What is bedwetting?
Bedwetting, or enuresis, is a condition where a child involuntarily urinates while sleeping at an age when this would not normally happen. In most cases, bedwetting usually stops between the ages of 5 and 6 years.
Why it occurs
Bedwetting occurs during a very brief awakening or partial arousal from the deepest stages of sleep, primarily during the first 1/3 of the night. Children sleep much more deeply than adults do and therefore, have more difficulty awakening during the night. Another reason is that the bladder may be small or increase a large production of urine during the night. Bedwetting often runs in families. If one or both parents were bedwetters as children, their child is more likely to wet the bed. Bedwetting can also be a symptom of a physical problem such as a urinary tract infection, kidney problem, small bladder or a hormonal upset. For some children who wet the bed, the bladder may not hold enough urine to get them through the night.
Is it a problem?
Most children who wet the bed are completely healthy. A urine test may be the only test they may ever need. Parents of bedwetters often believe that their child sleeps too soundly. However, the amount or state of sleep a child has is no different in children who wet the bed than in children who do not. If a child wets the bed during the day or experiences pain with urination, parents should talk to their pediatrician.
Children are not at fault
Bedwetting often occurs at a very important time in a child’s life. When they are making new friends and developing their social skills, a child who wets their bed can feel insecure and embarrassed. When a child starts to refuse invitations to spend the night at a friend’s house or doesn’t go to camp because of bedwetting fears, parents need to show the benefits of being able to do these things.
How to solve it
Many children outgrow bedwetting and do not necessarily need to be treated. However, there are some treatments that can help. A bedwetting alarm can be used and is most effective for a child. When the child begins to wet the bed, moisture hits the pad and an alarm goes off. This signals the child to wake up and then go to the bathroom. The alarm conditions the child to recognize the sensation and wake up before he has to urinate. There are other treatments available such as medicine or behavioural therapy, if the situation persists but it’s best to consult your pediatrician in this case.
When children outgrow it
Bedwetting is usually outgrown and decreases after the age of five. Some children will go several months without incident. If suddenly there is a relapse and the child begins wetting the bed again - the cause may be a psychological one, such as the arrival of a new sibling or moving to a new environment.
What parents can do to help
Be positive and reassure your child that bedwetting will stop with time. The last thing you should do is punish your child or blame them for wetting their bed. Don’t let your child drink water, milk or other beverages too close to bedtime. Reward your child if he has made it through the night with a dry bed. Encourage your child to help clean up, such as taking the sheets off the bed or helping with the laundry. Providing reassurance and support for your child is extremely important and should be dealt with patience and understanding.