BED WETTING ADVICE
Did you know bed wetting is a common childhood problem. It effects 5-10% of children under 10 years of age and up to 2% of older children and adults.
What causes bed wetting?
What causes bed wetting is not completely understood, it is important that blame is not put on the child or parents.
The potential reasons for bed wetting are:
• A child that has difficulty waking at night
• Children that do not get strong signals from their body to urinate or that do not know how to interpret the signals
• Some children have kidneys that produce too much urine at night
• An irritable bladder that contracts too easily causing urination, an irritable bladder can be aggravated by:
– Consumed bladder irritants which may be different for everyone, potential irritants are. :caffeine, citrus, carbonated drinks, sugar, artificial sweeteners
– Concentrated urine from dehydration
• Drinking excessively especially at night before bed
• Genetic factors
How can bed wetting be managed?
Bed wetting can cause some self-esteem issues. It also might prevent children from participating in overnight type activities, such as school camps.
Many children outgrow the problem but it can take many years. The good news is there are treatments that may help improve bed wetting sooner.
After the age of 6 years some management may include:
- Addressing any bladder irritants, especially treating constipation
- If a child has day time wetting this should be addressed before bed wetting
- Drinking adequate water for their size over the day and encouraging children to go to the toilet when the urge to urinate occurs. With adequate fluids children should urinate 5-6 times from waking to going to bed.
- Sometimes having a water bottle marked at different points that indicates how much they should have drunk by a certain time can be helpful. An alarm on a watch may be helpful to remind them to visit the toilet too.
- The child needs to understand that bed wetting is not their fault. Children should not be punished when wetting the bed, a sticker reward chart may be helpful for when they have a successful night.
- Children may be involved in assisting to strip the bed and change their pants/underwear, but not as a punishment. It’s more for them to understand what has happened.
- It is important to avoid pull ups or pads as children may not notice they are urinating. They do not work with bed alarms either. Using protective mattress/bed protectors can help to save on some washing.
Management will also aim to help the child find ways to still participate in social activities.
- Such as using pull ups or pads for special occasions and educating adults that may be helping care for your child.
- Helping the child to understand their body cues and becoming more aware of how their body works to produce urine and faeces.
- A bed wetting alarm, may assist to wake your child when they start wetting. This can train the brain to wake with the urge to urinate. There are different types of alarms available. Your physiotherapist can assist you make the right selection.
- Children that have other developmental delays or sensory processing challenges should also seek assistance for these problems as they may be contributing to bed wetting.
- Medications are available which reduce the amount of urine produced at night. Your GP could speak to you about this further.