4 year old suddenly wetting the bed?

I am wondering if anyone has experiences with bed wetting. Specifically, I have a 4 1/2 year old son who has been dry at night pretty much since he was potty trained well over a year ago. Now in the past week he has suddenly started wetting the bed, usually in the early morning hours. He wakes up crying and upset that he wet the bed. I know bed wetting at this age is pretty common, but I don’t know why he would suddenly begin now when he has been dry for so long. There haven’t been any changes to his schedule or illness recently other than typical colds.

We have been just changing the sheets and having him go to the bathroom again (he is able to go more, which makes me think he starts to go while asleep and it wakes him up, and he stops himself.) I asked him about it but don’t make a big deal out of it, I don’t want him to feel ashamed.

We always make sure he goes to the bathroom before bed, and he does not drink a lot of liquids in the evenings, usually nothing after dinnertime. Should I be talking to his Dr. about this, or is this common to start wetting the bed?

I am not so concerned about the fact that he is wetting the bed, I know bed wetting is quite common for boys his age, just the sudden onset of it. I don’t want to make a big deal out of something that is just a phase, but I also don’t want to ignore a sign of something more.

IANAD or a parent.

It seems common enough to me from what my parent friends have told me. From what I have heard, all the parts do not grow at the same rate, so this can occur at any time.

A friend of mine has a daughter who had a similar problem. She eventually outgrew it and her doctor did not find it concerning after running a couple of tests. They decided to set an alarm for 3:00 am to wake the kid up to go potty and then the kid went back to sleep. Kind of a pain in the butt, but it worked for them.

Ask the doctor, they may run some tests to determine if it is based in something being wrong (a UTI or something else) or it just may be a phase.

Does he go to preschool or daycare? There could be a change there that you’re not aware of.

He does go to preschool 2 days a week. I don’t know of anything unusual going on there, and his teachers are very good at communicating any potential issues with us. Still, I will ask them if they have any input.

I know that one theory of bed wetting is that it is caused by psychological issues…I will try to have a talk with him again, but I don’t want to create an issue either. Sometimes I think if you keep asking little kids “is anything wrong? are you sure, nothing bad is happening to you” then they start to think something is wrong, even if nothing was wrong, if that makes any sense. He did have a growth spurt recently and I wonder if his bladder just hasn’t caught up yet or something (is this possible?)

My initial instinct is to buy him some good nites or whatever, and let it pass, but I tend to be more of a hands off parent in a lot of ways so other viewpoints are appreciated.

There could be something stressful, disturbing, or just thought-provoking going on at school, so yeah ask about that.

The idea of getting him up to pee in the middle of the night would probably help too. I used to do that with my kid, she didn’t even wake up for it after a few times.

Is there a younger child in the house? My son went through a jealousy phase around that age, as I think he thought my daughter was getting too much attention.

Yes, his brother is 14 months. I thought we went through that adjustment phase already, but maybe now that he is walking and interacting with him more, it is a new adjustment…

I guess it could be almost anything. Little things can build up in the mind of a 4 year old. He could be worried about some book he read, or a picture he saw or a monster or whatever too.

Has he been having nightmares? Children often suddenly start having nightmares about the age of four, and it could seem so scary that he wets himself (which would also account for his crying). I think your idea of pull-ups is good, as long as he doesn’t perceive it as being a punishment. You could tell him it’s just so he won’t be cold and wet if it happens again.

Mom of a 4 year old boy here. I think that getting him up in the night to pee is a better tactic than going with goodnights, at least at first. See if that solves it. If he still pees the bed even after emptying out during the night then it probably isn’t about having a full bladder but is something else.

Good nights - even if you sell them as underpants - are going to seem like a diaper. If your son is like mine he’s highly comitted to being a big boy.

And getting up in the night shows your son he can own this situation, he can change the outcome by his own actions. A diaper ceeds that control to you/the diaper.

Also please do mention this to your DR. A call in this situation is not unwarranted, especially if you can just get someone to talk to you on the phone about it, instead of making him go through an office visit.

Good luck!

He does have the occasional bad dream, and he always just gets up and comes into our room when that happens. After a few minutes of cuddle / soothing time, he gets sleepy again and we take him back to his bed and he does fine with that. It does not happen very often, maybe once a month or so. He has not complained of bad dreams in conjunction with the bed wetting, he just wakes up and cries, I assume because he is upset that he is wet. Last night he told me in frustration, “this is the fourth time I have wet the bed, mom!” He just seems frustrated and upset, not scared like when he has a nightmare.

Getting him up to go again at night seems like a good idea, we can easily have him go when we go to bed. I might buy a few good nites for when he spends the night at grandma’s house though, unless he really objects to them. If I can find something with a favorite character on them, I bet I can convince him to wear them. Although, I don’t want to backslide and have him wet every night either. I wonder if something is changing in his sleep pattern, maybe he is tired and sleeping more deeply or something. He has been doing some exciting activities lately, field trips at school and playtime with friends and such. He has always been a deep sleeper, and needs a lot of sleep so maybe there is something there.

I’ll talk to him some more tonight about it. Thanks for all the suggestions.

My brother finally quit having this problem when he was taken off milk. Apparently lactose intolerance has a symptom of incontinence.

Are there monsters under his bed or in the closet? I’ve talked to more than one person who wet themselves at that age rather than risk getting out of bed and being eaten by monsters. The idea seems quite silly to us, but four-year-olds are absolutely certain that these things are real dangers. “Monster spay” (either buy one of the many brands like this one or print out a new label you design yourself for a can of air freshener) and a night light might help if it’s something like this keeping him in bed when he needs to go.

