You feel a tug on your arm in the middle of the night and what is standing beside you is a wet, uncomfortable child. Although bed-wetting is very common, it doesn’t make it any less exhausting for parents and embarrassing for children. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated 13-20% of 5-year-old children still wet the bed.
The Cleveland Clinic reports that bed wetting up to the age of 5 is normal and does not require medical intervention. Parents should take their child to their pediatrician if they are still regularly wetting the bed after the age of 7, if they begin to wet the bed suddenly after months of staying dry, or if a child’s bed wetting is accompanied by painful urination or stools.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends certain strategies that parents can employ at home to try and combat bedwetting. These include reducing fluid intake later in the day and ensuring that your child isn’t drinking stimulants like chocolate milk or cocoa at night. Eliminate citrus, artificial flavors and dyes and sweeteners. All of these can irritate the bladder.
Ensure that your child is consistently hydrated throughout the day to avoid late day thirst. Ask your child’s teacher if they can have access to a water bottle throughout the day. Be sure that your child is getting regular bathroom breaks. Often, young children “hold it in” because they are having fun. Encourage them to be on a regular urination schedule and to use the bathroom right before bed.
Consider an earlier bedtime since that may yield a better-rested child who may be more likely to wake up when they have to use the bathroom. Avoid too much stimulation like screen time before bedtime in order to help their minds slow down.
There are products parents can buy to aid them too. Bed-wetting alarms can be clipped to the child’s underwear or placed on the pad on the bed. Once the device detects any moisture, the alarm goes off. There are also disposable and reusable absorbent underpants as well as waterproof bed pads that absorb moisture.
It may be difficult not to get frustrated especially when exhausted and dealing with bedwetting, but parents should remember to never make a child feel as if they have done anything wrong. Emphasize that it is not their fault and it is perfectly normal. Finally, to boost a child’s motivation, reward your children as they make these changes and praise them for their progress.
POSSIBLE CAUSES THAT MAY PLAY A ROLE IN BEDWETTING:
➜ Small bladder or inability to recognize a full bladder
Bedwetting may be caused by the size of your child’s bladder, or the child’s nervous system controlling the bladder may be slow to mature and not wake your child.
➜ Hormonal imbalance
A lack of an anti-diuretic hormone may affect the ability to control urine production at night.
➜ Urinary tract infection
Parents should look out for symptoms like odor and pain in urination, daytime accidents, frequent urination, or red or pink urine. Children should be tested for infection and treated by their pediatrician.
One of the first signs of the disease can be bedwetting at night. See a doctor if this is accompanied by other symptoms.
➜ Sleep apnea
The child’s breathing is interrupted during sleep, many times due to inflamed or enlarged tonsils or adenoids. This is a serious condition and needs medical attention.