Why Is My Child Wetting The Bed? 8 Ways To Handle Bedwetting

By: Dr. Beth Paxton

We parents spend so much time and energy potty training. From the first hurrahs when there’s a little pee in the potty to the uproarious applause when there’s finally poop there, we invest a little of ourselves along the way. Once your child is potty trained, you feel like taking a “pee pee in the potty" victory lap around the house.

So it’s no wonder parents are frustrated and dismayed when a child starts wetting the bed. We think we’re free of the diaper and training shackles and then this. When should you worry? Should you worry at all? What can you do about it?

It might make parents feel better to know bedwetting is a fairly common problem for many children. The American Academy of Family Physicians estimates that 5 to 7 million children wet the bed, though in that number there will be more boys than girls.

So, what causes bedwetting? A fair number of factors might be responsible, really.

Some causes of bedwetting (or technically called enuresis) include:

* Stress
* Genetics (if you wet your bed as a child, your child might too)
* Sleeping deeply and not waking to go to the bathroom
* Small bladder
* Urinary tract infection

The American Association of Pediatrics says only 1 percent of all bedwetting cases are a true medical case requiring treatment. If you see any of the following in your child, you can assume your child might have a medical problem and you should call your child’s pediatrician. These include:

* Burning urination during daytime hours
* Pink or cloudy urine, or blood stains on underwear or pajamas
* Daytime wetting along with the nighttime wetting
* Straining during urination or very little bits of urine being released while your child is urinating

If you think you can rule out medical causes of bedwetting, experts say there are several things you can do until your child outgrows this.

1. First, don’t punish your child for wetting the bed. Your support and compassion are worth much more than discipline and training right now.

2. Do not let anyone tease your child about the wetting. Establish a “no teasing" policy in your home, aimed primarily at siblings. Explain to them that teasing could make the problem worse, and that you are all trying to work together to nip this problem.

3. If your child is at least 7 or 8 and is still wetting the bed, experts recommend considering getting an alarm device, which will cost about $50 at a pharmacy. This alarm will go off when any urine is detected, which will wake your child so they can either get to the bathroom, or at the very least be made more aware of when they we the bed.

4. In the common sense category, limit fluids before bed and make sure your child uses the potty before heading to bed.

5. Purchase a waterproof liner for your child’s bed and put it between the mattress pad and the sheet. This will protect the mattress from getting stained and/or smelling like urine.

6. Have your child help change the bedding when he or she wets the bed. Don’t present this as punishment; it’s really more about taking responsibility and helping to clean the affected area.

7. Some doctors recommend encouraging your child some bladder control by having him or her hold urine for longer periods of time each day. This will “train" the bladder and might benefit your child during nighttime periods.

8. Finally, there are medications available for bedwetting, but most doctors won’t even consider them until your child is at least 7 years old.

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