How to handle your child’s bedwetting
“Bedwetting is very common and a developmental norm until 5 years old,” says Dr. Andrea Kane, pediatrician with Advocate Medical Group at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, in Normal, Ill. “Still at age 5, approximately 15 percent of kids will regularly wet the bed, and some will wet until teenage years.”
While bedwetting is rarely caused by a serious medical disorder, it’s still important that families be aware of the causes and ways to manage the issue to help provide emotional support for their child.
Dr. Kane reminds parents to remain positive at all times as this can be a normal part of a child’s development.
“It is not due to laziness for most kids – sometimes the child’s bladder isn’t big enough to make it through the night, or their brain isn’t quite developed enough to wake to the signal of a full bladder,” says Dr. Kane.
Although not all of the causes of bedwetting are fully understood, the American Academy of Pediatrics says some possible causes include:
- Your child’s body makes too much urine at night.
- Your child is constipated. Full bowels can put pressure on the bladder and lead to problems with holding and emptying urine.
- Your child has a minor illness, is overly tired, or is responding to changes or stresses going on at home.
- There is a family history of bedwetting.
- Your child’s bladder is small or not developed enough to hold urine for a full night.
Even though most children grow out of bedwetting with age, Dr. Kane recommends the following tips to help manage bedwetting:
- Limit the amount of liquids your child consumes in the evening and avoid caffeine entirely
- Create a schedule; instill a strict bedtime
- Remind your child to use the bathroom prior to bed
- Allow your child to help with clean up when needed
- Be positive and reassure your child they should not be ashamed
If, after using these steps for one to three months, your child still has trouble staying dry, a bedwetting alarm may be recommended. These alarms are available at most drugstores or online and detect the first sign of wetness from a sensor placed in the child’s pajamas or underwear. It then sets off an alarm so the child can wake up to use the toilet. These alarms tend to be most helpful for children who are deep sleepers.
“Talk with a pediatrician when there is still daytime wetting accidents after age 5, if a child who used to be consistently dry is now wet, or if there is blood or pain with urination,” says Dr. Kane.
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