First of all, bedwetting isn’t anything to be ashamed of or nervous about. Children who wet the bed are not broken, and more than likely there’s not anything deeply wrong with your child. So take solace and view this as simply another challenge that comes with the process of growing up and that it will indeed pass.
Still, it can be incredibly disturbing for children and labour intensive for parents. Kids become self conscious when they wet the bed, and it can be a serious stressor in their lives.
There are four kinds of bedwetting.
- Primary – This is children over the age of five who have never been dry on a regular basis. Because many children still wet the bed at age 4 ½, it’s not considered out of the ordinary for children to wet the bed until after their fifth birthday.
- Secondary – Children who were once dry but aren’t anymore. This is considered secondary because it’s often due to some other cause. Stress, constipation, or even the onset of an illness like Type 1 diabetes. If your child has begun to wet the bed regularly after a long period of being dry, then you should speak to your doctor to look for underlying causes.
- Delayed Development – Children who have other kinds of delays in development, like learning or developmental disabilities, are more likely to have bedwetting issues.
- Heredity – Children are far more likely to wet the bed if a parent was a bed wetter, and even more so if both parents were. Think back to how you handled it, and give your child the tools that you wish you’d had.
Bedwetting is a hugely stressful situation for children and for parents! But realise that most likely it will simply pass on its own as children become more in tune with their bodies and as their urinary tracts mature, allowing them to simply go longer periods of time without needing to go to the toilet.
In the meantime, here are some practical tips that might just help your child get over the bedwetting hurdle!
- Be prepared – make sure that you have a quality waterproof sheet on the mattress. Keep a spare set of sheets, a spare comforter, and dry pyjamas in a place that’s easily accessible so that you’re not fumbling in the middle of the night should your child wake up with an accident. Remember that being prepared will mean less frustration for you and therefore less shaming for your child.
- Involve your child – The AAP (1) says that encouraging a child to help clean up accidents is a great way to help them be less embarrassed and to solidify their responsibility for bedwetting. Older children can learn to clean up on their own, which greatly reduces feelings of embarrassment.
- Limit liquid intake – This sounds like a no brainer, but it can really help. Limit your child’s intake of liquids for a couple of hours before bedtime. This simple method can have amazing results.
- Adjust bedtime – If your child consistently wets the bed a half an hour before they usually wake up, then try having them go to sleep half an hour earlier and wake up half an hour earlier. The issue may be as simple as their bodies being on a slightly different schedule than their current sleep time.
Stay positive! For most families, bedwetting is a passing issue. Realise that while it may be daunting now, in a few years you probably won’t recall that your child had a bedwetting issue.
Information Source: American Academy of Pediatrics. (2006) Bedwetting. Found at http://patiented.aap.org/content2.aspx?aid=5444