Many parents struggle with their child wetting the bed most nights of the week.
The experience can be overwhelming and stressful even with occasional bedwetting.
No matter your situation, you can find comfort knowing that wetting the bed is a normal part of a child’s development.
We have 14 tips and ideas that will help you deal with nighttime bedwetting in children.
What Causes Nighttime Bedwetting in Children?
Bedwetting, or Nocturnal Enuresis (NE), can be the result of any number of causes. In children it’s often referred to as Persistent Primary Nocturnal Enuresis, and is defined by a child who has not been able to stay dry for 6 consecutive months. Medically, it’s not considered a serious problem.
A child will usually experience nighttime bedwetting because they are lacking in one of two specific skills, both involving signals between the brain and the bladder. The first is when the brain is unable to tell the bladder to relax when it needs to hold more urine. The second is when the bladder cannot signal the brain to wake the body up when it is full.
Parents often wonder when their child should stop wetting the bed. It’s important to understand that it’s very difficult to predict, because children will stop wetting the bed at different times and for different reasons.
The nerves and muscles involved in the process are complicated and they must work together for success. This means that the entire process can’t be controlled voluntarily. It takes time.
There are other factors as well that can cause nighttime bedwetting including:
- Constipation – Too much stool can press against the bladder and cause the nerve signals to be confused. It can also prevent the bladder from holding enough urine.
- Increased Urine Production – The brain is unable to make enough of vasopressin, which is a hormone that reduces how much urine the kidneys produce.
- Limited Bladder Capacity – A child’s bladder may have a reduced capacity compared to other children their age, and therefore can’t hold as much urine.
- Arousal Disorder – A child is unable to respond to the signals that it’s time to urinate.
- Heavy Sleepers – Children who sleep more heavily have a harder time waking up when they feel the signal that their bladder is full.
13 Tips to Prevent Nighttime Bedwetting in Children
Bedwetting can have far-reaching effects on children as well as parents. It can cause embarrassment and issues with self-esteem. Patience and understanding are key when it comes to dealing with the stress. However, there are some things you can do to help. Take a look at these 14 tips for preventing nighttime bedwetting and the stress that comes with it:
- Never punish or shame children for wetting the bed at night.
- Limit their fluid intake, especially after dinner, to prevent excess urine production at night.
- Choose a mattress cover that is waterproof to protect the mattress and prevent the smell of urine.
- Wake your child a few hours after they’ve fallen asleep to empty their bladder.
- Remind the child that it is not their fault and this will not last forever.
- Discourage siblings from teasing them about wetting the bed.
- Allow your child to wear absorbent briefs to help prevent wet sheets and pajamas.
- Use a bedwetting alarm to help alert your child when they’re wet and encourage them to use the bathroom.
- When they have a success, however small, let them know you’ve noticed.
- Try to stay patient and calm whenever possible – your attitude matters.
- If you or someone else in the family has experienced bedwetting, share that with your child so they know they’re not alone.
- Make your child feel good about helping whenever it happens, such as when they strip their bed or assist with laundry.
- Think about trying bladder therapy, which involves your child drinking large amounts of water during the day to help them recognize the signs that their bladder is full and encouraging them to empty it right away.
When to Seek Help
There are times when you should seek help for any bedwetting problems, including:
- Urinary Tract Infections – Chronic infections can cause painful urination and nighttime wetting.
- Psychological Factors – If a child has experienced any emotional distress or trauma it could lead to nighttime bedwetting.
- Sexual Abuse – A child who has suffered from sexual abuse may begin experiencing nighttime bedwetting.
As a parent, always make sure to use your best judgement if you think your child may have an underlying cause for nighttime bedwetting that may be more serious. Your child’s pediatrician or a pediatric urologist may be able to help or recommend treatment options.
Above all, take comfort in knowing that nighttime bedwetting will resolve itself over time. You are your child’s best advocate and support system. Be there for them and know you’re not alone!