Why Does Bedwetting Happen and What Can Parents Do About it?

Bedwetting – also known as nocturnal enuresis – is very common in kids under the age of 10 years. In fact, there are an estimated 5 million children across the United States who wet the bed. Among them, are 20 percent of five-year-olds, 10 percent of 7-year-olds, and even 5 percent of 10-year-olds. Those statistics are from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Still, when it’s your child wetting the bed, the statistics aren’t your main concern. You want to know that your child is healthy and that this won’t be a chronic problem that will continue into later life.

The most common reason that kids will wet the bed is that your child’s body is developing at its own rate and overnight bladder control simply hasn’t caught up yet. It’s nothing to worry about and it’s not something that can be rushed. Still, if you are concerned, it doesn’t hurt to talk to a doctor to make sure there isn’t another underlying cause.

Other reasons can include drinking too much close to bedtime, which can cause too much urine production during the night. That said, it’s important to note that this is only the case if your child is drinking large amounts of fluids right before bed. Restricting fluids will not stop bedwetting from happening if it is caused by another factor such as natural body development.

Children who sleep exceptionally deeply are prone to bedwetting because a full bladder often isn’t enough to wake them up. Again, this is something that typically fades with age, as extremely deep sleepers won’t usually stay that way throughout their entire lives.

Kids can also be at a higher risk of wetting the bed at times when their typical lifestyle or routines are being disrupted. If your little one doesn’t usually wet the bed but suddenly starts, it could be because of stress, being overly tired before bed, feeling disrupted from a large change in life such as starting daycare, school, or having a new sibling, or it could even be an indicator of a minor illness such as a cold.

There are also certain underlying medical conditions that can make bedwetting more common. Urinary tract infections and constipation are the most common and are quite easy to treat. That said, it can also be caused by more serious conditions such as diabetes.  Therefore, if your little one has other symptoms in addition to bedwetting, a checkup at the doctor is a good next step.

No matter what the reason is for your child’s bedwetting, there isn’t anything that can be done to force him or her to stay dry overnight. Most children simply need to grow out of it.  This can take weeks, months, or even years.

The most important thing you can do is to remain calm – even when it means changing the bed in the middle of the night – and make sure your son or daughter does not feel upset by what is happening. This is why the majority of pediatricians won’t even recommend any treatments for bedwetting in children younger than 7 years old – it’s a natural part of growing up.

To try to create as little disruption as possible, consider using washable underwear meant for kids who wet the bed. Training pants can be very helpful for smaller kids, but there are also reusable or disposable types of underwear meant for children who are slightly older, some of which include an absorbent insert that can be washed or thrown away.

A waterproof mattress protector and pillow protector can also be very helpful for keeping nighttime bedding changes as straightforward as possible. IMG_2158_1024x1024When all you need to do is change the sheets, it’s a lot easier than trying to clean a wet mattress or damp pillow.

Don’t forget to make sure your child uses the toilet before going to bed. Make it a regular part of your son or daughter’s bedtime routine. This way, your little one will start off with an empty bladder.

When bedwetting does happen, be understanding and reassuring. Make certain your child knows that it wasn’t his or her fault and that this happens to many children.  Punishing or embarrassing your kid for something that is completely involuntary will only lead to stress which can prolong the problem.

For 90 percent of children, bedwetting will correct itself by the time they reach 7 years old. Hang in there. You’re not alone.


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