On the other hand… have you talked to his doctor about this yet? Infections can occasionally cause this sort of problem too.

My son decided he wanted to start wearing diapers again. We explained that if he wanted to be treated like a baby, he would have to drink his milk out of a bottle (with nipple), be spoon-fed his other food, sit in a high chair, and spend his days in a playpen instead of outdoors. Next morning he’d decided that was all a bit much. Try spending more time with him and giving him more attention and see if things clear up. Good luck.

Our kids wet the bed for a while after being potty-trained, it lasted a few weeks and they were sleeping through the night again. I won’t be surprised if it happens again with our youngest when he gets that old. You’re definitely doing the right thing by not making a big deal out if it. I’d give it some more time before worrying much about it.

I have a 5 year old and a 9 year old and both of them experienced this. Out of the blue, after having not wet the bed for several years, each of them (around age 4 or 5) just started wetting the bed frequently. No rhyme or reason for it. They did this for a month or two and then stopped just as suddenly as they started with no special action on our part. With my son we started waking him up to go to the bathroom when we went to bed (about 10pm or so) but we stopped that long ago and I don’t think that got him over wetting the bed.

Like I said, they just stopped out of the blue like they started and there was never any noticable reason for it. Just ride it out and it will be fine.

Thanks for the ideas. I am sure he isn’t lactose intolerant. I don’t think he is afraid, he has always been fearless of the dark, even going into the basement alone to hide (something even I don’t like to do :slight_smile: )
and he does not complain about going to bed. He is quite vocal about his feelings usually, and tells us when he is afraid.

I bought some good nites on my way home tonight and gave him the choice of whether he wanted to wear one or not. He asked me “are these diapers?” and I explained that they were night time underwear, to keep his bed from getting wet. I showed him the pictures of big boys on the package, and that satisfied him and he went to bed wearing one. “So we don’t have to change the sheets” he commented. I think the production of changing the bedding was weighing on him, he seemed content to know that the bed would stay dry. I told him he does not have to wear them, it is his choice, so if he does not like them he can change to his regular underwear. He seemed fine with this. We also had him go to the bathroom about a half hour before bed, and again right before bed, so we will see what happens tonight.

I think I will just wait and see if this continues for a while, or stops. If it continues or seems to be distressing him I will give his Dr. a call. It is good to see that others had this happen at this age too.

My son is only 18 months, so I have no experience with this, but here goes anyway: did he recently turn 4-1/2? It’s my understanding (from the Ames & Ilg books, mostly) that kids go through periods of “equilibrium” and “disequilibrium,” and that these periods tend to shift at birthdays and half-birthdays (equilibrium usually being the first six months, disequilibrium being the last). I haven’t read past the 1-year-old book yet, but from what I see on parenting blogs etc., it’s not uncommon for kids to regress with things like potty training, dexterity, etc. during the periods of disequilibrium. Their brains are working on other things (frequently emotions, I think) and the physical skills they had learned are harder to hold onto.

Anyway, those books are definitely worth checking out, if you haven’t already.

That is interesting. His birthday is in July, so yes he is recently 4 1/2. I have noticed with both of my kids that they definitely seem to go through phases of marked difficulty, and then phases of relatively smooth sailing.

He was dry last night, and quite pleased about it this morning. He took the good nite off as soon as he woke up this morning, and seemed to think it was what kept him from having an accident at all :slight_smile: “These are really handy, mom!” he said.

We will see what happens tonight again.

My son who is almost 5 1/2, recently wet the bed 2 nights in a row. He has been totally trained, and had dry beds for almost 3 years! We were flustered, but come to find out he was coming down with an ear infection(his first), and also had a bad cold and fever. So it could be something to do with being sick. He went on antibiotics(which he was allergic too…long story), and after it all cleared up, he was back to normal.

I was a bed wetter as a child, and my mother said I was also trained early, and hadn’t wet the bed in years, but when my brother was born I started to wet the bed. I was also 4. They figured it was all psychological, due to the new baby. But in my case it didn’t go away until I was 11!! I am quite sure it was more a physical thing. We tried everything under the sun up to keeping me rather dehydrated at night, and nothing worked. But when I turned 11 and started going through puberty, it all stopped just like that.
For my son, we just made sure to have a waterproof matress pad on, and had him get up once during the night for a few nights. We didn’t want to jump the gun with the pull-ups or goodnights too soon.

I was beat and punished so I would hide it from them but this caused me to go to school smelling like piss but I had an older teen tell me the best thing I would ever hear . What he told me was every time I go to the restroom to ask myself am I awake or sleep even if I knew I was awake as soon as I did this I swear I never wet the bed again the very next time I was in a deep sleep and had to pee bad in my dream I went to the bathroom and im about to take a piss I asked myself am I dreaming and I instantly woke up got out the bed and went to the real bathroom and after that I never wet the bed again but what hurt me after was when I told my parents and they didn’t believe me they’d rather believe that I was choosing to not get up and go to toilet all those years Im 37 yrs old and I still love my parents but I’ve never forgave them for all the beatings I took and having to figure it out myself so just tell your child to always ask themselves are they sleep or awake and they will always catch themselves before they wet the bed and don’t worry if they will remember because it is so embarrassing that they will remember to ask the question before releasing themselves AM I AWAKE