- By Mary Caldwell For the AJC
Bed-wetting is no fun for your child, who's waking up with soaked sheets, or for you, the parent. This problem is common, with about 5 million children in the U.S. wetting the bed, according to HealthyChildren.org. About 20 percent of five-year-olds, 10 percent of seven-year-olds and 5 percent of 10-year-olds wet the bed.
If your child is wetting the bed, he or she will probably outgrow it, but it can be very stressful in the meantime. The following tips from Sharecare, the Mayo Clinic, WebMD and Parents can help you and your child put bed-wetting to rest more quickly:
Your child can't control bed-wetting and may be embarrassed that it's happening. Make sure that you don't blame or punish but instead remain encouraging. If you or your spouse wet the bed as a child, it can help for your own child to know this and to realize that it's probably a temporary issue. Don't discuss your child's bed-wetting in front of other family members and ensure that if other children in the family know about it, they understand that teasing is not OK.
It's important for your child to stay well hydrated during the day, but it can help to limit liquids in the evening (as long as your child isn't very active with sports or other activities at this time). You should also limit beverages with caffeine at any time of day, but especially in the evening, since they can stimulate the bladder.
Encourage regular toilet use
Try to encourage your child to use the toilet regularly throughout the day - about every two hours if possible. And he or she should develop the habit of using the bathroom just before bed. Encourage your child to get up at night to use the toilet if he or she wakes up and make this easy by providing small nightlights from the bedroom to the bathroom. If necessary, you can also provide a portable toilet.
Focus on the positive
While you should never blame your child for wetting the bed, a reward system can help provide positive reinforcement. Keep a shiny star or happy face sticker chart to keep track of dry nights, and when your child reaches a certain number of days in a row, provide a small treat or toy.
Rule out constipation
Perhaps surprisingly, bed-wetting can be related to constipation. Large or hard poop can fill the rectum and put more pressure on the bladder, which can cause nighttime bed-wetting and even daytime accidents. Take a look at your child's bowel habits to see if he or she is having a daily bowel movement and that the stool doesn't look hard. If it does, increase the amount of fluid and fiber your child gets with beverages and foods like apple juice, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Talk to your child's pediatrician
In most cases, bed-wetting is temporary and your child will outgrow it without any treatment. But it can help to talk to your child's pediatrician about the problem. The doctor can talk to you about your child's fluid intake, bowel and bladder habits and family history. Based on this information, he or she may recommend ruling out problems such as a urinary tract infection. If no specific cause is identified, the doctor can offer helpful tips and advice for dealing with bed-wetting.
Consider a moisture alarm
Your child's doctor may recommend a moisture alarm if other changes haven't been successful. You can buy these battery-operated sensors without a prescription at most pharmacies, and they connect to a pad on your child's pajamas or bedding. When moisture is detected, an alarm will sound, and ideally your child will be able to stop the stream of urine and go to the toilet to finish. These devices can help, but they may need several months to be effective.