About 10 percent of children under age 7 and 5 percent who are age 10 still wet the bed, even if they don’t have wetting accidents or show symptoms during the day. Bedwetting is a normal part of a child’s bladder development, but it can be stressful and embarrassing—especially as a child grows older. Children may feel that bedwetting is their fault, even though that’s not the case. As a parent, you can approach this issue with patience, sensitivity, and a few recommendations to help your child achieve a sound and dry sleep.
What are the most common causes of bedwetting?
Sometimes, your child may have an infection or constipation that causes both daytime and nighttime accidents. Your doctor can determine if either one of these is the cause and provide treatment.
If there are no daytime symptoms, other factors include:
• Hereditary conditions – if there is a family history of those with the condition.
• Heavy sleeping – not waking up when bladder is full.
• Hormonal imbalance – not producing enough of an anti-diuretic hormone to reduce urine production at night.
• Stressful events – such as a move, new school or bullying.
• Secondhand smoke can be a potential cause.
What can I do?
• Encourage your child to drink more fluids during the day and taper off fluid intake in the evening. If possible, stop fluids two hours before bedtime. However, don’t withhold fluids if your child is truly thirsty.
• Eliminate bladder irritants such as caffeine, carbonation, citric acid, chocolate and red/purple dyes from your child’s diet, particularly in the late afternoon and evening. Dairy products also should be avoided in the evening.
• Encourage urination on a regular schedule (every two to three hours) during the day. Before bedtime, encourage double voiding. If bedtime is at 8 p.m., have your child empty his or her bladder at 7:30 p.m. and again at 8 p.m.
• Monitor your child for any signs of constipation and treat accordingly.
• If these steps don’t stop the bedwetting, talk to your child’s healthcare professional.
What are other options?
• In some cases, a bedwetting alarm can be used to wake your child at the moment the alarm senses wetness. A bedwetting alarm works in about 60 to 70 percent of cases and requires a high level of commitment from you and your child. It may take three or four months before your child begins to wake on his or her own. There are several versions of the alarm available, all are equally effective.
• Medications may be prescribed if your doctor determines that your child’s bedwetting may be caused by a hormonal imbalance, a small or overactive bladder, or when other treatments have failed.
For more information, visit www.iuhealth.org/rileyspeaks.