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Dealing with bedwetting in kids

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
15 February 2020   |   3:07 am
Bedwetting happens when a child pees during sleep without knowing it. Many children will use the toilet well during the day and long before they are dry through the night

Bedwetting happens when a child pees during sleep without knowing it. Many children will use the toilet well during the day and long before they are dry through the night. It can be many months, even years before children stay dry overnight.

Most children, but not all, stop bedwetting between the ages of 5 and 6 years old. Bedwetting is more common in boys and in deep sleepers. Why bedwetting is common with deep sleepers is that when the bladder is full, the child doesn’t wake up. Some children have smaller bladders or produce more urine during the night. Constipation can also lead to bedwetting because of the bowel presses on the bladder.

Even when a child has been fully potty- trained, it doesn’t simply help stop your child from having accidents. When you teach your child how to use the toilet, they are also learning bladder-training mechanisms. As potty-training progresses, children learn to recognise the physical and mental signs and symptoms of when they have to go.

Nighttime bladder training is a bit more challenging. Not all children are able to hold urine during their sleep or are able to wake up when they need to use the toilet. Just as daytime potty training success varies by age, so does the battle against nighttime incontinence or bed-wetting. Certain medications may offer relief, but the results are often temporary and never the first step. The best way to treat bed-wetting is through long-term solutions that can help your child learn how to wake up when they need to go.

The results of bedwetting are frustrating for parents who have to constantly wash sheets and clothing. But the most damage is psychological. Children, especially older kids who still wet the bed, can experience embarrassment and even lowered self-esteem.

While your first impulse might be to avoid discussions about bedwetting and to wash the sheets in silence, such a lack of acknowledgment can make things worse. The best thing you can do is to tell your child that accidents are okay and reassure them that you will find a solution together. Also let them know that many other kids wet the bed, and this is something they will grow out of.

Another thing to consider helping your child feel better is using bed protection or room deodoriser. Most importantly, shift times for drinking. Increase fluid intake earlier in the day and reduce it later in the day. Schedule bathroom breaks. Get your child on a regular urination schedule (every two to three hours) and right before bedtime. Be encouraging; make your child feel good about progress by consistently rewarding successes.

Eliminate bladder irritants; at night, start by eliminating caffeine (such as chocolate milk and cocoa). And if this doesn’t work, cut citrus juices, artificial flavourings, and sweeteners. Many parents don’t realise these can all irritate a child’s bladder.

Avoid thirst overload. If schools allow, give your child a water bottle so they can drink steadily all day. This avoids excessive thirst after school.

Consider if constipation is a factor. Because the rectum is right behind the bladder, difficulties with constipation can present themselves as a bladder problem, especially at night. This affects about one-third of children who wet the bed, though children are unlikely to identify or share information about constipation.

Don’t wake children up to urinate. Randomly waking up a child at night and asking them to urinate on demand isn’t the answer, either. It will only lead to more sleeplessness and frustration. Also, help them sleep on time, as children who are deep sleepers because they are simply not getting enough sleep, may result in bedwetting.

Cut back on screen time, especially before bedtime. Improving sleep hygiene can help their minds slow down so they can sleep better. Don’t resort to punishment, getting angry with your child doesn’t help them learn, as the process doesn’t need to involve conflict.

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