Sleepless nights are probably something you’re accustomed to if you’re a parent. Sometimes those sleepless nights are spurred by colic or night terrors, but for so many parents, the problem comes from bedwetting, which means both you and your child are up, wet, tired and probably frustrated. Bedwetting is a common problem, and while there isn’t a cure-all to stop it, there are some things you may be able to do to help prevent the issue.
It Typically Isn’t Cause for Medical Concern
While bedwetting can certainly be a cause of frustration and sleeplessness for both parents and children, it is a fairly normal occurrence, especially if your child is younger than 5. After 5, talking to your family physician could help rule out other potential issues, such as diabetes, sleep apnea or a urinary tract infection (UTI), but these instances are rare. In most cases, the cause is a bladder that has not yet fully developed. Also something to note: Boys usually wet the bed more frequently than girls.
The Dos and Don’ts of Stopping it
Stopping bedwetting can be difficult, especially if the child isn’t bothered by it. Oftentimes, as they get older (as long as the issue isn’t caused by an underlying medical condition) and start going to sleepovers, they’ll express a desire to stop on their own. Until then, here are some dos and don’ts when it comes to helping your child stop wetting the bed.
- Encourage your child to drink more fluid earlier in the day and less as the day progresses.
- Eliminate caffeine. This is a bladder irritant and can be a culprit behind some bedwetting problems. Caffeine can be found in chocolate milk and cocoa as well as tea, so just because you’re not ordering a large soda or latte for them doesn’t mean they’re not still getting caffeine. If that doesn’t help, look for other bladder irritants to eliminate such as red dyes, artificial sweeteners and citrus juices.
- Try to schedule their bathroom breaks every two-to-three hours and then right before bedtime.
- Celebrate their success. Something as simple as a reward sticker board can go a long way with a child who is trying their best.
- Consider whether other issues might be playing a factor, such as a urinary tract infection, sleep apnea or constipation.
- Even though you’re likely frustrated (and probably tired from loss of sleep), avoid losing your temper. Chances are your child isn’t wetting the bed on purpose and you being angry isn’t going to help the situation.
- Waking your child to urinate is probably not going to be much help either. They’ll likely not be able to go and then you’re contending with a cranky kid and a wet bed in the morning.
- Don’t immediately push for medication. There are some available that may be able to temporarily fix the issue, but unless the situation is severe, most pediatricians would rather not go that route.void punishment. Most of the time the issue isn’t something they can help, and making them anxious about bedtime is a recipe for lots of sleeplessness – for them and for you.
If the problem has gone on for months after your child turns 5 and there seems to be no signs of stopping, or if the bedwetting is affecting their everyday life, see your pediatrician for a health assessment and other behavioral recommendations.
Dr. Ghazala Abuazza is a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Cypress Clinic. She has additional fellowship training in pediatric nephrology (kidney disease in kids) and would be happy to see and further evaluate and help manage your child’s bedwetting issues. She can also address other kidney diseases that might be associated with bedwetting. Her clinical interests include breastfeeding, healthy eating, immunizations, allergies, asthma, eczema and skin rashes, enuresis, urinary tract infections, dysfunctional voiding syndrome and other kidney diseases.