A lot of parents can relate to the dread and anxiety…
Your kid is begging to have a sleepover with friends. They’re old enough and responsible enough to handle it, there’s just one problem.
They still wear a diaper!
Bedwetting is a common problem and one that affects kids of all ages.
According to the American Association of Pediatrics, five million children aged six and older in the United States wet the bed regularly. Not to mention, plenty of toddlers and kids under six may have mastered potty training but have difficulty holding it in all night.
Those that wet the bed may wear a diaper, pull-up or some other form of absorbent underwear at home.
But what about sleepovers? Can a child go to a sleepover or spend the night away if they wear a diaper at night?
Yes, a child can go to a sleepover if they still wear a diaper — however, you’ll need to address the diaper and bedwetting issue in some way. The easiest thing for younger kids is just to be honest with the host parents and your child’s friends about the need for a diaper… chances are many of them still struggle with bedwetting themselves!
For older kids worried about teasing or bullying, there are discreet options available like absorbent pajamas that can be worn over night. You may also consider dropping your child off for the sleepover but picking them up late at night before bed, with an excuse like needing to be somewhere early in the morning.
Every child is different and the answer to this will depend very much on their unique situation. While wearing a diaper at a sleepover may be fine for some kids, there will be better options for others.
Let’s take a look at what you need to know to prepare, and a few strategies you might want to employ on the day or night of the sleepover.
How common is bedwetting in kids?
The medical name for wetting the bed is nocturnal enuresis.
Social stigmas can prevent kids from talking about it with their friends, so oftentimes, they don’t realize just how normal it is for kids to wear a diaper or pull-up at night.
Studies show that bedwetting effects:
- 8 to 20% of 5-year-olds
- 1.5 to 10% of 10-year-olds
- 0.5 to 2% of adults
Despite bedwetting being so common, it can cause a quandary for parents who might not know the best strategy to take when it comes to sleepovers.
Can your child have a sleepover with a diaper?
While children can go to a sleepover with a diaper or other type of protective underwear, they (and their parents) may worry about them being teased.
If your child would prefer to keep their bedwetting secret at a sleepover, solutions to consider may include discreet absorbent pajamas, sleeping bag liners or medication to prevent bedwetting (consult a pediatrician).
For your child to have a successful sleepover with a diaper, they would need to be comfortable with it, as would everyone else at the sleepover, including their friends and the adults who will be present.
If it’s a sleepover at a grandparents house, you’re not likely to run into many issues, as your child can probably wear their diaper just as they do at home.
You’ll just need to make sure that grandparents are aware of the situation and know whether they would be expected to help the child with cleaning and changing themselves or not.
A sleepover or camp with other kids can be more problematic because there’s a chance that your child may be teased or bullied once their friends find out that they wear diapers at night.
Depending on the age of the child, and how they think that their friends will react to them wearing protective underwear, there may be several strategies to consider.
Choosing the right strategy for sleepovers when your child still wets the bed
When your kid receives their first invite to a sleepover or camp, the first thing you should do as a parent is speak to your child and ask whether they would feel comfortable with their friends knowing that they sometimes wet the bed.
Strategy one: Be open with everyone
If your child is very young, they’ll likely have no problems with their friends knowing that they wear a diaper.
Kids under five generally aren’t too concerned with what others think of them and they will be more likely to accept nighttime accidents as a normal part of life.
In fact, most of their friends likely still struggle with night time peeing as well!
If this is the case, then you should be sure to speak to the adults who are hosting the sleepover, to make them aware that your kid wears a diaper at night. If your child needs any help changing or it’s possible that they would have poop accidents as well as wetting, then you’ll need to ask if the adults are okay to assist with this or not.
For older children and teenagers, if they have the confidence to be open with their friends and their friends are understanding, then great.
Your child can stick to their normal nighttime routine and wear the same protective undergarments that they do at home.
Strategy two: Hide the bedwetting from friends
If your child wants to go to the sleepover, but isn’t comfortable with their friends knowing that they wear diapers at night, then one option is to find ways to keep it secret.
Rather than wearing a regular diaper or pull-up which may be bulky and hard to hide, there are some alternatives that offer more discrete protection.
Absorbent pajama pants
One option to consider is bedwetting shorts or pajama pants.
These look and feel just like real pajamas, but they’re super absorbent. You should make sure that your child also has a plastic bag to discreetly put the pants into when they get dressed in the morning.
Waterproof sleeping bag liners
A waterproof sleeping bag liner may be another option to consider.
You may also want to pack two identical pairs of pajama pants so that your child can discreetly get changed without anyone knowing what’s happened if they do have an accident.
Bedwetting in children aged five and over can be stopped by using a drug called Desmopressin.
This works immediately, so it can be used as a one-off solution for sleepovers or as a long term treatment. If this option sounds interesting you should speak to your child’s doctor for more information.
Strategy three: Avoid the sleepover
If your child would prefer not to go to the sleepover because they are worried about being teased, then that’s okay.
Reassure them that it’s their decision and that they don’t have to stay away from home until they feel that they’re ready too.
Your child may want to think of an excuse as to why they can’t go, or you could help them to come up with a way to reply. They may even just want to say ‘My mom won’t let me’, without going into why.
(It’s OK to be the bad guy sometimes to protect your kid!)
Another option to consider, rather than missing out on all the fun, may be for your child to attend the sleepover, but to go home at around 10pm.
You could use the excuse that they have to be somewhere early the next day. That way, they still get to enjoy most of the activities.
A fun alternative to a sleepover could be a daytime camping trip. Put up a tent in the garden and invite your kids’ friends over to make a campfire, eat snacks and do all the things that they would do on an overnight camping trip.
What about kids who only wet the bed occasionally? (Prevention tips)
If your child only wets the bed on occasion, maybe once a month or so, then you might not want to bother with a diaper, special protection or medication, and instead just hope that it will be a dry night.
There are some tactics that your child can use to make nighttime accidents less likely to happen and to keep things discreet when they do.
Time drinks right
It’s a myth that limiting fluid intake will stop bedwetting.
In fact, drinking too little could actually make the problem worse.
Instead, you should encourage your child to have six to eight drinks during the day to ensure that they’re well-hydrated, but to have the last drink at least two hours before bed.
Water-based drinks are best. Anything with caffeine like soda, coffee and hot chocolate should be avoided as these are diuretics and they will make kids pee more.
Set an alarm
If your child has a cell phone, get them to set a discreet or quiet alarm on it for a couple of times in the night.
Then, they can get up to use the toilet before sneaking back into bed.
Keep a bottle of water by the bed
Your child could keep a bottle of water by the bed. In the event that they wake up wet, they could tip the water on to the bed and pretend that they spilled it.
It would be a good idea to bring their own sleeping bag to prevent any pee getting onto other people’s bedsheets.
Nighttime bedwetting is a common issue and not something that children should ever be ashamed of, although it’s normal to feel self-conscious.
Wearing diapers or absorbent underwear at night is often a good solution at home.
While this can also work for sleepovers, exploring some other strategies for nights away can keep your kid comfy, safe, and confident during a sleepover.
When in doubt, avoid the sleepover altogether or simply allow your child to attend for the evening but come home before bed. Before you know it, the bedwetting phase will be over and your kid can enjoy sleepovers for years to come!
Before you go, check out more posts with advice from veteran parents like:
- Why is my toddler cranky after daycare?
- Can a child start kindergarten in diapers?
- Training pants vs pull-ups explained
- What are your parenting instincts?
Hope this helps!