The secrecy about bed wetting makes it tougher for both the kids and parents, causing the kids to think they’re the only ones who wet their beds, which makes them feel guilty and ashamed. Yet wet sheets, an embarrassed child and frustrated parents are a familiar scene in many homes. For millions of children, with twice as many boys as girls, bed wetting or nocturnal enuresis may be an inevitable part of growing up.
Unlike babies who produce urine around the clock, toddlers start developing nighttime bladder control once they start to produce ‘antidiuretic hormone’ (ADH) which inhibits urine production. In addition, to becoming more sensitive to the feeling that they need to urinate, produced by stretching of the bladder walls.
Bed wetting occurs in 15 to 20% of all 5-year-old children, and in 10% of 7 year olds. But don’t worry, most of the time it’s just delayed maturation. Children develop nighttime bladder control, at different ages.
Understanding the Causes of Bed wetting
Wet beds leave bad feelings all around, and to make matters worse, some frustrated parents believe that bed-wetting is their child’s fault. It is estimated that 35% of bed wetters are punished by their parents. But no child wets the bed on purpose, or from being too lazy to get up to pee. Understanding bed-wetting’s causes and that it is not your child’s fault is the first step in dealing with this common childhood problem.
- Runs in the family: for every three out of four kids, either a parent or a first-degree relative also wet the bed in childhood.
- Delayed bladder maturation: simply put, the brain and bladder gradually learn to communicate with each other during sleep and if the nerves that control the bladder are slow to mature, a full bladder may not wake your child.
- Low anti-diuretic hormone (ADH): some kids don’t produce enough to slow nighttime urine production.
- A small bladder: your kid’s bladder may not be developed enough to hold the amount of urine produced during the night.
- Anxiety and stress: sometimes a child who has been dry at night will begin to wet the bed again, this is triggered by stressful events such as school problems, divorce or the birth of a new sibling.
- Deep sleepers: some children sleep so deeply, their brain doesn’t get the signal that their bladder is full.
- Chronic constipation: can cause the muscles to become dysfunctional and contribute to bed-wetting at night.
- Diabetes: for a child who’s usually dry at night, bed-wetting may be the first sign of diabetes. Other signs and symptoms may include increased thirst, fatigue and weight loss in spite of a good appetite.
Tips that can Lead to Dry Nights
The majority of kids who are wet their beds at night have nothing medically wrong with them. So while waiting for nature to take its course and your child to outgrow bed wetting. Try these tips to help keep your child dry and prevent any emotional damage.
- Limit fluid intake: cut back on drinks containing caffeine, like cola or hot chocolate, in the evening hours. Caffeine can increase the rate at which urine is produced.
- Use the bathroom before bed: encourage your child to pee before bedtime, so that she starts the night with a completely empty bladder.
- Set an alarm: you need to make sure your child wakes up and goes to the bathroom during the night.
- Don’t pressure or punish your child: the more pressure you put on your child, the worse it becomes.
- Emphasize to your child that bed wetting is not his fault and that he will outgrow it.
- Enforce a strict no-teasing rule about the bed wetting. Explain to siblings that bed wetting is something their brother doesn’t have control over and that he needs everybody’s love and support.
- Praise and reward your child for staying dry.
When to Consult a Doctor
Nocturnal enuresis is mostly a developmental issue. Only 1% of all bed wetting problems are due to diabetes, infections, or abnormalities of the bladder or kidney.
Consult a doctor right away if bed-wetting is accompanied with painful urination, unusual thirst, pink or red urine, or snoring.