Your toddler is bright, active and has been toilet trained since age 2 except for wetting the bed at night. It is frustrating and uncomfortable for both of you. The first thing you should know is that bed-wetting does not usually indicate any medical problems in children below the age of 6.
Most children are able to stay dry all night at around age three. Younger children often do very well with toilet-training during the day but continue to wet the bed at night. This can be a source of stress and concern for both parents and child, but it is fairly common.
Your child does not wet the bed on purpose. None of us enjoy sleeping in wet clothes or in a wet bed! It is important to explain to your child that accidents happen and he will soon be able to stay dry at night.
As stressful as it may be to have your child awake to soggy sheets, doctors seldom consider bed-wetting a problem before age 6 or 7. While most children are completely toilet-trained by age 4, for some developing complete bladder control may take longer.
Fifteen percent of children up to age 5 will wet the bed, at least occasionally. By ages 8-11 only five percent of children continue to have problems with night-time bladder control.
There are a few risk factors that may contribute to your child’s bed-wetting. While bed-wetting can occur with all children, it is more common for boys to wet the bed. If both parents wet the bed as toddlers, there is an eighty percent chance their child will wet the bed. Children with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are also at an increased risk for bedwetting.
If your child continues to wet the bed after age 6, you may want to consult your doctor. Chances are he will recommend some simple steps you can take at home to help your child stay dry at night. Most children will simply outgrow bed-wetting in time.
If your child starts wetting the bed at night after being able stay dry at night for a period of time, do see your doctor to rule out medical problems. Bed-wetting that is accompanied by excessive thirst, painful urination or pink urine may be signs of urinary infections or more serious problems such as diabetes.
There are also emotional reasons why a child who has been dry at night may begin wetting the bed. Changes in routines are often the trigger to nighttime wetting for some children. A move to a new home, a new sibling, or a change in school may lead to stress and nighttime wetting.
If your doctor has ruled out any medical causes for bed-wetting, there are some things you can do to help your child stay dry at night.
Limit evening fluid intake. There is no need to severely limit your child’s fluids during the day; doing so could lead to dehydration. See to it your child get adequate fluids during the day but try limiting him to eight ounces after 5 p.m.
Avoid caffeine. Caffeine can trigger excessive urination. It is easy to remember that colas, or sports drinks contain caffeine but many snack items such as chocolate also contain caffeine. Read labels if you are unsure.
Encourage voiding before bedtime. Establish a bedtime routine that includes encouraging your child to void before their nighttime story and then again right before falling asleep. Remind him that he can get up at night to use the toilet. Nightlights or even a small flashlight can help him go to the bathroom and back easily.
Treat constipation. Chronic constipation can also have an impact on bladder control at night. If your child is constipated, ask your doctor about stool softeners and increase your child’s intake of fruits and vegetables.
Make cleanup easy. Protect his mattress with a waterproof mattress cover or waterproof pad. Use overnight disposable underwear and keep dry pajamas handy.
Offer support and encouragement. Remember, your child’s bed-wetting is not done on purpose. Offer your support and encouragement. Remind him to follow bedtime routines and acknowledge his progress towards remaining dry at night.
Punishing your child for something he cannot control does no good and may actually prolong the struggle by adding stress to going to bed at night. Praise him for dry nights and helping to clean up after any accidents.
In time your child will be enjoying dry nights and you will both rest easier.
Bed-wetting, (n.d.), Mayo Clinic-online, Retrieved at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bed-wetting/DS00611/DSECTION=coping-and-support
Bedwetting, (n.d.), American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry-online, Retrieved at http://aacap.org/page.ww?name=Bedwetting§ion=Facts+for+Families