Hello fellow parent. You may be here today because you have a bed wetter. First of all, welcome. Second of all, I feel your pain. I know what you’re going through because I don’t just have one bed wetter, I have two. I am not an expert on the subject of bed wetting, but I have been fighting this battle for awhile now so I thought I’d at least share what I’ve learned so far.
When my son turned six and was still wetting the bed I talked to his pediatrician about it and was told that it is normal, boys are more likely to be bed wetters, and basically there isn’t anything we can do about it right now. Um, yay.
As for what is causing the bed wetting, there are various reasons why, but honestly, nobody knows for sure what is the cause. This is a list of possible causes that comes straight from the Mayo Clinic.
- A small bladder. Your child’s bladder may not be developed enough to hold urine produced during the night.
- Inability to recognize a full bladder. If the nerves that control the bladder are slow to mature, a full bladder may not wake your child — especially if your child is a deep sleeper.
- A hormone imbalance. During childhood, some kids don’t produce enough anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) to slow nighttime urine production.
- Stress. Stressful events — such as becoming a big brother or sister, starting a new school, or sleeping away from home — may trigger bed-wetting.
- Urinary tract infection. A urinary tract infection can make it difficult for your child to control urination. Signs and symptoms may include bed-wetting, daytime accidents, frequent urination, bloody urine and pain during urination.
- Sleep apnea. Sometimes bed-wetting is a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which the child’s breathing is interrupted during sleep — often because of inflamed or enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Other signs and symptoms may include snoring, frequent ear and sinus infections, sore throat, and daytime drowsiness.
- Diabetes. For a child who’s usually dry at night, bed-wetting may be the first sign of diabetes. Other signs and symptoms may include passing large amounts of urine at once, increased thirst, fatigue and weight loss in spite of a good appetite.
- Chronic constipation. A lack of regular bowel movements may make it so your child’s bladder can’t hold much urine, which can cause bed-wetting at night.
- A structural problem in the urinary tract or nervous system. Rarely, bed-wetting is related to a defect in the child’s neurological system or urinary system.
The first three are the most common reasons, but it might be helpful to have a visit to the pediatrician to ask them what they think. They could do a urinalysis to make sure there isn’t a kidney problem. Or they might check your child’s nighttime breathing pattern, sometimes sleep apnea can be the cause of nighttime wetting. When other triggers are ruled out it is probably safe to assume that the bed wetting is from immature brain-bladder communication.
You may be told that most bed wetters will out grow bed wetting, but what do you do in the meantime? Personally, I think we should create a support group where we can vent our frustrations with parents who understand! Bed wetting isn’t something we normally talk about in public (with good reason, we don’t want to embarrass our kids), but man, it can be an awful, long phase that can be worse than potty training. I lucked out with easy potty trainers, so I guess I’m paying the price now! Well, fellow parent, just know you aren’t alone and one day your kids will out grow this. Or they’ll get old enough to do their own laundry.
Here are my 10 tips for surviving a bed wetter.
1. Be Patient.
Easier said than done, I know, but this is the most important tip. Of course it also happens to be the hardest one. Bed wetting can be embarrassing for the child. Don’t make it harder on them by scolding or shaming them when they wet the bed. They aren’t wetting the bed to be naughty. It can get frustrating, but keep those frustrations to yourself because it is also super frustrating for your child. Reassure him that it is normal and lots of other kids have the same problem they just don’t talk about it. Tell them things will get better as they grow and if you can help it, don’t let other siblings tease them. It might be good to have one-on-one chats with older siblings.
2. Sticker charts/rewards.
Don’t forget to give lots of praise and pats on the back for a dry night. We have sticker charts for when my boys stay dry and when they fill up the chart they get to go pick out a prize. This makes dry nights extra special, but it can also make wet nights more discouraging because they feel like they’re missing out on their prize. Make sure to still give encouragement and support on wet nights.
