Firstly, don’t panic. Bed wetting is extremely common in children and many will grow out of it over time.
The medical name for bed wetting is nocturnal enuresis and describes a condition where a person passes urine during the night and is most prevalent in children.
What is causing my child’s bed-wetting?
There’s not always an obvious reason as to why your child is wetting the bed but it’s worth trying to identify the problem if you can. Here are some reasons to consider:
- A child’s urinary bladder doesn’t have the strength to hold urine throughout the night
- Urine production in a child is high at night
- Suffering from emotional problems, such as stress or anxiety
- Sweet foods at night
- Urinary tract infection
- The child may not have been toilet trained yet
- Excessive fluid intake throughout the evening
- Delayed bladder maturation – lack of coordination between the bladder and the brain
Top tips to help your child stop bed wetting
Reward dry nights
Encouragement is key. Firstly encourage your child to empty their bladder before they get in to bed. Whenever your child doesn’t wet the bed encourage them by saying they are improving, they are growing up and that they are very good. Building up their confidence is an important step to combatting the problem.
Wake up your child
At night wake them up after 3 or 4 hours of sleep so they can go to the toilet and again early in the morning. Restrict excessive drink intake after 7pm.
Delay urination during the day
When your child needs the toilet in the day, it’s recommended that you distract them for a couple of minutes so that they have to wait. Eventually, your child will learn to control their bladder better.
Counselling forms the main part of the treatment, as it’s essential that your child is assured that many other children also wet the bed but it’s only temporary. Anxiety and feelings of guilt around the problem can make bed wetting worse.
Keeping your child dry at night
A simple measure you can take is to ensure that your child’s bed has a waterproof mattress cover or pad and pillow protectors. Find more about bedding options here.
If your child wets the bed, ask them to help you change the sheets. By doing this you can help them take responsibility for the bed wetting, as well as making them feel part of the solution rather than the problem.
It’s also a good idea to check whether your child is suffering from constipation, as this puts further pressure on the bladder. Bladder instability can cause night and day time accidents. If you do notice that your child isn’t having a daily bowel movement, increase their fluid and fibre intake. Apple juice, fruits, vegetables and whole grains greatly lower the risk of constipation.
If your child is over the age of five and is still frequently wetting the bed, it’s advised that you visit your doctor.
Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence (ERIC) is a UK-based charity for people affected by bed wetting. The charity’s website provides useful information and advice for both children and parents.
For more information about bed-wetting visit our Sleep Clinic.