Children's Health
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6 Ways to Stop Bedwetting

These six strategies can help your child get a handle on bedwetting. 

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By Beth Ward
 
Waking up your child and finding wet sheets is a rough way for the whole family to start the day.
 
Nocturnal enuresis, commonly known as bedwetting, is both embarrassing for children and frustrating for parents. But take comfort in knowing that you and your family aren’t alone. It’s estimated that five to seven million kids wet the bed, with up to 15% still doing it by the age of five.
 
For most of these kids, bedwetting will stop between seven and 10 years old, but until then, add these six strategies to your nighttime routine to help you and your little one have a less-stressful -- and dryer -- morning.

 

 
Avoid the Blame Game

2 / 7 Avoid the Blame Game

When a child wakes up and realizes he’s wet the bed, chances are he’s feeling embarrassed and ashamed -- like he’s done something wrong -- and scolding him won’t help.

“Kids who wet the bed don’t realize what they’re doing and cannot control it.  Any scolding or negative discipline will just add to any shame or embarrassment they’re already feeling, and could possibly contribute to psychological issues around toileting,” says Dina Gottesman, MD, a pediatrician with StoneSprings Hospital Center in Dulles, Virginia.

Instead, offer positive reinforcement when they make it through the night without accidents, but skip out on the punishment when they slip up. 

Bypass Beverages Before Bedtime

3 / 7 Bypass Beverages Before Bedtime

A simple way to help combat bedwetting is to reduce the number of things that can cause your child to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, such as letting them have glasses of juice and other drinks before you tuck them in.
 
Bedwetting is actually caused by a failure to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, not necessarily a full bladder. But limiting the amount of fluid they drink towards the end of the day, especially after dinner, can help reduce the need to go while they’re sleeping.
 
Aim to slow down on the water or milk within 2 hours of going to bed, and try to limit caffeine intake.
Make Potty Breaks Regular

4 / 7 Make Potty Breaks Regular

“A regular toilet training schedule helps maintain overall good bladder and bowel health,” says Dr. Gottesman. Encourage them to go at consistent times throughout the day -- especially right before bedtime to help avoid accidents.

It’s also important to wake your little one up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom -- even in the beginning stages of using a bedwetting alarm.

Check for Constipation

5 / 7 Check for Constipation

Constipation is a frequent problem for kids with bladder issues, and one of the most common causes of bedwetting. It’s also something that parents sometimes overlook, especially if their child doesn’t seem to have issues going to the bathroom.
 
A constipated child’s rectum pushes up against his bladder causing him, in many cases, to have accidents during the day and to wet the bed at night, regardless of how many times he’s gone to the restroom, or how much fluid he’s had throughout the day.
 
If you’re concerned about your child’s bedwetting and accidents during the day, constipation might be something worth discussing with your pediatrician. 
Consider Behavioral Strategies

6 / 7 Consider Behavioral Strategies

No medical problems causing the bedwetting? Good news. But if it continues, consider one of these options.
 
Reward systems: You know you should never punish your kids for bedwetting, but offering a reward for dry nights can be helpful. Create a sticker chart to keep track of how many nights your child avoids wetting the bed. Focus on positive reinforcement and offer fun incentives.
 
Bedwetting alarm: These sensors placed on the bed or your child’s clothes go off when they detect moisture, alerting your child to wake up and go to the bathroom. One study found that of 505 participants, 79% achieved dryness by 10 weeks and 73% of those stayed dry after a six-month follow-up using these alarms.
Work with the Pediatrician

7 / 7 Work with the Pediatrician

Wetting the bed can be both a physiological issue and a psychological one. That’s why it’s important to work with your pediatrician to help get to the bottom of your child’s bedwetting. They can check for medical causes, such as a bladder infection or constipation, and offer you helpful strategies to combat the issue.
 
Ultimately, most kids do grow out of wetting the bed, so one of the best things a parent can do is practice patience.