Nocturnal enuresis, the medical term for night time bed-wetting, is actually more common among school-age kids than you might think. While many children are able to hold their urine all night by age 5, up to one in eight second-graders are still dealing with this embarrassing condition. The percentage drops steadily as children get older (thank goodness), but 1 in 20 10-year-olds still wets at night and an unfortunate 1 to 2 percent struggle with the problem until age 15.
For most kids, the problem is neurological. The child’s brain isn’t sending signals to his bladder to hold his urine while he’s sleeping. Genetics plays a role, too. About three out of four children who suffer have a sibling, parent, aunt, uncle or cousin who also wet the bed during childhood. Occasionally, sudden-onset wetting can be psychological, triggered by upheaval, like a move, a new baby or a divorce.
Despite how common bed-wetting is, even parents tend to keep the problem under the covers. Once these big kids are past what is normally the diaper stage (by around age 4), bathroom issues are no longer prime-time conversation among mom friends.
Because bed-wetting is primarily neurological, punishing or shaming a child won’t help and can actually make the treatment process take longer. Instead, a good place to start is to simply explain to your child what’s happening to his body.
You can say something like this, “When you sleep, your brain can’t control your bladder. It’s not something you do on purpose or because you’re babyish. Eventually, as you get a little older, you won’t wet the bed.”
It is important to address bedwetting issues because they can affect a child’s self esteem and even yours, making you question your parenting. You become uncomfortable with your child sleeping outside the house with friends or relatives.
Getting Kids Dry
The first step is pretty simple: Doctors have patients follow basic techniques like eliminating caffeine from their diets and limiting fluids at night.
Tips for pee-free nights
Rule out health problems
Have your health care provider screen your child for any medical conditions—though they’re pretty rare—that could cause bed-wetting. Same goes for a child who has been dry at night but suddenly starts wetting; she may have a bladder infection.
Be on daytime potty patrol.
Some kids pee at night because they’re constipated all the time; a full rectum can interfere with bladder function. In this case, offer your child plenty of water and fiber-rich foods, and talk to your doctor about an over-the-counter laxative. Also, encourage your child to try using the bathroom (even if he doesn’t have the urge) every two to three hours during the day. A bladder that is not emptied completely or often enough during the day can respond by completely letting go at night.
Night Time Intervals
Wake your child at different intervals during the night even if he doesn’t feel like it, take him to use the bathroom.
Doing this consistently would make him wake by himself when he needs to go.
Make sure your child is ready.
Your frustration isn’t the key here. Your child has to be motivated to stop wetting the bed. If he’s not bothered, stick with disposable nighttime undergarments for a while longer. He’ll let you know when it’s time.