Bedwetting is a common problem in early childhood. It can be frustrating for parents but it is not considered to be a problem up to the age of 6 to 7 years. Before this age children are still trying to learn proper bladder control during sleep. However, bedwetting in older children, adolescents or adults is often due to some physiological or psychological problem and needs prompt medical attention. It needs to be treated at the root cause and sometimes even medication is necessary.
Trying to prevent bedwetting in early childhood is not an easy task. The number one mistake that parents can make is to use forceful or aggressive methods to scare the child from wetting the bed at night. It is important for parents to realize that bladder control in young children is different for older children, adolescents or adults. Bedwetting is common early in life. Nevertheless parents should not ignore bedwetting once a child has passed the diaper age. A gradual and gentle approach is important using simple aids that helps the child learn proper bladder control, rather than utilizing fear and embarrassment.
Remember that bedwetting can be a sign of bullying, abuse or the child being unwell despite a lack of other symptoms.
Ensure Your Child Urinates Before Bed
As part of the pre-bedtime routine, make sure that your child passes urine before settling down. It is important for you to verify that your child did urinate as children may sometimes say they did even when that have not. Your child may complain that their bladder is not full so they cannot urinate but encourage him/her to pass out what little they can. In fact you should ensure that your child urinates at least twice before sleeping for the night. This is known as double voiding. The first urination should be as the bedtime routine commences, and the second time should be just before falling asleep.
Make The Toilet Bright And Fun
Children are sometimes afraid of going to the toilet, especially alone. They will hold back their urine and this may lead to bedwetting as they are unable to control their bladder at night while sleeping. Ensure that your bathroom is well lit and fun to be in. Bright colors on the wall or a more child-orientated bathroom decor can make the difference. Leave a night light on in the bathroom or along the path to the bathroom. Reassure your child that it is perfectly acceptable to awake at night and go to the bathroom to urinate. Never make the bathroom a scary place and try not to chastise the child for little mishaps made in the bathroom during the nighttime visits.
Control Fluid Intake Before Bedtime
The underlying problem in childhood bedwetting is the inability to control the bladder at night which gradually develops with age. However, the problem is exacerbated when the bladder fills excessively. Normally urine production decreases while we sleep but if a person has drank a lot of fluid beforehand, the bladder will eventually fill up. Try to limit the amount of fluids your child consumes before bedtime. By the late afternoon to early evening your child should only have small amounts of fluid. Try to restrict large drinks for about 2 hours before bedtime but do not ignore thirst when it is present. Sometimes a smaller drink of water will suffice.
Reduce Foods And Drinks That Increases Urine
Some foods and beverages tend to increase urine output. It has a diuretic action in the same way as “water pills”. The effect may vary among different foods and drinks but the following are known the be a problem:
- Asparagus and other diuretic vegetables
- Certain sports/energy drinks
These foods and drinks do not have to be stopped entirely if it is a part of the child’s diet. Instead it should be avoided about 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. Remember that the more of these foods and drinks that are consumed, the greater the diuretic effect. The effect is further exacerbated by drinking large amounts of water before bedtime.
Consider A Moisture Alarm For The Bed
A large part of overcoming bedwetting involves conditioning. As your child gets older, he or she gradually develops better bladder control but there is no guarantee that bedwetting will not occur. Sometimes the child is not even aware that they have messed themselves and the bed till much later after the incident, or even only the next morning. A moisture alarm can be very useful in alerting a child when they have urinated on the bed. It is a small device that signals when fluid is detected on the bed. The alarm is intended to wake the child up ideally during urination. This allows the child to stop urinating and go to the bathroom to empty their bladder.
Be Patient With Your Child’s Bedwetting
An important part of managing your child’s bedwetting is to be patient. Upsetting, embarrassing or scaring the child will only make the situation worse. Parents need to be supportive rather than critical about the problem. You need to make your child aware that bedwetting is a common occurrence in childhod and should not worry them. It is also important to remember that bedwetting is sometimes a symptom of an underlying psychological cause. Bullying, abuse or other psychological stresses can materialize as bedwetting particularly when the child previously had good bladder control but then loses it. You need to be attentive for symptoms like these and investigate further where necessary.
Speak To Your Doctor About Medication
There is a host of medication that can be used for bedwetting. Drug therapy is not usually the first choice for treating bedwetting in a young child. It is only when bedwetting is arising due to an underlying problem or continuing beyond 6 to 7 years of age that medication should be considered. If your doctor feels that medication is necessary then it is important to follow his/her directions closely. Do not try to alter doses on your own accord or combine it with other drugs. Many parents are apprehensive about medicating young children so it is important discuss all the pros and cons with your doctor.