Friday, August 6, 2010

Older Children,Bedwetting,Diapers,and Discretion:Dealing With Babysitters,Nannies,and Other Caregivers

One of the key concerns of older children that wear diapers for bed-wetting is how to maintain discretion. For many children that wet the bed parents going out for the evening is a situation that elicits a considerable amount of anxiety. This article addresses this issue.

As mentioned in my article "Older Children,Bed-Wetting,and Self Diapering" older children should be responsible for putting on their own protection unless the child has some cognitive and/or physical impairment that prevents or makes it difficult for him or her to do so. If this is the case this should be brought up to the babysitter beforehand.

With this in mind there is really no reason to involve the babysitter. The only scenario I can see where this might be necessary is if the child has to wear diapers and plastic pants to bed. There could be situations in which the parent or parents have not finished laundering the diapers and plastic pants. As a result the babysitter might notice plastic pants hanging up to dry or have to take diapers out of the dryer when they're done to give to the child before he goes to bed. Or the diapers and plastic pants might be laundered but the parents might have forgotten or not have time to put them in the child's room and the babysitter has to give them to the child. Depending on the relationship you have with the babysitter and their maturity level this may not be a problem. Usually a parent's intuition should be a fairly reliable guide to how well the person taking care of the child will respond to this issue. If the parents feel that the babysitter is responsible and level headed they might have no qualms about involving them in dealing with the protective garments.

That being said, another thing to consider is the child's relationship to the babysitter. The child might not feel comfortable with them knowing they have to wear diapers and plastic pants for bed-wetting. If this is the case or the parents don't feel the babysitter will react to the fact that the child has to wear night diapers in a mature,respectful fashion then the parents need to make sure the garments are ready for the child prior to the babysitter coming over. As discussed in previous articles there are instances where bed-wetters wear both reusable and disposable diapers. If this is so the child can wear disposable diapers when the parents might be out for the evening and use the cloth diapers and plastic pants on other nights. This way the babysitter doesn't have to know about the bed-wetting and diaper use. As far as the child's relationship to the babysitter is concerned another factor involved in how close the child feels to the babysitter is the sex of both the child and the caretaker. Girls tend to be more mature than boys and as a result are usually more responsible. Also the girl's maternal instincts come into play which means in general girls tend to be more nurturing and sympathetic. When you combine the traits of responsibility with being nurturing it's very likely that a girl babysitter might be more sympathetic and understanding about the fact that the child needs to wear diapers to bed. As far as the sex of the child and how this relates to how comfortable the child feels with the babysitter knowing about the bed-wetting and diaper use,this has to be taken on a case by case basis. For example, some boys feel more comfortable discussing certain issues with a female. Likewise the boy might feel more at ease discussing other types of problems with a male. The same can be said for girls. Bed-Wetting and the use of diapers to manage it is also a case where the child might only feel comfortable discussing it with a certain sex. The parents have to make a judgment based on the child's personality and that of the babysitter.

At this point I would like to talk about nannies. Many parents use nannies and au pairs to take care of their children. Since the nannies live with the family and are responsible for doing chores around the house such as laundry it is impossible for them not to be aware of the child having a bed-wetting problem and being involved with taking care of the wet items. Since there are a large number of children that wet the bed I'm sure this is not a big deal. However if the child has to wear pin-on diapers and plastic pants and since older children are more self-conscious about wearing these styles of diapers, this might need to be addressed with the agency beforehand. I would talk to them and say that you have an older child that needs to wear pin-on cloth diapers and plastic pants because they wet the bed. I would mention that they might feel self-conscious about the nanny dealing with these garments and ask them if they have suggestions on how to broach this subject with the caretaker or if the agency can talk to them beforehand about it. Since taking care of children requires a person who is highly responsible and mature I would think that the individual would be able to handle this in a gracious manner. In addition it's in the nanny's best interest nanny to have a reputation of being judicious and responsible so they get good references in order to get hired again. Again the child might feel somewhat anxious about this and the parent should let them know that you're taking their feelings into consideration and that you'll make sure that the person responsible for taking care of them will handle this in a caring manner.

