Contrary to conditions like asthma or allergies, bed wetting is rarely talked about outside of the family home. And although parents may feel like their child is the anomaly for wetting the bed, it is actually very common for children to go through this stage at some point in their lives. Even if they have been potty trained.
The heartbreaking thing is most children can feel like they’re the only one wetting the bed, making them feel awkward and embarrassed amongst their peer group.
And though for some, it is an inevitable part of growing up, it doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience.
Caused by genetics…
- There is no one single cause of bed wetting, but DNA may have something to do with it. The parents of three out of four children who wet the bed, also wet the bed themselves in childhood.
- There may also be a gene related to nighttime bladder control, that takes longer to develop in some children than others.
…or psychological stress
Big changes in a child’s life can cause them to regress to bed wetting. Events like the birth of a sibling, or the separation of parents can cause anxiety and stress in a child, leading to bed wetting among other things.
Other causes can include:
- Low anti diuretic hormone
- Deep sleep – children can often ‘sleep through’ the messages the bladder sends to the brain telling it it’s full
- Smaller ‘functional’ bladder – where the bladder feels fuller than it is, and the need to urinate is urgent
Your child will feel less alone during this time if the line of communication is open between parent and child. Showing frustration or disappointment in the middle of the night when another change of sheets is required, can negatively affect the child. So it’s imperative not to lose control when talking to your child about their bed wetting.
Talk to the doctor
Let your paediatrician know of your child’s bed wetting so they can take note of your child’s progress throughout this stage. It will also keep them alert to anything medical that could be going on.
You can also try:
- Encouraging your child to pee before bed
- Restricting their fluid intake before bed
- Covering the mattress with a plastic or waterproof sheet
- Bed wetting alarms – these alarms sense urine and can wake children in time to use the toilet
- Bladder stretching exercises may increase how much urine the bladder can hold
- A reward chart. For every ten dry nights your child has, give them a small treat to celebrate their progress. The key is to reward the dry nights, not punish the wet ones.