It’s inconvenient. It’s messy. It’s trouble. But most importantly, it’s very common. In fact, among children, bedwetting occurs in 2 out of every 3 children under the age of 4. Beyond the age of 5, frequent bedwetting is called enuresis. It is more common in boys, often starts suddenly, and is not something that can necessarily be ‘cured’ overnight. Bedwetting also involves many issues, both physical and emotional and must be addressed by the parent with both in mind.
The first thing to know when you are dealing with bed-wetting is that the emotional ramifications to your child may be more than you realize. In children who have been potty trained and suddenly find themselves wetting the bed they often try to hide the evidence from mom and dad. If parents react by shaming a child or with anger, frustration, or disciplinary actions the emotional state can worsen. And this can make the bedwetting worse. Remember that bedwetting may signal a problem with your child, but that you don’t have a problem child because they wet the bed. For this reason, react first with compassion. In the beginning, bedwetting can make your daily routine harder however as you learn to deal with a bed wetter, there are tips and tricks you can use to make things easier.
Some of the things that cause bedwetting or enuresis are drinking excess fluids, drinking especially cold fluids, taking medications before bedtime, unable or unwillingness to empty the bladder completely before bed, psychological stress, and more serious conditions like kidney or bladder infections. Some of these reasons can be controlled by introducing a new routine before bedtime and during bedtime. Pediatricians recommend that children stop in taking fluids at least 3 hours before bedtime if they are prone to bedwetting. Yes, this can be hard especially when your child is constantly thirsty or if they are accustomed to going to bed with a glass of milk or water. However, it is necessary so that your child will have ample opportunity to empty the bladder. During this time, remind your child to go to the bathroom every 30 to 45 minutes so that they will empty completely. Some children, especially boys may have urgency to go but are unable to fully empty the bladder. Most often, they grow out of this.
Additionally, using products like Good Nights before bed, which are very discreet and look very much like real underwear can be just the thing your child needs to deal with the emotional stress. If they are wearing Good Nights they may be relaxed that it won’t matter if they wet the bed because they are already protected. Plus, you can send them Grandma’s; a sleepover with friends or anywhere and no one else will be able to know the difference.
Another routine change that may be necessary for dealing with bedwetting is setting an alarm around 4 hours after your child goes to sleep so that you can wake them up and get them to use the bathroom. While it may disturb sleep, it may be just the thing you need to help them develop an internal clock for waking and using the bathroom. For a while, it will be up to the parent to do this and you will quickly realize that some children may never ‘fully awake’ for this little bathroom retreat going back to sleep quickly. Then upon waking, make sure that your child goes to the bathroom first thing!
If changing their schedule and waking them during the night to use the bathroom doesn’t work then you need to make sure that they have a check up with their doctor. This is simply to rule out any urinary abnormalities or infections that may be looming under the radar, causing the bedwetting. If the doctor gives the all clear then try to imagine ways that you can help your child de-stress. Often, children who have high levels of anxiety whether due to circumstances or personality, are more prone to bedwetting for the sheer reason that stress levels and thought processes cause them to sleep differently than other children.
There are also some very good tools that you can use (in older children) who suffer from enuresis. You can purchase pagers that clip to your child’s undergarments or even the Good Night’s that vibrate as soon as they sense moisture. This helps to heighten your child’s awareness of when they are using the bathroom. There are also alarms that can be placed on their bed that do the same thing. This way the child will wake up when they have to pee artificially at first, but naturally eventually. Specialty websites also sell sheets and under lays for beds that are designed to make the bedwetting less frustrating and difficult to clean up. They fit right on the bed and will help to protect the mattress, carpet, and sheets and they are comfortable.
One of the most important aspects of dealing with bedwetting is talking to your child about it. Whether you are coming out of potty training and they are still having problems or your grade school child is having problems, they may likely feel ashamed. Siblings and other people may tease them. Educate your child so that they understand that they have a condition. In fact, most of the time in boys, it is hereditary and their fathers probably had bedwetting problems as well. Identify with their emotions and make sure that you keep it secret. Sharing it with people on the phone while your child is around will only make them feel worse. Most kids understanding that they have a medial problem and hearing from YOU that they WILL definitely grow out of it, goes miles to finding the solution that you need to overcome bedwetting. Make sure your child knows that they aren’t alone in this problem and that millions of other children, just like them have this same issue. And regardless of how tired you become with dealing with urine soaked sheets remain compassionate and calm. Remember that bedwetting is not a problem that requires discipline. It requires understanding and compassion.