While bed-wetting can be frustrating to deal with, it’s a surprisingly common issue. Known officially as enuresis, wetting the bed happens in one in seven children under the age of five, and one in 20 under the age of 10. Normal or not, though, dealing with soggy sheets and endless laundry can be a hassle. Luckily, there are some things you can do to reduce the frequency of your child’s wetting the bed.
Why Does It Happen?
Though it’s easy to think of bed-wetting as a toilet-training issue, the two are actually not that closely connected. Toilet training involves a child learning about the feeling of urgency; on the other hand bed-wetting in a young child is a matter of bladder development.
Bed-wetting in reception aged children is essentially normal: they lack the neurologic maturity to sleep and pay attention to their bladders at the same time. They tend to be very deep sleepers, and their muscles relax during sleep so when the bladder gets full, it overflows.
What Can You Do About It?
Even though bed-wetting is normal at a young age, there are several things parents can do to decrease the frequency of bed-wetting or eliminate it altogether. Make sure the child goes to the toilet before bed and limiting fluid intake a couple of hours prior to bedtime. Particularly, take care that they do not drink fizzy or caffeinated drinks around this time.
When Should You Call Your Paediatrician?
Though some bed-wetting is normal, there are certain circumstances where enuresis could indicate a larger problem. A change in urine habits can be somewhat concerning.
Sometimes children do slip backwards for no specific reason, but in a child who had been dry, if nights are getting wet again it’s reasonable to go in for a medical evaluation. Children who are wetting the bed who have potential signs of neurologic illness, trouble walking or trouble holding stool need to be seen right away. If you’re not sure if you should be worried about bed-wetting, you can also phone your GP and get an opinion before making an appointment.
How Do You Cope?
Though your child’s health and well-being are probably the first things on your mind, bed-wetting can be hard for you, too. The most important thing you can do is realise that this is not your or your child’s fault, and try to stay as calm as possible about the situation, especially around your child.
Young children typically are not anxious or worried about bed-wetting unless their parents are worried. This is a time to lead by example. Like all developmental issues, bed-wetting will resolve itself, even if it takes a while, and the best thing parents can do is be patient — and maybe keep a spare set of sheets (and a waterproof mattress pad) at the ready.
Though wetting the bed is certainly an inconvenience, it isn’t the end of the world. They’ll grow out of it.