Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis, can be shameful for many school-age children. There are many physical and emotional reasons why kids wet the bed. Bedwetting can cause extreme emotional shame for children, especially during campouts and sleepovers. They may also sense frustration from even the most patient parent, who must constantly wash and replace dirty sheets and purchase mattress replacements and disposable diapers. To better understand bedwetting in children, you will find below tips and facts to help you.
- According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, most children stay dry at night by three years of age.
- About 13% of six-year olds still wet the bed, while about 5% of ten-year olds do.
- Usually, boys wet the bed more often than girls, and it is usually has a genetic link.
Primary Nocturnal Enuresis (PNE)
Primary Nocturnal Enuresis (PNE) means that a child does not wet the bed out of a neurological, emotional, or medical abnormality. Often, the child’s bladder is just underdeveloped and the hormones that naturally reduce urine production at night alert a child to wake up to urinate are lower than average. The child may also be an especially deep sleeper.
Secondary Nocturnal Enuresis (SNE)
Secondary Nocturnal Enuresis (SNE) occurs when a child wets the bed after experiencing at least a six-month period of dryness. SNE is usually caused by:
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Bladder problems
- Smaller than normal bladder
- Insufficient anti-diuretic hormone production
- Sleep apnea
- Down syndrome
- Premature toilet training
Severe stress, fear, sadness, or insecurity may also cause SNE. This may be caused by sexual abuse, a death in the family, extreme bullying, divorce, or change in home or schools.
Tips for Parents of a Bedwetter
There are ways how a parent can help his child with bedwetting:
- Limit the child’s liquids before bedtime.
- Make sure he uses the restroom before going to bed.
- Wake the child once during the night and walk him to the bathroom to empty his bladder.
- Purchase a pad for the bed, which senses moisture and sets off an alarm, alerting the child to use the restroom.
- Use diapers or waterproof sheets.
- Use a motivational system to reward dry nights and be sure to praise him.
- Do not yell at or spank the child for wetting the bed, but do ask him to help clean up the mess.
- Practice bladder stretching exercises for those with small bladders.
- Ask the family physician for a prescription. The most common medications prescribed for bedwetting are Desmopressin, an anti-diuretic hormone, or tricyclic anti-depressants such as amitriptyline or nortriptyline; however, every medication has side effects, which should be discussed at length.
As frustrating as bedwetting may be for both parents and children, there are things that can be done to reduce embarrassment and frustration. Bedwetting is largely a normal phase of life that most children will outgrow.