Does your child wet the bed? You may wonder if it’s normal and worry about what to do. Here are the answers.
Is it normal?
Almost half of all three-year-olds and 40% of four-year olds wet their beds multiple times a week. Additionally, 20-25% of five-year-old children and 10-15% of six-year-olds don’t stay dry every night. These percentages conclude that bedwetting, called Enuresis (“en-yur-EE-sis”), is normal behavior at these ages.
The good news is that by the age of nine only 5% of children wet the bed, and even then it is only once a month on average. As children get older the accidents decrease. For almost all children, the problem will most likely go away on its own without any sort of intervention.
Why do children wet the bed?
There are a number of biological reasons for bedwetting:
- A signal isn’t being sent from your child’s kidneys to his brain
- His bladder overproduces urine in the evenings
- He sleeps so deep that he doesn’t wake up to go to the bathroom
- His bladder simply hasn’t grown large enough to contain an entire night’s supply of urine
All of these conditions resolve on their own as the child grows older.
Like father like son…
Aside from biological reasons for bedwetting, it can also be caused by heredity. If one or both of the child’s parents wet the bed when they were young, a child is more likely to do the same.
It can also be caused by diabetes, food sensitivities, some medications, or health conditions. There’s also a possibility it is related to a sleep disorder so if your child shows additional symptoms, such as loud snoring, you may want to speak to his pediatrician.
Helping your child stay dry at night
While it’s not necessary to work on nighttime dryness if your child is under the age of seven, if your child wants to stay dry at night, or if you would like to give nature a nudge, you can try some of these suggestions:
- Make several pre-bed trips to the bathroom – one at the beginning of your bedtime routine and once again just before lights out at the very end of the routine.
- Keep a night light on for a clear path to the bathroom and make sure your child knows he can get up to go to the bathroom at night if he needs to. Just the pre-bedtime reminder and the lit path may help.
- Use a special mattress cover instead of absorbent pull-ups. Absorbent pants or diapers can delay the normal development process because a child can’t feel when urination occurs.
- Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids during the day and to use the toilet frequently all day. Yes – regular daytime bladder use helps solve bedwetting!
- Limit liquids for an hour or two before bedtime. You don’t need to cut out liquids entirely since this only reduces the amount of nighttime urine; it doesn’t stop the reasons for bedwetting.
- Don’t place any blame on the child or make him feel guilty or ashamed. Let him know that it’s normal and will take time to change.
What to do about a bedwetting toddler or preschooler
For a bedwetting toddler or preschooler the solution is simple: allow your child to sleep in a diaper, padded training pants, disposable absorbent underpants, or use a special mattress cover until he begins to stay dry all night. Most little ones will outgrow this on their own.
When should you call a doctor?
According to the National Kidney Foundation you only need to talk to a doctor about bedwetting if your child is six or seven years of age or older, or if there are other symptoms of a sleep disorder.
A specialist can help direct parents of older children as to the use of bed alarms, bladder-training exercises, diet changes, therapy, or medication.
Don’t worry, Mom and Dad!
There are plenty of things we parents must worry about and strive to change but, usually, bedwetting isn’t one of them. All you have to do is be patient. In time it’s likely your child will be dry at night without your having to be involved in a solution at all.
This is an excerpt from The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Preschoolers by Elizabeth Pantley