Taking Bedwetting seriously
Worried about your child wetting the bed?
Bedwetting is a common problem, and every parent faces it.
Yes, bedwetting is embarrassing, frustrating and often a messy experience for both parents and the child.
Many parents carry the confusion whether to worry about their child’s bedwetting or not.
So when do you worry about your child wetting the bed?
Bedwetting is normal for children below the age of seven but, if a child continues to wet the bed after the age of seven, it is time to take a note but nothing severe to worry about. In cases like these most of the parents adopt the ‘Wait and See Approach’, hoping the problem will disappear on its own. Whereas only one-third of parents take their child to see the doctor.
However, if the issue continues into teenage and adulthood, then the problem is severe because a thirteen or fourteen-year-old kid wetting the bed is not normal and approaching a doctor becomes necessary.
Let’s look at the causes of bedwetting
- 75% of children who struggle with bedwetting have a parent or an immediate family member who also wet the bed as a child.
- If a child’s urinary bladder is under-developed and not mature enough to hold urine produced during the night, it also results in bedwetting
- There are certain sets of nerves in the brain of children that tell them whether their bladder is full or not and if these nerves aren’t completely developed then they might become a cause for bedwetting.
- ‘Urinary Tract’ infections are also a cause for bedwetting in children. You may notice frequent or painful urination, pink/red or cloudy urine, foul-smelling urine, urine accidents during the day.
- The antidiuretic hormone is released from the pituitary gland and acts on the kidneys to decrease urine production. Babies don’t produce these hormones and thus urinate throughout the night. But as kids grow older and they start producing these hormones. These under developed hormone production also results in bedwetting.
- Sleep apnea is another cause for bedwetting which disrupts sleep patterns and also disrupts hormones including anti-diuretic hormone.
- If a child is usually dry at night then suddenly starts wetting the bed, it could be one of the first signs of diabetes.
- The structure of the kidneys and bladder or the nerves which functions with them may have developed abnormally.
Effects of prolonged bedwetting
As parents, probably everyone worries about the effect prolonged bedwetting can have on a child.
Some of the most common effects include:
- Disrupted Sleep
- Stress on the Family/Child Relationship
- Embarrassment or Anxiety
- Prolonged bedwetting may Influence a child’s Self-Esteem and their Willingness to Develop Social Relationships.
- Hampering social activities that include camping, sleepovers or overnight activities.
- Prolonged contact with urine soaked clothing and bedding and can cause rashes
How to cope with bedwetting?
The problem of bedwetting can be made worse when a family doesn’t cope well. Although bedwetting has many effects and poses various problems to both the child and parent, there are certain things parents should remember, certain things they must do and certain things they must avoid doing.
What should be done…
- Always celebrate your child’s efforts, even if it doesn’t work out as planned, take it easy. Never discourage them or yell at them
- Keep a protective cover on your child’s mattress under the sheet.
- Use pyjamas that are easy to remove. Keep a change of pyjamas and extra bedding next to the bed.
- Take advantage of disposable or reusable absorbent underpants. Many parents find the cost is well worth it to avoid nightly clean-ups.
What should be avoided…
- Parents should avoid talking about their child’s bedwetting in front of others. Being sensitive to their feelings will help a stressed or anxious child through this difficult time.
- Don’t let siblings or others tease a child about their bedwetting.
- Failing to plan for bedwetting will frustrate everyone. So always be prepared.
Treatment and remedies
Families need to remember that bedwetting takes time to improve. Patience and understanding are crucial and one of the most important things that they can do. Here are some simple but important remedies, treatments and lifestyle changes that parents can do to help their child decrease bedwetting and increase their amount of dry nights.
- Encouraging the child to drink water early and throughout the day but decrease the amount of water after dinner and especially before bed.
- Teaching the child to use the toilet on a regular basis. Going every two hours during a day can help children to avoid the feeling of urgency and teach them good bathroom habits.
- Rewarding the children – Each morning the child wakes up dry, praise them. This will make the children feel good.
- Avoid giving caffeine to your child. Caffeine can stimulate the bladder so avoid it as much as possible.
- Bathe daily – Giving a morning shower or bath to the child can eliminate stale urine on the skin, which will prevent the unpleasant urine smell and keep their skin away from getting irritated and developing rashes.
- Bedwetting treatment options – Bedwetting alarms, medications prescribed by the doctors.
When to talk to a child’s doctor?
Most kids will outgrow bed-wetting on their own. But that doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t consult doctors. It’s a good idea to talk to a child’s doctor if:
- Parents suspect the child has a urinary tract infection
- The child was previously dry at night for months together but has begun bed-wetting again.
- The child is experiencing day time accidents as well.
- The child is older than seven and still wetting the bed.
Bedwetting is common but is stressful and has many negative effects on the children and their families. And the worse thing about bedwetting is it carries a stigma. Seeking help early is the best strategy for ensuring that the child gets the right treatment and bedwetting worries will disappear for the child and their family. Not only will they have dry nights but the child’s self-esteem also increases and family life also improves when there are no bed wetting worries.