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Bedwetting: Diapers and pull-ups

Dr. D. Preston Smith
Author Dr. D. Preston Smith
Submitted 19-11-2007

The Potty Trainer

Pull-ups and diapers are controversial when discussing treatment of  bedwetting in children. It is easier to simply put on absorbent disposable diapers or pull-ups at nighttime. Some believe if the child is young, less than 5-6 years of age, then bedwetting is not a significant problem, and it is acceptable to use disposables diapers or pull-ups to avoid wet beds while working through bedwetting issues.


If a child does not want to wear pull-ups and they are willing to help with their clothing and bedding care, then pull-ups and diapers should be avoided. In general, if a child and parent are motivated to correct the wetting at night, then disposables should not be used even in the younger children. If the child has just recently potty trained, then diapers and pull-ups can be used without much hesitation. Children who have been potty trained for more than one year should not be forced to use diapers or pull-ups if they do not want to.


The reason bedwetting seems to stop earlier in children without pull-ups is not completely understood. Clothes that are wet will more likely wake a sleeping child than will a full diaper. Waking in the middle of the night to change wet clothes might “teach” or “condition” a child to wake on their own prior to wetting.


Parents that are waking to change clothes and bedding are more likely to stay focused and motivated on treating the bedwetting problem. Parents that usually rely on diapers and pull-ups are more likely to “wait” for the child to outgrow the problem. Children that desire to stay out of diapers are also more likely to work with their parents in all other aspects of bedwetting care and prevention.


Dr. D. Preston Smith


Dr. Smith is board certified and he has authored or co-authored many articles, papers, chapters, and books in Urology and Pediatric Urology. His research has been presented throughout the world. Dr. Smith’s dedication to helping children with urologic problems inspired him to establish PottyMD.