Is Bed Wetting a Problem for Your Child?

Although bed wetting (or primary nocturnal enuresis) is normal for preschoolers and plagues close to half of America's three-year olds, it is considered a serious problem by most parents. While waking up to a crying child who has wet the sheets in the middle of the night can be tiresome, imagine how your child feels.

Bed-wetting happens. I say this because bed-wetting is usually caused by poor bladder control--either the child's bladder is under-developed or he is unable to wake himself in time to get up and empty it.

There are other possible reasons for bed wetting and the biggest one is stress. Abrupt changes in a child's life or schedule can cause a child who normally wakes up dry to start bed wetting. Events like divorce, the illness of a parent, a change in day care providers, etc can make a child who is potty-trained revert to earlier behavior.

Although a typical fear is that the bed wetter has some disease, bladder infections affect less than 2% of children who wet the bed. It is fairly easy to spot a bladder infection--look for straining during urination, complaints of pain or urine that looks cloudy or is tinged with blood. A child who has a bladder or kidney infection may also wet himself during the day. Children who have diabetes are also prone to bed-wetting.

bed wetting

Another reason for bed wetting is more ominous--children who have been sexually molested often wet the bed. If your child exhibits a sudden change in his ability to make it through the night without wetting the bed, it is best to take him to his pediatrician to rule out diseases and inappropriate touching.

Bed wetting Considerations:

1. Do you have a family history of bed wetting? Did you or your spouse or siblings wet the bed as a child? Bed wetting is common and is often seen within families.

2. Make a chart of how much your child drinks, what sorts of activities he engages in throughout the day and how often he urinates to see if any patterns emerge. For instance, does your child tend to wet the bed when she's had more to drink than usual? (In particular, watch out for orange juice and caffeinated soda.)

3. Does your child have a problem with bed wetting when there has been an upsetting incident the day before? What you think is stressful may be different for your child. Remember that overstimulation is perceived as stress. For instance, if your child spends the night at a relative's home after meeting many unfamiliar family members, he may wet the bed.

What Parents Can Do about Child Bed Wetting:

1. Refrain from humiliating your child. Accept that this is something you must go through as a family. It is highly unlikely that your child is wetting the bed on purpose, so show compassion and sensitivity.

2. Make sure your child is properly hydrated throughout the day, so you can refrain from giving him excessive fluids before bedtime. Try to stop giving him fluids two hours before bed if possible. Make sure he urinates right before climbing into bed.

3. If you have toddler bed wetting probems, encourage your child to wear training pants, until he is able to wake up dry three nights in a row. Chart his progress to encourage him. Return to the training pants if he wets himself and start counting days all over again, but don't make him feel like a failure.

4. Use a plastic cover on the bed. If your child wets the bed, you can change the sheets right away or place a towel over the wet spot and wash them in the morning. If your child insists on having clean sheets, have him help you change the bed.

5. Some medical professionals think that a child who wets the bed may have a problem with his Circadian Rhythms. The thinking is that such a child drops into a deep state of sleep so quickly that he cannot wake himself to urinate. According to these professionals, the solution is to awaken your child about an hour after he's gone to sleep. Give him a kissand talk to him until his eyes open, then let him drift back to sleep. It is believed that this will help him go into deeper levels more progressively, so he so he can wake himself if he feels the urge to urinate.

4. Explain to older siblings that bed wetting is not something their sibling can help. Tell them not to tease. Engage them in encouraging the bed wetter when he wakes up with dry pants.

5. Proceed with confidence. Know that with time and maturity, your child will overcome child bed wetting.

6. If you suspect that your child has a urinary tract infections, diabetes, or some other medical problem or has been exposed to an untrustworthy individual, take him to your pediatrician.

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