Could You Be Mishandling It?
Although many young children wet their beds, most stop by the time they are four or five. Some primary school-aged children still wet the bed; this could be troublesome to the children and their families. The good news is that for many, the problem can be fixed through fairly simple treatment.
Why does bedwetting happen?
Not all causes are known but some of them are:
- Genetic tendency. If one or both parents wet the bed when they were children, it is quite likely to occur in their children.
- Small bladder capacity.
- Deep sleeper.
- Kidneys continue to produce a lot of urine at night (most people make less urine when they are asleep).
What parents can do
- Reassure your child that there is nothing to be ashamed of, and that he/she will grow out of it.
- Try to have your child drink fewer fluids at night. Don’t give drinks containing caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, hot chocolate, caffeinated soft-drinks like Coca-Cola) late at night, as caffeine increases urine production.
- Remind your child to go to the toilet one final time before bedtime.
- Some parents find it helpful to take their child to the toilet two or three hours after the child goes to sleep.
- To help save washing: Cover the mattress with a plastic or waterproof sheet. Put nappies or pull-ups on your child (these cannot be worn while using a bedwetting alarm).
- Leave a soft light on so it’s easy and ‘safe’ for your child to go to the toilet.
- Make sure your child has a shower in the morning to feel fresh and not smelly to others, which can sometimes lead to teasing by other children.
- Check with a doctor if:
- Your child is at least six years old (treatment isn’t recommended before this age as manychildren get better spontaneously and treatment is less effective).
- You, or your child is troubled or frustrated by the bedwetting.
- Your child wets his/her pants during the daytim
What not to do
- Don’t punish, criticize, tease or offer rewards for something your child can’t control.
- It’s not a good idea to make young children clean up after themselves, as they might see it as a punishment for something they have no control over. Children often feel sad when they wake up in a wet bed.
Commonly referred to as the bell and pad method is considered the most useful initial way to treat bedwetting. With this simple system, a bell or buzzer goes off and wakes the child once the pad is wet. Over a period of a few weeks, the child gains greater bladder control until they are consistently waking up to go to the toilet.
Most children with bedwetting do not need to take medication, it is usually reserved for children who have not become dry when using a bedwetting alarm, and sometimes the two treatments are then given together.
Medications help the child’s body produce less urine at night, therefore reducing the risk of the child’s bladder overfilling during sleep. Many doctors recommend using the medication for three months, followed by a tapering off period to determine if the child can stay dry without medication.
A relapse of bedwetting after being treated can be a sign of stress in children. Finally, remember that bedwetting is not a behavioral problem and so family members need to be supportive, not critical.