Much to the dismay of kids everywhere, bedwetting is commonplace. Also known as nocturnal enuresis, bedwetting is described as the involuntary passing of urine during sleep. While most kids are able to stay dry through the night shortly after mastering daytime Potty Training, about 15-20% of six year olds, 2-3% of 14 year olds, and 1% of kids 15 and over still wet the bed. Since boys are slower to develop physically, they are three times more likely to be bedwetters than girls.
Causes of Bedwetting
The cause of bedwetting varies from person to person. Some of the most common causes include:
- Slow developing bladder muscle – typically in cases like this, the bladder muscle contracts and empties the bladder when it is only half full. With time, most kids with this type of bedwetting will outgrow it once their muscle control improves.
- Excessive urine – some children simply produce a large quantity of urine at night since the mechanism that slows nocturnal urine production isn’t fully developed. This, too, will take care of itself.
- Genetics – this can play a role in bedwetting. In families where one parent was a bedwetter, the children have a 40% chance of wetting the bed, and if both parents wet their beds beyond three years old, there is a 70% chance that their kids will be bedwetters.
- Emotional upset – anxiety, whether short term or prolonged, can increase the chances that your child will wet the bed.
- Infection – a urinary tract infection or cystitis can cause bedwetting, but it should stop once the infection has been properly treated.
- Medication – some medications, as well as caffeinated sodas and chocolate have a diuretic effect, increasing urine output.
- Health conditions – an underlying health condition, such as diabetes, may be to blame for chronic bedwetting.
Coping with Bedwetting
Until about the age of five, bedwetting requires no intervention at all. Do be sure, however, to let your child know that they needn’t feel ashamed as wetting the bed at that age is quite common. It may help to limit beverages for the two hours preceding bedtime so that your child’s bladder can be fully emptied before going to sleep, but do not completely restrict a child from drinking in the evening.
Since most kids outgrow bedwetting on their own, most methods of coping are just intended to make the wait more comfortable. For instance, you may consider purchasing absorbent undergarments for overnight use, and place a moisture-proof mattress cover under your child’s sheets in case of wetting through.
Empower your child to care of themselves by keeping fresh pyjamas handy, as well as a set of dry sheets if the child is old enough to change the bed. Also, check with your GP about getting an alarm that will alert your child to the first sign of wetness, encouraging them to awaken to use the toilet.
Some parents also find that it helps to wake their child and have them use the toilet a few hours after they’ve gone to bed. Typically, helping your child to the bathroom right before you go to bed works well. You can also help your child to develop greater bladder control by offering abundant fluids during the day and encouraging your child to hold it for a while before going to the bathroom. Over time, this may help them to be able to train their bladders.
Check with Your Doctor
Although bedwetting is usually outgrown, some kids may have an underlying medical condition that needs treatment. It is a good idea to mention the bedwetting to your child’s doctor so that tests can be run to rule out an infection or diabetes. Anxious children can be taught relaxation techniques to alleviate their anxiety, helping to minimise bedwetting incidents.