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Why Is My Child Still Wetting The Bed?

Your child is past the bedwetting stage but they’re still constantly soaking up the bed. You’ve tried different methods to halt the bedwetting but to no avail. If you’re starting to feel frustrated at this phase, then this article is definitely for you.

Bedwetting is a fairly common issue: statistics show that 15% of children below five years, 10% of children below seven years, and 4-5% of children below 10 years regularly wet the bed. While there are many possible causes for prolonged bedwetting, it is important to note that boys usually take longer to gain bladder control at night as their neurological and physical systems need more time to mature. 

So whether you are worried about your older child who’s still wetting the bed, or if your little one starts after stopping for a consistent amount of time, know that your family isn’t alone in this situation.

Primary and Secondary Enuresis

Nocturnal Enuresis is the involuntary discharge of urine by a child that is old enough to be expected to have full bladder control, during sleep. A child is labelled as enuretic if the wetting is regular (around 3-4 times a week).
Primary Enuresis is when the child has been wetting the bed for at least 6 months on end.
Secondary Enuresis refers to sudden wetting despite at least 6 months of dryness.

Possible Causes of Bed-Wetting

Although it seems logical to stop your kids from drinking water right before bed, doing so has little to no effect in preventing a wet bed as it is not caused by drinking too much before bedtime. Unlike common misconceptions, bed-wetting is also not caused by psychological problems, laziness or attention-seeking behaviour. Instead, your child may be wetting the bed because of other factors such as…

  • Genetics
    Studies show that there is a 66% chance that a child will wet their bed if both parents suffered from nocturnal enuresis too. If only one parent suffered from nocturnal enuresis, the child will have a 44% chance of wetting the bed.

  • Slow development of the central nervous system
    This reduces the ability for the little ones control their bladders, causing them to let go as and when their bladders are full during the night.

  • Lack of the anti-diuretic hormone
    The anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) acts on kidneys to reduce the amount of urine produced during sleep. Most bed-wetters lack this hormone, making it hard for their bladders to hold their urine as they sleep. If this is the case, do not panic! Although it may sound serious, there are medicines available to help boost the level of ADH.

  • Urinary Problems
    If bed-wetting is a long-term problem, seek a medical care for your child as there is a possibility that a urinary tract infection is causing the nocturnal enuresis. Medicine is also available to treat UTIs so you do not have to stress yourself out. 

  • Constipation
    A full bowel takes up more space in the pelvic area, causing the bladder to leak in the constricted space. If this is the case, include more fibre in your child’s diet. While fruits and vegetables are the best way to go, some kids just put up a fuss when confronting broccoli or apples. When faced with this situation, try apples with a peanut butter dip (the peanut butter dip will entice them) or swap their Coco Crunch and Lucky Charms for high fibre cereals. Serving them baked potatoes with the skin left on is also a good way to increase their fibre intake.

How Can I Help My Child?

If you are concerned about your child’s bedwetting tendencies, bring your child to the doctor for a proper assessment. For more serious cases, following doctor’s orders are the best way to go. If that is the case, expect the use of medication such as Desmopressin (a synthetic form of ADH) or physical methods such as the Enuretic Alarm (an alarm that wakes your child whenever he/she starts to wet the bed). Other treatments may be used for different causes such as antibiotics for Urinary Tract Infections and psychological treatment for immense stress.

Regardless of the severity of the issue, empathy and positive reinforcement is the way to go. Understand that your kids feel ashamed, insecure and scared of their ‘accidents’ being found out. A common misconception is that psychological problems and stress cause the little ones to wet the bed. While stress may sometimes cause nocturnal enuresis, that is rarely the case. Instead, it is usually the bedwetting that brings psychological stress to the child. If the problem is prolonged and the child is constantly punished and teased, low self-esteem issues may develop. Here are some steps you can take to help your child and boost his/her confidence.

  1. Banish the Blame
    Reassure your child and educate his/her sibling(s) on the matter so that he/she feels supported instead of teased. Punishing your kids for something they cannot control will only be detrimental to your family relationship.
  2. “You are not alone.”
    Emphasise that a lot of kids their age go through this and it is not their fault. You may even choose to implement a reward system whereby a sticker is awarded to your child’s ‘reward chart’ whenever he/she wakes up with a dry bed.
  3. Pee Before Bed
    Encourage them to go to the bathroom before bed and wake them up just as you are going to sleep to empty their bladders again.
  4. Wait It Out
    Remember that your child will eventually grow out of it so all you can do now is invest in water-resistant bed sheets or add a couple more layers on top of the current sheets and be a patient and supportive parent.

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