What is the cause?
Most children who wet the bed have inherited small bladders which cannot hold all the urine produced in a night. In addition, they are deep sleepers who don’t awaken to the signal of when they are full.
Measure your child’s bladder size to help you understand how important it is for him to get up at night. Do this by having your child hold his urine as long as possible on at least 3 occasions. Have your child urinate into a container each time. Measure the amount of urine in ounces. The largest of the 3 measurements can be considered your child’s bladder capacity. The normal capacity for children is 1 or more ounces per year of age.
How long does it last?
Most children who are bed-wetting overcome the problem between ages 6 and 10. Even without treatment, all children eventually get over it. Therefore, treatments that might have harmful complications should not be used. On the other hand, treatments without side effects can be started as soon as your child has had complete bladder control during the daytime for 6 to 12 months.
How can you help your child?
Encourage your child to get up to urinate during the night
This advice is more important than any other. Tell your child at bedtime, “Try to get up when you have to pee.”
Improve access to the toilet
Put a night light in the bathroom. If the bathroom is at a distant location, try to put a portable toilet in your child’s bedroom. Boys will do fine with a bucket.
Encourage daytime fluids
Encourage your child to drink a lot during the morning and early afternoon. The more your child drinks, the more urine your child will produce, and more urine leads to larger bladders.
Discourage evening fluids
Discourage your child from drinking a lot during the 2 hours before bedtime. Give gentle reminders about this, but don’t worry about normal amounts of drinking. Avoid any drinks containing caffeine.
Empty the bladder at bedtime
Sometimes the parent needs to remind the child. Older children may respond better to a sign at their bedside or on the bathroom mirror.
Take your child out of diapers or training pants
Although this protective layer makes morning clean-up easier, it can interfere with motivation for getting up at night. Use special absorbent underpants selectively for camping or overnights at other people’s homes. Use them only if your child wants to use them. They should rarely be permitted beyond age 8.
Protect the bed from urine
Odour becomes a problem if urine soaks into the mattress or blankets. Protect the mattress with a plastic mattress cover.
Include your child in morning clean-up
Including your child as a helper in stripping the bedclothes and putting them into the washing machine provides a natural disincentive for being wet. Older children can perform this task independently. Also, make sure that your child takes a shower each morning so that he does not smell of urine in school.
Respond positively to dry nights
Praise your child on mornings when he wakes up dry. A calendar with gold stars or happy faces for dry nights may also help.
Respond gently to wet nights
Your child does not like being wet. Most bed-wetters feel quite guilty and embarrassed about this problem. They need support and encouragement, not blame or punishment. Siblings should not be allowed to tease bed-wetters. Your home needs to be a safe haven for your child. Punishment or pressure will delay a cure and cause secondary emotional problems.
Click here to find out what to do when your child reaches age 6.
Click here to fin dout what to do when your child reaches age 8.
For more information visit AboutKidsHealth.