Tips for Bedwetting and Your Child

As the parent of a newly potty-trained toddler, I expected accidents. In fact, we haven’t even moved into the nighttime sleeping without a pull-up phase. But I was pleasantly surprised when my almost 3-year-old daughter suddenly went from diaper baby to full-time potty-pro seemingly overnight. Of course, we went to the bathroom 50 times per day, but not one accident. So I was a little shocked when her daycare started asking that I bring extra clothing to school each day to help with the accidents. Accidents? We hadn’t experienced one at home, yet each day she’d been having them at school. I just didn’t get it, until one lazy Saturday at naptime. There we were all snuggled up together reading stories when we both gave in to the cozy quiet. We had been asleep for more than an hour when she started rolling around in bed. Suddenly my daughter’s little eyes popped open. She looked around, and, before I knew it, we were both lying in a soggy, warm puddle. YUCK! And then it hit me; she was a bedwetter.

The following week, I spoke with her teacher and, sure enough, each accident had happened during naptime. We’ve been working together on a solution that includes a mandatory potty break right before settling down, but I know with toddlers accidents happen. And it’s not just toddlers. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 20 percent of 5-year-olds and 10 percent of 7-year-olds wet the bed. And it’s twice as common in boys as it is in girls. Sometimes bedwetting can even carry into the teenage and adult years.

Causes of Bedwetting

While there are several factors that can play in to bedwetting, one of the most important is genetics. That’s right. Researchers have found that bedwetting most often has a genetic component. If both parents wet their beds after the age of six, their child has about a 75 percent chance of doing the same; if only one parent wet the bed, the child has a 44 percent chance.

The actual causes of bedwetting are physical, which means the child has no control over them. They include:

  • He has a developmental lag. There are late walkers, late talkers and late dry-nighters. And all eventually catch up.
  • She may sometimes sleep so deeply that she fails to wake up when she needs to use the bathroom.
  • He may have a small bladder that’s easily overfilled.

The good news is that most children simply outgrow bedwetting, and it’s rarely a medical problem.

“Dealing with it mostly takes a lot of emotional support, reassurance and patience,” said Dr. Randa Razzouk, an OU physician and assistant professor in pediatrics at the OU School of Community Medicine. She specializes in kidney disease in children and is currently the only pediatric nephrologist in Tulsa. Dr. Razzouk says that bedwetting is most typically a developmental issue, but it can sometimes be a symptom of a medical problem.

Discussing Bedwetting with a Pediatrician

“If there is something medically wrong with the child, they will present with other symptoms along with the bedwetting,” Dr. Rassouk explained. “If parents are concerned, they should seek out the advice of their pediatrician.”

Dr. Razzouk says there are a few things to take note of that will help your pediatrician with a diagnosis if the child does have a medical problem:

  • How often does the bedwetting occur? Every night or less frequently?
  • Does it also occur during the day?
  • Are there any other urinary symptoms such as pain, frequency or urgency?
  • Has the child been constipated?
  • How much water is the child drinking? Is she always thirsty?
  • Does he snore at night?

Other Advice

As unpleasant as bedwetting is, you have to remember that it’s not the child’s fault. “It’s important not to punish them,” Dr. Razzouk said. “Education is the best treatment. Talk with them about it, provide plenty of positive reinforcement and help them live as normal of a life as possible. It is mostly something they will outgrow.”

Dr. Razzouk says you can also limit caffeine and sugar as a way to help. In addition, make sure that you involve the child in the clean-up process. This teaches responsibility. It can also keep your child from feeling embarrassed if the rest of the family knows. You should also set a no teasing rule for siblings. Let them know that it’s not the child’s fault.

The best advice is to be patient, and buy a plastic mattress cover. You’re going to need it! Best wishes for dry nights!

Categories: Babies & Toddlers, Little Ones