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Bed Wetter

QUESTION: My child is a consistent bed wetter. What can I do?


Over five million school-age children in the United States are consistent bed wetters. Apparently, fifteen percent of children over the age of three have problems wetting the bed, most of whom are boys. Becoming a bed wetter is sometimes genetic, just as inheriting the parent's color of eyes and hair. If bed wetting continues after the age of five or six, it usually stops by the early teen years. Most children who wet the bed do not have emotional problems. Knowing this can be a big relief to parents.

Parents can take steps to help guide the child through the struggle of bed wetting. The first is to know that children rarely wet the bed on purpose. Second, children need encouragement from the parent in order to work towards keeping a dry bed at night.

After a parent understands those two steps, here are some others that may lead to dry nights:
  • Limit the child's fluids to only two ounces before bedtime.
  • Have the child go to the bathroom before going to bed.
  • Get the child up during the night to go to the bathroom.
  • Praise the child when the bed stays dry through the night.
  • Do not punish, tease, or criticize the child for bed wetting.
  • Have clear discussions with the child, assuring them that together, the parent and child will overcome the bed-wetting process.
  • Have a flashlight by the bed for the child to use or utilize nightlights to illuminate the trip to the bathroom.
  • Use waterproof protective mattress covers and padding for the bed.
  • Use large towels in the center of the bed to soak up most of the urine.
  • Have extra clean linens and blankets close to the child's bed for ease in clean up and fewer disturbances to the rest of the family.
  • Make sure the child drinks plenty of fluids during the day to maintain hydration.
  • Avoid caffeine (soda) and chocolate after lunchtime, because caffeine has diuretic effects. These foods will cause the kidneys to excrete more urine.
  • Have the child help with the clean up. This will teach them appreciation of the parent's efforts, responsibility and how to deal with bed wetters when they become parents.
  • Have the child hold the urine in the bladder a few minutes longer each morning upon waking. This will strengthen the bladder muscles to retain the urine through the night.
  • Make sure the child gets adequate amounts of sleep. Some children cease wetting the bed with only thirty minutes of extra sleep.
  • Use deodorizers to alleviate the urine odor.
These are steps that doctors and nurses will tell you take. In addition to these steps, parents may also want to make an appointment with the family physician or pediatrician. There, they will have other tests, medications, and treatments to assist with the elimination of bed-wetting.

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