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Adult bedwetting is not as uncommon as you’d think. Apparently it’s a huge market. There are bedwetting diapers for adults, alarm clocks designed to wake you up at night to go to the bathroom, and other things designed to help you stop bedwetting from happening.
Sometimes bedwetting due to mental illness or medical reasons is a life long occurrence. Therefore, if you’re one of the hundreds of bedwetting adults out there, do not despair, you’re not alone!
Older Bedwetting: Why and Where To Start
Your older child, teen or adult may not have the ability to feel the body signals that they need to wake up and get to the bathroom on time. In fact, some children may sleep so soundly that even after they have wet the bed, they may sleep through the rest of the night without any feelings of discomfort.
Things Most Parents Try
Most moms start talking to other moms to find some solution to keep their child dry at night, by settling into some sort of routine, like:
- Cutting off fluids at a certain time each evening.
- Making sure that the child goes to the bathroom right before bedding down.
- Some moms might even wake the child about an hour after bedtime and make them try to empty their bladder one more time before trying to get through the rest of the night.
If you’ve visited your child’s Physician and they have ruled out any underlying medical issues, I would recommend starting with “Bedwetting and Accidents Aren’t Your Fault: Why Potty Accidents Happen and How to Make Them Stop”. This book has a great success rate. You can read the reviews here.
Bedwetting Beyond The Norm
There is a small cluster of children who fall into the category of bedwetting beyond the norm. These children can keep wetting the bed up until the age of 7 or 8. In some cases, children can continue to have an issue up into adolescence.
Needless to say, this is frustrating for parents and embarrassing for the child who has no control over the problem. Let’s face it, no typically functioning teenager is going to purposely wet the bed to frustrate mom or dad.
Why Use Cloth For Older Bedwetters?
Because of advertising for adult diapers, most of us would automatically assume that disposable diapers are the only option. This is not the case. In fact, a quick search on the web will instantly reveal dozens of options for cloth/reusable diapers older children, adolescents, and adults.
There are several reasons why cloth is a preferred alternative to disposables for the older child to adult population.
Cloth Diapers Are More Comfortable
Comfort is a primary reason for opting to use cloth diapers. It is embarrassing for older children, adolescents and adults to admit that they have an issue with incontinence in the first place. Adding a disposal diaper to their embarrassment adds to the frustration and humiliation that they may already be experiencing.
While researching this topic, one teenage girl that I read about expressed how absolutely mortified she was when she finally accepted an invitation to a sleepover and brought attention to herself when she moved and the other girls heard the crinkling of the diaper under her pajamas. Imagine how she felt when she was questioned and then suffered through all of the teasing and commentary. Chances are, she will never attempt a sleepover with friends again.
Cloth diapers are the closest option for underwear. Of course, they are thicker due to the added layers for absorbency- but for the older child this can help them feel as though they are leaving the baby stage and moving into becoming a “big kid”. Especially if the cloth option is a pull-up style rather than a diaper style with tabs. These things need to be considered because how an older child or adolescent feels about their personal issue may affect how quickly they can overcome it.
Generally speaking, if an adolescent is still having problems with bedwetting there should be some conversation with your pediatrician to rule out any underlying health issues that could be causing the incontinence.
But if there are no underlying issues, and this is just a hereditary issue (mom or dad were older bedwetters into late childhood or adolescence), or the incontinence is related to neurological or physical limitations, the goal here is to make the child, adolescent or adult as comfortable as possible. Cloth diapers are typically more comfortable.
Cloth Diapers Are A Cheaper Option
Another reason to opt for cloth diapers is cost.
The bigger the diaper, the more that they cost. Just glance at the pull-ups for toddlers next time you visit the grocery store and think about the cost over a year or two while your toddler is night training.
Now imagine that expense for seven or eight years and beyond. The numbers are mind-boggling.
For a fraction of that cost, you can buy a stash of cloth diapers that you launder on your own or hire a diaper service for. Obviously, washing them at home will be a cheaper option. But the point here is that cloth diapers are washable and reusable and are going to be the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly option for older bedwetter who may require them for years beyond the typical child.
Also, older children, adolescents, and adults don’t typically have bowel movements at night. So, these cloth diapers for overnight and bedwetting are going to contain urine primarily which is a little less work than dealing with babies and constant bowel movements. While chronic bedwetting can be frustrating, at least there is this consolation- and sometimes you just have to appreciate the little things.
Concerns With Cloth Diapering Teens or Adults
There are some things to consider when using cloth diapers for bedwetting.
The volume of urine is going to be much higher than it was when your child was a baby or a toddler. They are bigger and so is their bladder. You need to keep this in mind when choosing a cloth diaper for your older bed-wetter. If you are using them for an adolescent or an adult this would obviously apply here, too.
As a result, with a higher volume of urine, you are also going to deal with increased chances for skin irritation from the acid in the urine.
Consider looking into a skin protectant (creams or ointments) to apply before night time diapering. I highly recommend “Calmoseptine Ointment“, it’s what my mom’s home health aid used to prevent bedsores when my mom became bedridden.
You can teach your older children to apply it to themselves to ease the embarrassment if they are physically able to do so. If they are not, you should still apply it for them so that there is little to no chance of further discomfort beyond what they already feel from being required to wear a diaper.