If the child is staying with relatives the parents need to make a judgment call as far as how they think the relatives will respond to the child or teen's problem. If they feel they will be understanding about the bed-wetting and diaper use the parents can disclose this to them. If however they think they will not respond in a positive manner the parents need to come up with a plan to help the bed-wetter keep the problem private. Perhaps the child can wear disposable diapers and dispose of them in a garbage bag. The youngster can double bag to make sure that there's no telltale odor. The child can put them in a a garbage bag,spray some Lysol or other disinfectant in the bag,tie the bag up,then put that bag in another garbage bag. You should find out if the child will be sharing a room before hand so you can devise a plan to keep the issue private. Hopefully the parents will have a close enough relationship where they can discuss this issue beforehand. Unfortunately not all people are understanding about this problem and if the parents of the child feel they might not be supportive then it might be best to follow the suggestions mentioned earlier. Incontinence and parenting forums are a good place to get suggestions about these types of issues. Incontinence Resource Center has a forum where you can ask questions about incontinence and incontinence products. Many people suffering from bed-wetting and other forms of incontinence have dealt with these types of concerns and should be able to provide suggestions about how to be discreet about the bed-wetting and diaper use. It might be a good idea to post a question on the forum of the Incontinence Resource Center and see if they have additional ideas about this matter. Their web address is

At this point I'd like to talk about boarding school. If the child or teen is going away to a boarding school and is dealing with bed-wetting the parents need to talk about this with the school beforehand. I would tell them that you have a child who needs special accommodations due to a medical problem and ask them who you would talk to about that. I suspect they have a specific individual(perhaps the school nurse) that handles these matters. When you talk to the person responsible for dealing with this subject you should ask them if the school is set up to wash diapers and plastic pants(if the child or teen uses these types of diapers) or should the youngster wear disposable diapers instead. Another thing to ask is if the school can make arrangements for the youth to either share a room with a student with similar issues. If not what sort of steps can be taken to enable the youngster to be discreet about the problem. Given the fact that many children,teenagers,and adolescents wet the bed I'm sure they're used to dealing with this. Again I would check out various parenting and incontinence forums to see what advice they might have regarding this.

The last thing I'd like to talk about is camp. For many youngsters summer camp can be a real fun experience,however it can be nerve wracking for a child or teen that wets the bed. Again the same advice applies. This is a fairly common situation and most camps should be well versed in how to handle it. There are camps that deal specifically with youths with bed-wetting and other incontinence issues. One of these camps is called Camp Brandon for Boys. Here is their contact information: 14 Jerry Drive, Plattsburgh NY 12901. Their phone number is (518) 570-5184. I couldn't find a web address for them. Another camp for children with bed-wetting issues is Camp Kirk in Canada. Their web address is There is a resource that lists camps for youth with special needs called which is an online summer camp directory. Both Camp Kirk and Camp Brandon were listed on their website. Their web address is If you do a Google search you might be able to come up with other camps of a similar nature or if you contact they might have suggestions about resources to contact that may have camps not listed on their site.

Bed-Wetting and the use of diapers to manage it doesn't have to be a stressful experience. With appropriate preparation it can be dealt with in a way that allows the child to maintain their dignity. It's important for the youngster have a strong support system. This will go a long way in helping him or her feel less self-conscious about this problem.

1 comment:

  1. Colin, I very much appreciate your infrequent articles. I was diapered until I was 15 and found it to be a very positive experience. It was a tremendous comfort to me, knowing I was secure in bed. I wet very, very infrequently, but still benefitted from the care my mother and younger sister directed toward me. There were no stressful issues of embarrassment or humiliation in our house. The entire issue was handled discreetly and with great love.

    I can only recall one time I felt shame about being diapered: I was about 12 and was going to have a school friend over to visit. There were two pairs of snap-on plastic pants on my dresser, along with a rectal thermometer and a jar of Vaseline. I just put them in my diaper drawer and forgot about them. That was the only time I ever felt I had to hide anything.

    Since I had grown up being diapered at night, there was no single "aha!" moment where my sister had to be made aware for the first time. Eventually, she would undertake the diapering chore after dinner each night. I would remain diapered until it was time to dress for school the next morning (or, on the weekends, until it was time to leave the house).

    I cannot say enough about her sensitivity and discretion. I was never shamed or made to feel bad because of my diapers. And I feel that her involvement is one of the key reasons we grew up very close. You see, there was a special bond of trust there.

    I would not hesitate to diaper an older child for even a moment. Given my family history, I know it can be done right and there is no need for a child to feel traumatized.

    Personally, I am grateful for the experience. The memories of comfort and security will remain with me for a lifetime.