This is the final post in a series of six that I worked on with GoodNites to help better educate parents about enuresis. You can see the other posts here:
- Potty Training is Not For Sissies
- GoodNites and Enuresis
- Dealing with Difficult Issues Involving Kids
- Becoming a Big Kid
I was given the opportunity to ask one of the GoodNites NiteLite® panel some questions about bedwetting – here are the responses. I hope that you’ll find them helpful – if you have additional questions, you can ask the panel directly here.
At what age do parents need to be concerned about their child still wetting the bed, and considering seeing a physician? How do you know to differentiate between the natural progression of potty training and enuresis?
Most children develop bladder control by the age of six, but as with every milestone, every child is different and will reach this milestone in their own time. Bedwetting before the age of six is not unusual even though it may be frustrating for both parents and child. However, if a child has been dry at night for six months or more and suddenly starts wetting, you may want to make an appointment with your child’s physician just to rule out the possibility of a physical problem, although the sudden onset of enuresis is usually associated with a disruption in your child’s routine.
Of course, children are going to wet at night as they’re being potty trained. Children who are completely trained and able to stay dry during the day, but continue to wet occasionally or frequently at night are considered to have enuresis.
What advice would you give parents on how to talk to their kids about bedwetting/enuresis?
Parents need to be honest and talk openly about bedwetting with their child. By being open with their kids, parents help their child to understand that bedwetting is nothing to be ashamed of. Enuresis is highly hereditary so if you or your partner wet the bed, chances are, your child will as well. Tell your child if you were a bedwetter to help them understand that they’re not alone. Share the fact that 5-7 million kids in the United States wet the bed. Most importantly, parents need to understand that bedwetting is not a mental or behavioral problem. Children do not wet the bed because they are lazy or because they’re acting out. Parental understanding and support is critical in ensuring your child’s self esteem doesn’t suffer through this stage in their lives.
What is the best bedtime routine that is supportive of a “dry night” for kids?
It’s best to create a calming bedtime routine. Take an hour before bed to do things like baths, snacks, teeth brushing, reading, prayers, etc. Use this time to talk to your kids about their day. It’s a great way to learn what’s going on in their lives and to talk about any concerns they have. I recommend the use of absorbent, disposable underwear like GoodNites Underwear to keep your child dry and comfortable. This will not only ensure they can get a good night’s sleep, but will avoid the bad feelings and embarrassment your child may experience upon waking up in a cold, wet bed. Not to mention, saving you from doing laundry every day before work and school.
What are some of the physical/psychological reasons that bedwetting/enuresis occurs?
It isn’t fully understood why some kids wet the bed and others don’t. Three out of four children who wet the bed have a parent who wet the bed. Enuresis also occurs more often in boys than girls. Generally, enuresis is the result of an immature bladder, deep sleeping, insufficient amounts of the hormone that tells the kidneys to make less urine during sleep, a bladder that signals it’s full before it actually is, or even constipation. Less than 3% of cases are caused by more serious medical conditions such as urinary tract infections, sleep apnea, or diabetes. Secondary enuresis (this occurs when a child who has been dry for several months, begins wetting again) is oftentimes caused by a change in your child’s routine (a divorce or birth of a new sibling, for example).
What do you think of products that are available that are supposed to “train” kids to stay dry? Do they work?
I don’t think there’s any reason to use such products on a child under the age of six. It’s more important to help your young child understand that bedwetting isn’t their fault, it’s common, and it’s no big deal. Limiting fluids in the evening and encouraging your child to use the bathroom before bed are acceptable measures to take. I also don’t think products designed to train kids to stay dry are necessary for older kids who aren’t bothered by enuresis. For older kids who are really bothered by their bedwetting, however, it might be worth giving them a try. You can discuss with your child’s physician any benefits and side effects to using medication, but keep in mind that medicine will not “cure” bedwetting. A potty alarm that alerts your child and awakens them when it senses moisture on your child’s bedclothes is another tool you may want to discuss with your child’s doctor. These things are effective for some children. But before you put too much time, effort, or money in things that promise to train your children to stay dry, remember that most children outgrow bedwetting on their own without any intervention.