when faced with a challenging health situation.

5 keys to a parent-provider partnership in health care:

  1. Find a doctor you trust. If you second-guess your doctor or have a hard time accepting his or her guidance, it’s time to find a new doctor. (Though if you’ve tried several providers in your area and you question multiple methods, it may be time to work on your trust issues. Just sayin’.)
  2. Ask questions. A good physician should not discourage you from asking as many questions as needed to set your mind at ease.
  3. Take ownership of your family’s health. I imagine nothing is more frustrating to a hard-working doctor than a patient (or parent of a patient) who is obsessed about an issue but isn’t willing to do their part to achieve optimal health. Own your health, know yourself and be in tune with your body. And as a parent, extend this sense of ownership to your child’s health as you teach him/her to do the same.
  4. Trust your instincts. If you feel strongly about a certain method of care or feel the doctor is missing something, probe further.
  5. Be careful about what you read online. Only look to reputable websites and never replace your doctor’s advice with information you read online. If you come across something you’d like to explore, bring it to your provider and discuss it with an open mind.

I hope every future health care and surgery experience we have goes as smoothly as my son’s tonsillectomy. We were well informed, well cared for and completely prepared for the experience, from beginning to end. I know with excellent doctors and an attitude of partnership, we can face any medical situation that comes our way.

Jessica Wolstenholm is co-founder of Grace for Moms and co-author of The Pregnancy and Baby Companion books. After 15 years in the music and publishing industries, Jessica is a stay-at-home mom. She lives in Nolensville, Tenn. with her husband, Dave, and their children, Hope, 6, and Joshua, 3.



Get Outside!

June 26th, 2015 | Posted by Sydney in Parenting - (1 Comments)

   Our family just recently bought a 1930’s school house turned home on 5 acres in the country. Transitioning from a HOA suburban home and neighborhood has been interesting to say the least and as much as I’m trying to embrace my southern spirit, I’m a city girl at heart. My almost two year old … Read more


Twins are certainly a package deal. They come into the world together, and grow up together. So it’s hard for others and us as parents, to acknowledge them as separate individuals. But they are separate individuals! They each have their own quirks, their own strengths, their own talents, and their own personalities. Even though a … Read more

When Your Child Doesn

We all want our children to do well in life and for many of them it starts at an early age with sports.  There’s nothing cuter than a group of little girls and boys chasing down a soccer ball like a tiny herd of cattle, or watching your child run the bases in a tee … Read more

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