The thought of bedwetting at summer camp can be a scary prospect if your child wets the bed at night. Approximately 20% of 5-year-olds occasionally wet the bed at night, around 10% wet the bed at age 7, and there are many instances of bedwetting in late childhood & early teen years.
The first thing you should know is that your child is unlikely to be the only bedwetter at camp, and the camp itself most likely has practices in place to support children who wet the bed.
If your child wants to participate in overnight camping this summer but is concerned about bedwetting at camp, here are a few ways you can prepare them for the trip.
There might be underlying medical issues, so check with your child’s doctor before committing to an overnight camp. If no issues are present, which is likely the case, they may prescribe your child medication to inhibit bedwetting, at least while they're at camp.
Speak to the camp director to give them a heads up that your child might have a nighttime accident and ask them what practices they have in place to handle bedwetting. See if you need to bring an extra sleeping bag or comforter, or if they’ll have several on hand for this situation. Occasional bedwetting is common enough amongst children that the camp will have dealt with this situation in the past, and will be able to accommodate your child.
Have an honest talk with your child about bedwetting. They might be scared, embarrassed, or ashamed and don’t know what to expect. If this is the longest they’ve spent away from home, that fear could be multiplied. Make sure they know that the camp staff will be able to discreetly help them if they have an accident, and let them know that this is a common occurrence with children their age.
Prepare for camp in advance by starting a voiding routine, where your child uses the bathroom 30 minutes before bed then again right before sleep. If they’re still wetting the bed after getting on a voiding schedule, have them wake up with an alarm in the night (around 3 AM) and use the bathroom without your help. This will get them used to waking up to pee in the night. It’s not ideal for their sleep schedule but will pay off while they’re away at camp.
A couple of weeks before camp, purchase a leakproof bedwetting mat and have your child sleep with it for a few nights to see how it works for them. These bedwetting mats stay flat and don’t bunch, making them ideal for regular beds or inside a sleeping bag, as an alternative to a bedwetting sleeping bag liner.
Take some time to go over inserting the bedwetting mat into the sleeping bag with your child, or, if this camp has bunk beds with blankets, get them used to “making the bed” with the bedwetting mat.
After dinner, your child should limit fluid intake and, if possible, stick to water. Avoiding soft drinks and other caffeinated beverages will help them stay dry throughout the night.
A cloth bag is best for storing wet clothing so that it can breathe and dry out over the week, but if your child’s worried about the smell, a scented garbage bag will work better. If they are bringing a cloth bag, they can leave it in the sun and allow the sun to deodorize and dry it naturally.
We recommend that your child has an extra set of pyjamas for every night or two that they’re away and an extra pair of underwear for each day that they’re gone. If they’re away for five days, give them 10 pairs.
If your child wets the bed frequently, have them wear diapers for this camping trip. This might feel like potty training regression, but it’ll spare them from embarrassment and the extra hassle of handling wet clothing.
Insert a bedwetting mat into their sleeping bag. The PeapodMat is a perfect backup for children who wet the bed, as it collects and holds up to 6 cups of urine, leaving the bed (or sleeping bag) totally dry. Wrap the mat around the midsection before climbing into the sleeping bag, just like you would a towel, or, open the sleeping bag as wide as it goes, and lay it flat vertically inside before zipping it back up. No one will be the wiser.
Some of the best summer memories happen at camp. There’s no reason that occasional bedwetting should stop them from enjoying this ritual. The best thing you can do is be supportive, talk openly with them, and help them to prepare for a week away from the comforts of home (and laundry). If your child feels embarrassed or ashamed, remind them that there are plenty of other children who wet the bed from time to time as well.