11 Reasons For Bedwetting (And What To Do About It)
Is your child wetting the bed at night? Are you struggling to help them stay dry? Maybe they were dry for a while but bedwetting started again?
You're not alone. While some kids might be dry at night soon after potty training, others might still experience bedwetting at the age of 7 or even later.
While it can be frustrating for you and your child, it is important to remember that it is often a normal part of a child's development. Patience and understanding are the key to success.
Most children outgrow bedwetting on their own but some need a little help. In some cases, bedwetting might be a sign of an underlying medical condition, but that is only identified in about 1% of children who experience bedwetting.
11 Possible Causes For Bedwetting
There are a few factors that could contribute to the bedwetting problem:
- Your child's bladder might not be developed enough to hold urine through the night.
- Hormonal imbalance. ADH is responsible for slowing down the production of urine during the night. If this is identified, the GP might prescribe medication to regulate hormone production.
- Nerves controlling the bladder are not mature yet so a full bladder might not wake your child up.
- Infections might make it hard to control urination. Symptoms might include daytime accidents, painful urination, frequent urination, red or pink urine.
- Sleep apnea - bed-wetting can sometimes be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (a condition where large tonsils interrupt a child's breathing during the sleep). Other symptoms might include snoring and drowsiness at daytime.
- Diabetes - bedwetting might be the first sign of diabetes for children who are usually dry at night. Your child can also have other symptoms like passing a large amount of urine at once, increased thirst, fatigue and losing weight without any diet change and a good appetite.
- Muscles responsible for controlling urine are also responsible for stool elimination. If your child experienced long-term constipation, these muscles might not work properly and cause bedwetting at night.
- Bedwetting can be caused by a defect in the child's neurological or urinary system. These cases are rare.
While bedwetting can affect anyone, it's twice as common in boys than girls. Additionally, if both parents experienced bedwetting in their childhood, the child has a 70% chance of it happening to them as well. Other factors include:
- Stress and anxiety. If your child was dry at night but there were big events in their life like moving a house, birth of a new sibling, or school anxiety, they might experience bedwetting.
- Medical conditions like autism or Down syndrome
- Children with ADHD often experience bedwetting as well although the medical connection has not been found yet.
As a guideline, you should seek medical advice if:
- your child still wets the bed at 7 years old
- your child starts wetting the bed after being dry for a few months
- your child is very thirsty, experiences pain during urination, has pink or red urine, hard stools
Although it can be frustrating, bedwetting that's not caused by a medical issue doesn't pose health risks. Remember that your support is very important. Your child might feel guilty and experience low self-esteem especially if they start missing out on social events including sleep-overs and camps. Your child might also experience a rash on their bottom or genital area especially if they don't wake up and continue sleeping in wet pyjamas.
If your child was dry but suddenly started having accidents through the night, it could have been caused by a stressful event in their life. Try talking to your child about the situation and how they feel about it. Sometimes, it is enough to solve the bedwetting problem. Do not punish your child for an accident but assure them that one day it will stop. Let your child be responsible if it's age-appropriate. They can put wet bedding and clothes in the washing machine and change their own bed. If you have a PeapodMat, it's perfect for this as one of the customers explained:
"PeapodMat stays put on the bed and keeps the bed dry. My 6 yr old can sort himself out during the night if he has an accident and he is happier he doesn't need his whole bed changed." ➡️Shop PeapodMats
Before choosing the best way to help your child and approach the problem, it is important to identify the type of bedwetting. Bedwetting that has been ongoing since the early years is called primary. Bedwetting that started after a child was dry for 6 months is called secondary.
- Encourage your child to go to the toilet 4-7 times a day, including right before bedtime
- Use safe washable bed pads
- Make sure your child can get to the toilet by themselves at night, night-light in their room and on the way to the bathroom can help
- Do not wake or carry your child to the toilet - this won't help in the long run
- Keep track of wet and dry nights to motivate your child
- Try to stop using pull-ups or nappies as the child will think that it doesn't really matter if they pee in a nappy; it doesn't feel as wet as wet pyjamas.
- Good preparation is the key - lots of ready bed changes, waterproof and washable bed pads, pyjamas
- Don't give your child a drink after dinner time
- Avoid giving your child caffeine drinks as they stimulate the production of urine
- Explain to your child every step of the way. Stories about how their body works will definitely interest them.
If you have tried everything and are still struggling, or it is getting too much, contact your GP.
Did we miss anything? What worked for your child?
Sources: mayoclinic.org, healthline.com, NHS.uk, webmd.com
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.