Does your child wet the bed? Does it occur frequently? If so, your child may suffer from a medical condition known as enuresis, or what is most commonly referred to as bedwetting.
In the U.S., more than five million children wet the bed. While bedwetting is typically seen in children under the age of 6, it can last into the teen years.
Why do kids wet the bed? According to Melissa King, DO, pediatrician and member of the Dr. Mom Squad at Dayton Children’s, “Bedwetting often runs in families. If both parents wet the bed when they were young, it’s very likely that their child will too.”
However, there are several other reasons as to why a child may wet the bed other than genetics. Some of the more common causes of bedwetting include the following:
Small bladder. Not all bladder sizes are the same. Some kids wet the bed more frequently than others because their bladder can’t hold large amounts of liquids.
Anxiety or stress. Sometimes kids who never wet the bed, or who haven’t wet the bed for a long time, start because they are worried, upset or nervous about something.
Heavy sleeping. Many kids who wet the bed are very deep sleepers. It may be difficult for them to get out of bed and empty their bladder if they are in a state of deep sleep.
Poor daytime toilet habits. Many kids ignore the urge to urinate and put off urinating as long as they possibly can. Parents are familiar with the “potty dance” characterized by leg crossing, face straining, squirming, squatting and groin holding that children use to fight the urge to use the bathroom.
While bedwetting usually goes away on its own, there are some ways that you can help your child cope with this often embarrassing and uncomfortable issue.
1. Limit liquids before bedtime. Don’t allow your child to drink excessive amounts of fluids before going to bed. Limit their fluid intake and set a time as to when fluid consumption will cease for the night.
2. Encourage your child to go to the bathroom before bedtime. Making sure your child goes to the bathroom before bed will result in less accidents and reinforce the importance of not wetting the bed. Also, ensuring that their bladder is empty before bedtime will encourage the child to make it a habit.
3. Praise your child on dry mornings. If you use positive reinforcement when your child wakes up without wetting the bed, they will be more likely to control their bedwetting by getting up to go to the bathroom when necessary.
4. Avoid punishments. Create a reward system instead. Punishing your child for wetting the bed will only make them feel more guilty and ashamed for doing something they often times can’t control.
5. Wake your child during the night to empty their bladder. This will prevent accidents and get the child into a habit of waking up if they feel the urge to urinate.
If you think your child suffers from bedwetting, then contact your pediatrician. Children who have complicated bedwetting may be referred to an urologist for further evaluation.
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