It should be mentioned here that some times pull up style cloth diapers are not the best option. If you have a child that is wheelchair-bound, or an adult who is confined to bed, the best option at that point will most likely be a diaper that you can apply and remove easily as a caretaker.
It would be extremely difficult to pull a diaper up and down from a full-grown adult who is confined to bed. It would be especially difficult if the full-grown adult has a bowel movement in the diaper.
In these cases, it is far easier to have two people to help change the adult by lifting the person up out of the soiled diaper, cleaning them up and replacing the cloth diaper with a new one.
Respect and Dignity
Whatever your circumstances are that led you to read this article, the most important point to remember is how the child or adolescent or adult feels.
How would you feel? Imagine yourself under the same circumstances
Even a young child at 3 or 4 can feel sad, frustrated or angry when they see another sibling in the family who doesn’t have to wear diapers at night. As a parent, it can be tempting to try to verbally “fix” the problem by admonishing the child- and all the while the child has no control over their situation.
If you have done everything in your power to address this problem and you have had conversations with your pediatrician and you are still dealing with incontinence in your older child- chances are that this is real and this is not something your child is proud of.
Keep that in mind and don’t allow yourself to belittle, scold or humiliate a child who is already feeling bad about the problem. This will ultimately backfire on you by causing the child to suffer emotional stress and a much longer journey to freedom from bedwetting.
With regard to adolescents and adults- imagine yourself having the same problem at their ages and ask yourself how you might feel. Would you have limitations? (Remember the teenage girl who suffered at a sleep-over). Would it depress you to put a diaper on every night at bedtime? Would you be humiliated to wake up wet every morning?
All of these thoughts need to be considered. It is important to make sure that no one is made to feel bad about a physical issue that is beyond their personal control. This means that it should not be a discussion at family events. This should not be something that a sibling is allowed to make fun of. This should not be something that you feel angry at your child about. It is simply how it is for that person for the moment and for some incontinence may always be an issue throughout life.
The best thing you can do is treat them as you would treat anyone else in the family and respect their personal issues with privacy, discretion and compassion.
The other best thing you can do is make them comfortable with some quality cloth diapers that are appropriate for your child, adolescent or adult needs.
Cloth Diapering Options for an Older Bedwetter
There are several cloth diapers that are specifically designed for older bedwetters. The options listed below have been thoroughly tested and consistently have fantastic reviews and excellent success rates.
When choosing an adult cloth diaper, please remember the rule of thumb for all cloth diapering options: no one brand or style is perfect for every family or even every family member! While one brand may work perfectly for one person, another person may wake up in a puddle after an evening in the same brand of cloth diaper pull-up. I recommend trying one before stocking up on just one type or brand. Try one, if it doesn’t meet your needs, try another one until you find the perfect match for you and your family!
Pay close attention to size charts when ordering. Diapers are just like designer jeans, all brands fit differently!
ecoABle Cloth Diaper: ecoABle adult cloth diaper is a two-part diaper system containing the soft, waterproof diaper shell and an extra absorbent 5 layer Charcoal Bamboo pad. Extra inserts can be added when more absorbency is needed (sold separately). Compatible with EcoAble Teen/Adult Inserts and generic disposables inserts.
GoodNites Tru-Fit: GoodNites Tru-Fitshas two parts: A water-resistant outer shell that looks identical to a regular pair of underwear, and a disposable insert. You can also use a cloth insert, such as a prefold or flat cloth diaper, instead of the disposable inserts! The Tru-Fits brand has two sizes and will fit most teens/adults from 34 – 100 pounds.
Mother-ease Bedwetter Pants: A pull-up style super absorbent pant for older children that need night time protection! 21 oz absorbency.
Sigzagor Teen – Adult Cloth Diaper: One size fits all with adjustable tab waist and elasticated leg gussets. Fits 26.7inches to 39inches waist.
Super Undies Bedwetting Nighttime Underwear: Super Undies bedwetting pants come in four sizes M/1: 11-13″ legs | Size L/2: 12-15″ legs | Size XL/3: 14-17″ legs | Size 4/XXL: 16-19″ legs.
Protecting The Mattress
Leaks will eventually happen. When leaks do happen you can just toss the bed sheets and pajamas in the washer, however the matress is another thing all together. I suggest protecting the mattress with a waterproof mattress pad or cover. Having a mattress pad protecting your mattress will make clean up much easier!
Let’s say you don’t have a mattress cover. If your child has an accident and soaks the mattress, here are a few tips for cleaning up stains and removing urine odors:
- You can use a spray bottle or just gently drizzle the mattress with vinegar. Using paper towels or rags, soak up the vinegar. Sprinkle baking soda all over the mattress. Vacuum up the baking soda from the mattress.
- Treat stains with a combination of hydrogen peroxide, liquid dish soap, and baking soda. Mix them into a spray bottle and treat the stained area. Blot and/or rub with a clean rag.
- Use non-toxic, natural enzyme cleaners, like Simple Solution, that chemically break down stains and odors.
- Make a paste of lemon juice and salt. Apply the mixture to the stain, and let it stand for 30–60 minutes. Wipe off salt with a clean towel.
- Use OdoBan: This stuff is amazing!
- For Memory foam simply vacuum, spot treat, and deodorize.