Bedwetting isn’t something many people like to think of, nor admit it affects their child, yet actually it’s common. Over 500,000 children in the UK are affected and it’s more than three times more common in boys. If your child suffers, read on to discover what the causes and solutions could be.
Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis as it’s also known, is the involuntary passing of urine at night. Frequent bedwetting is common in the under 6 age group, with about 15-20% of all 5-6 year olds wetting the bed. Boys are three times more likely to be affected, as they’re often slower to develop. Although the issue usually recedes as children get older, 2-3% of 14 year olds are affected and 1% of over 15s.
What Causes Bedwetting?
A variety of factors may be involved in bedwetting. These include:
- A slow developing bladder muscle. This is one of the most common reasons and occurs when the bladder muscle contracts and empties the bladder when it’s only half full. In the large majority of cases, this isn’t a long term problem – it’s usually just caused by a child not having yet developed the necessary nerve and muscle control.
- A high production of urine. Some children produce a lot of urine at night. This is due to the fact that the mechanisms that reduce urine production are slow to develop.
- Genetics. Bedwetting can run in families and the likelihood of a child wetting the bed is 40% if one parent had it and 70% if both parents were bedwetters.
- Anxiety or being upset. Some children wet the bed if their anxious, worried or upset by something.
- A urine infection. Sometimes having a urine infection or cystitis can cause bedwetting.
- Diabetes. An underlying case of diabetes can also cause bedwetting.
What Can You Do?
It’s natural to worry about your child, but if they’re under the age of 5, don’t worry too much as hopefully the bedwetting stage will pass. A crucial thing is to not let your child feel bad about what’s happening and certainly to not punish them for it. They may be feeling bad, guilty or upset about what’s happening and the less fuss you make out of it, the better.
It can help to have a chat with your child about why bedwetting occurs, how common it is and that other children his age are probably having the same issue. Most importantly, let them know that they’ll grow out of it over time and, if you used to have bedwetting problems, maybe share your experiences too. Above all, let them know they’re not alone and that it’s not something to be scared or worried about.
Other tips for dealing with it include:
- Use waterproof mattress covers.
- Make sure your child can easily get to the toilet in the night of they need to.
- Consider encouraging your child to go to the toilet when you go to bed (e.g. 10.30/11.15pm). You can always lift them onto the toilet if they’re too sleepy at this stage.
- Consider using disposable padded absorbent pads, which can be worn under nightwear.
- Encourage your child to drink plenty during the day. It can help the bladder hold larger quantities and will prevent drinking too much in the evenings. But don’t restrict drinks in the evening if your child is thirsty.
- Help your child train his bladder. Once a day encourage him to drink lots, and then hold on for as long as possible before going to the toilet.
- Try using a reward system for every night the bed stays dry.
- Get a bedwetting alarm. This will ring as soon as the bed gets wet and can encourage a child to develop the habit of waking and getting up in the night, rather than losing control of their bladder.
If you’re worried about bedwetting or the problem continues, talk to your doctor, as they’re there to help. There may be tests that could help or medication that your child needs.
Above all, don’t panic! Most children successfully grow out of bedwetting and go on to have long and dry nights.