You might not hear parents of older children talking about it, but bedwetting is more common than you imagine. Among about ten percent of children aged five will wet their bed nearly every night. It’s frustrating for you, and your child may be scared, sad and embarrassed.
Enuresis, the clinical term for bedwetting, is defined as involuntary urination after ages four to five and may be either nocturnal, diurnal, or both. An enuretic is an individual who persists in daytime or nighttime wetting past an early age. Bedwetting is more common among boys than girls; approximately two-thirds of enuretics are boys, while one-third are girls.
Here are some measures to help your child prevent bed wetting:
1.) Shift times for drinking– increase fluid intake earlier in the day and reduce it later in the day. Offer sips of drinks from about 4pm and nothing at all to drink one and a half hours before bedtime.
2.) Schedule bathroom breaks– Get your child on a regular urination schedule and right before bedtime. Make sure your child goes to the bathroom before their bedtime, but also try carrying them to the bathroom again right before you go to bed. When your child empties their bladder, there’s less of a chance they’ll have to urinate during the night. This technique won’t cure bedwetting, but it can be an effective way to keep the bed dry through the night.
3.) Eliminate bladder irritants– At night, start by eliminating caffeine (such as chocolate milk and cocoa) and if this doesn’t work, cut citrus juices, artificial flavorings, dyes (especially red) and sweeteners. Many parents don’t realize these can all irritate a child’s bladder.
4.) Avoid thirst overload– If schools allow, give your child a water bottle so they can drink steadily all day. This avoids excessive thirst after school.
5.) Don’t wake children up to urinate– Randomly waking up a child at night and asking them to urinate on demand isn’t the answer and will only lead to more sleeplessness and frustration.
6.) Be encouraging– Make your child feel good about progress by consistently rewarding successes.
7.) Try to avoid putting your child in a nappy– It might help that they can feel when they’re wet at night time.
8.) Clear doubts– Before you start, make it clear to your child you’re not cross, you’re just trying to help, and make sure you listen and get them on board with any new measures.
9.) Find out the cause– If you suspect that the bedwetting is stress-related, if there’s a change in family structure, you’ve moved home or your child is experiencing bullying, for instance, try to work on this anxiety before you start on a new method.
10.) Teach control– Staying dry and exercising control over the bladder (using their pelvic floor muscles) during the day might help. Give them a timer or a watch with an alarm and see if you can prolong time between their toilet trips by 10 minutes each day.
11.) Use protective sheeting– Make sure you have the right protective sheeting and lots of sheets and nightwear. Leave a low light on so your child can see their way to the toilet.
12.) Ask them to ask for help from you– Once your child wets the bed, ask them to help you change themselves and the bed sheets, remember to stay sympathetic and gentle.
13.) Check for constipation– Consider if constipation is a factor because the rectum is right behind the bladder, difficulties with constipation can present themselves as a bladder problem, especially at night. This affects about one third of children who wet the bed, though children are unlikely to identify or share information about constipation. Constipation is a common cause for bladder problems. When the rectum, located just behind the bladder, is filled with large or hard poop, there is more pressure on the bladder. This causes bladder instability, which, in turn, can lead to nighttime or even daytime accidents. If you notice that your child isn’t having a daily bowel movement or if their stool is typically hard, increase their fluid and fiber intake. Apple juice, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all good options to help ease constipation and get the system working better again.
14.) Don’t blame them– Getting angry with your little one and punishing them for wetting the bed will only add pressure to stay dry and will make the problem worse. It’s difficult to stop a child from wetting the bed, and you shouldn’t worry about it unless they are embarrassed and ask you for help. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Offer some comfort instead. Often, when parents don’t talk about bed wetting, children think they are the only ones going through it. Reassure your child that they are not alone, and that bedwetting is very normal among their age group. Don’t resort to punishment. Getting angry at your child doesn’t help them learn. The process doesn’t need to involve conflict.
15.) Get a moisture alarm– A moisture alarm wakes your child the second he wets the bed. The interruption in sleep can condition the brain to control the bladder better and help prevent accidents. This method is about 75 percent effective, and tends to work when children themselves are ready to be dry.
16.) Get a waterproof mattress– If moisture alarms aren’t for you, you can try simpler measures. Make sure the bed has a waterproof mattress cover or pad and pillow cases. Lay fresh pajamas by your child’s bed for a quick change in the middle of the night. If your child sleeps through the night in a wet bed, you might also want to ask them to help change the sheets in the morning; doing so can help them take responsibility for the bed wetting. Even if the child isn’t wetting the bed on purpose, they’re still aware of their accidents when they wake up. Helping change the sheets can make them feel part of the solution rather than the problem.