It's common -- normal, in fact -- for children to wet the bed long after learning how to use the potty during the day. In fact, AskDr.Sears.com, founded by well-known pediatrician William Sears and his pediatric nurse wife Martha, points out that nighttime dryness is usually the last potty training skill learned, simply because the bladder muscles are more difficult to control than the rectal muscles. This means your child's mattress is going to take quite a beating during the night until he masters this final step of potty training. Rather than going out and buying a new mattress every week or so, it's a much smarter, and much more affordable, idea to protect your child's mattress.
Vinyl Mattress Covers
Vinyl covers have one big thing going for them: they're waterproof. No liquid is going to seep through and ruin your child's mattress. The downside to these types of mattress protectors is they aren't breathable, says the Protective Bedding Store, which won't be comfortable for tykes who get a little hot at night. In addition, the slippery, noisy nature of vinyl may disturb a restless sleeper. Vinyl covers are available as either a ground sheet or an entire mattress cover that zips up. They're the most affordable form of mattress protection and the easiest to wash.
Absorbent Mattress Covers
Absorbent mattress covers have the advantage of being soft, breathable and quiet, says the Protective Bedding Store. How effective they are at keeping your child's mattress dry depends on the thickness, absorbency and quality of the material. Some mattress pads have a thin layer of vinyl in the middle which not only makes the pad waterproof, but, because of the layers of absorbent cloth, significantly reduces any sounds the vinyl produces when your child moves. Washing is easy: just remove the cover and toss it into your washing machine.
Saddle Mattress Pads
Not everyone wants to have to cover the entire mattress to guard against the occasional nighttime accident. For these parents, there are saddle mattress covers. These are essentially just a band of absorbent fabric that fits around the middle of your child's mattress, providing protection right where it's needed. They tuck in on either side of the mattress on top of the ground sheet, rather than under. Many brands feature a layer of vinyl that allows the pad to hold up to 4 cups of liquid.
A Few Nighttime Tips
Don't worry, the time will come when you can give that mattress protector a toss for good. The first step is recognizing when your child is ready to stay dry at night, says the Better Health Channel. If he has frequent accidents, you may want to consider putting him in training pants until he begins waking up dry on a regular basis. When he does, make sure he can get in and out of bed easily, that his clothes are easy to pull down and he has a nightlight to help guide him to the bathroom. You may even want to think about putting a potty chair next to his bed if he has trouble getting to the bathroom on time. Remind your child to use the bathroom before he goes to bed and when accidents do happen, don't punish him. He isn't doing it deliberately.