Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, March 4, 2011

How To Prevent Bed Wetting


A couple weeks ago, I attended a two hour seminar at a urology clinic.  It was required before I would be able to schedule an appointment for my son to discuss his problem staying dry at night.  I was skeptical that I would learn anything new, but actually left with some useful information...

1.  As I suspected, it is rarely a behavior problem when a child wets the bed.  They're not doing it on purpose and shouldn't be punished for it.

2.  It is usually multiple factors causing it rather than one problem - a combination of the child's bladder being smaller, sleeping too deeply at night, drinking too close to bed time, and being constipated.

3.  This was the most surprising thing to me.  The majority of children who wet the bed are constipated.  That isn't the sole reason, but as the specialist said, the "poo" can press on the bladder, reducing its capacity and even preventing the child from emptying it completely.  Adding more fiber and water to the child's diet is a must.  She also said that most parents think their children aren't constipated when they really are.  An x-ray can be ordered to rule out constipation.

4.  In order to stop drinking 4 hours before bed, the child needs to drink more during the day.  I asked my son how many times he uses the bathroom at school during his 6 1/2 hours there.  Only once.  Clearly he isn't drinking enough because he is too busy.  We were given a note asking the school to allow our children to have a water bottle at their desk and encourage them to drink more and use the bathroom every two hours.  Otherwise, the child will come home and glug water the rest of the evening, sabotaging their efforts to stay dry at night.

5.  It was suggested that we set an alarm to go off four hours after the child goes to sleep.  If it wakes them up, they are to use the bathroom whether they feel like it or not.  If they don't wake up, they're not ready yet.

On a more personal note, it has been a frustrating experience for us and I can't say I have successfully hidden my annoyance every time it happens, but I wanted my son to look back at this and remember that at least his parents were nice about it.  Initially, my husband's theory was that if we let him wet the bed enough times without allowing him to use Pull-Ups or similar products, he would eventually get sick of it and stop doing it.  I suggested he speak to the pediatrician so he could hear it from her that this was not a behavioral problem at all.  It has been embarrassing for him being the oldest child with siblings who stopped wetting the bed years ago.  I have expected our son to be responsible for putting his bedding in the wash in hopes that it would get him more on board to follow everything that was suggested.  We have noticed improvement so far.

If your child just isn't ready, I would suggest getting a very durable mattress protector to make life easier and a blanket that can tolerate many washes.  We gave up on large comforters and regretted the cheap protectors that tore, eventually allowing the mattress to be exposed.  You can at least make some of the suggestions a habit for when your child is physically ready to stay dry at night.  It's always a good idea to make sure they are getting enough fiber and water.

I hope this information will help other struggling families out there.  It is more common than you realize and this can continue even until their teenage years, especially if they are boys.  Good luck!

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