3. Retire the diapers and pull ups.
As soon as your child starts having some dry nights get rid of the pull ups. I found my boys didn’t care to try if they had a pull up on. As soon as we stopped putting them in pull ups we had more dry nights and they started getting out of bed to use the potty more often. However, if they are never staying dry, save your sanity and put them back in the pullups. Don’t feel like a quitter, just try again in a few months. It’s a tough balance, but you have to stay sane as well! 🙂
4. It’s okay to get out of bed to pee.
When our boys were little we made a rule that they couldn’t get out of bed after we tucked them in, of course we gave them that rule so they wouldn’t get up and play all night. We realized once they were older that we need to revise the rule. They now know that they will never get in trouble if they get out of bed to pee. Also, it’s helpful to have a night light in their room, the hallway or the bathroom so they can find their way in the night.
5. Go to the bathroom before bed.
This might be a silly one, but of course it is needed. Get in the habit of peeing before bed. Our boys pee after they brush teeth.
6. Start taking baths or showers in the morning.
We used to be night bathers, but that is no longer an option. If we take a bath at night we will most likely have to take one in the morning as well, and that just doesn’t make sense. This means you may have to adjust your schedule a little to wake up earlier than usual.
7. Do laundry daily.
You’re just going to have to make daily laundry the norm. You will most likely have wet jammies, sheets, and blankets daily and if you don’t plan on at least one load of laundry per day, you will be so overwhelmed on laundry day. On that awesome day when your child stays dry at night still throw a load of laundry in the washing machine because you don’t want to be playing catch up later.
8. Have an extra set of sheets.
You will be doing laundry every time there is an accident and if you stay on it you can get the sheets back on the bed before your kids go to bed at night, but it’s nice to have an extra set of sheets (or more) in case your child wakes up in the middle of the night to let you know they are wet. You can easily take the soiled sheets to the washing machine and have another set to replace them right away. It’s also nice because there have been a few times where I will throw everything in the washing machine and then get busy and when bedtime rolls around I still don’t have dry sheets. Even if you’re doing laundry daily you can get behind. Have an extra set so you don’t drive yourself crazy!
9. Use Mattress Protectors!
Save yourself a lot of work by putting mattress protectors on their beds. I like to use the plastic ones because they are easier to clean while still being very effective. I have found that the cloth ones still leak to the mattress. The plastic ones are a little noisier, but they haven’t seemed to bother my boys.
10. Disinfectant Wipes and Febreeze.
Even when you wash your child’s sheets when they wet the bed you might start noticing their bedroom still smells like pee. This is where disinfectant wipes and Febreeze come in handy. I use disinfectant wipes on the mattress protectors every time there is an accident just to clean it, but it also really helps with the smell. You can’t put the mattress protectors in the washing machine, so this is the way you have to clean them. You can also use a mild soapy solution, but I prefer the ease of the disinfectant wipes. Even after wiping down the mattress protectors and washing the sheets daily you might find that the room still smells like pee and that is why I suggest lifting the mattress protector and spraying the mattress a few times with Febreeze. We’ve never had the mattress protector leak, but for some reason it still smells. After using Febreeze I haven’t had smelly rooms anymore.
You may notice I didn’t add restrict liquids to my tips. We tried restricting water after dinner time and it didn’t make a difference at all for my kids. I don’t like the idea of restricting water from a thirsty child, so personally I don’t do this step. If this is something that you feel would be good for your child, then I think it’s worth a shot, as long as you know they are getting enough water through out the day. One thing that I believe you should do is restrict all caffeinated and sugary drinks. They can make your child urinate more. They are also awful for your child’s teeth, but we’ll save that for a different post. 🙂
There are many different bed wetting alarms you can get to help train your child to wake up to go to the bathroom at night. I haven’t started this with my boys yet, but I plan on starting soon with my oldest. His pediatrician told me these kinds of alarms aren’t effective until the child is 8 or older. He said it doesn’t hurt to try, but typically that is when the brain can register what is going on. You can talk to your pediatrician to get their opinion because honestly, I haven’t tried them so I don’t really know. Here are some of the best rated ones from Amazon:
Now I want to hear from you. Let me know if you have or have had a bed wetter. What has/hasn't worked for you?