This can be annoying, frustrating and very time consuming for busy parents. Wetting the bed at night (nocturnal enuresis) is very common in young children. In fact, it is normal up to the age of five years. It does pass!
Facts to remember
- About half of all three-year-olds and about 10% of five-year-olds wet their beds.
- It is a little more common in boys than girls.
- Most children who wet the bed have no physical or emotional problems.
- Bedwetting can become a social problem for many children and their families if it is still continuing by the age of six to seven years.
Types of bedwetting. There are two types of bedwetting:
- The child who has never been dry for more than a few months at a time (primary nocturnal enuresis).
- The child who has been completely dry for more than 6 months and then starts to wet the bed again (secondary nocturnal enuresis).
- An emotional event or social changes or constipation may trigger this kind of bedwetting.
What causes bedwetting?
- 60% of children who wet the bed produce more urine during sleep than other children.
- The amount of urine the bladder holds may be less than children who don’t wet the bed.
- Fluid restriction in the evening doesn’t prevent the episode from occurring.
- Because it happens during sleep the child has no conscious control over it.
- It may be your child has worms! (This was the case recently with one of my grandchildren! )
What can you do to help?
- Do reassure your child, especially if your child is upset. You need to be patient and understanding, even though you may feel angry.
- Do try a night-light. It may be useful for children who often wake up during the night, either to go to the toilet or to change their pyjamas.
- Do encourage a good night’s sleep. A restful sleep without interruptions is best for your child. Waking your child to go to the toilet during the night will not help solve the problem.
- Do try absorbent pads. The pads go under the bottom sheet to keep the bed drier and more comfortable.
- Do shower or bathe your child before you let them go to pre-school or school.
- Do encourage your child to have plenty to drink, particularly during the day.
- Do discourage your child from drinking caffeinated drinks in the evenings (eg chocolate or cola drinks).
When should you seek some professional help?
- If your child is still wetting the bed after the age of about six or seven, and the child is unhappy or uncomfortable about it. There are good programmes at most hospitals for treating enuresis.
- Osteopaths and chiropractors can assist with these issues.
- If your child has persistent daytime wetting.
- If it is causing problems in the family.
- If your child has been dry at night for over a year and suddenly starts to wet the bed again.
- Bedwetting happens during sleep.
- Children can’t decide not to do it. Be patient!
- Most children grow out of it.
- It may be worms!