6 Ways to Help a Child Who Wets the Bed
So, you made it through potty training in one piece and now it’s smooth (dry) sailing ahead, right? Nope, sorry. Controlling your bladder at nighttime is something else entirely, and parents can expect accidents for a few years going forward. (The National Sleep Foundation says that bedwetting is not even considered to be a problem until after age seven.) The good is that most instances of bedwetting resolve themselves on their own, but there are a few different strategies that families can try to improve the situation.
Bedwetting (or nocturnal enuresis in medical terms) is actually pretty common—according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 20 percent of five-year-olds and 10 percent of six-year-olds wet the bed. And the good news is that most kids will grow out of it on their own. Until then, try not to let your kid see you become frustrated by it. The best response, say experts, is not to make a big deal out of it and try to be encouraging of progress.
That means no caffeine (like that mug of hot cocoa) or sugar-laden drinks before bedtime. Pediatricians don’t recommend restricting all fluids before bedtime (dehydration can actually exacerbate the problem), but parents can encourage kids to drink more earlier in the day to see if that helps them to be less thirsty in the evenings.
Encourage bathroom trips
Schedule regular bathroom breaks so that your kid is going every couple of hours. And make sure to do a bathroom stop right before bedtime, too. Leave a night light on so that your child can find her way to the toilet.
Get a waterproof mattress
A mattress overlay or vinyl covering won’t necessarily help your kid stop wetting the bed, but it can certainly make nights easier, as will laying out a fresh set of pajamas by the bed for quick 3 a.m. changes. In the morning, let your child help you change the sheets if they need it—not as a punishment (experts say to never punish a kid for bedwetting) but so that they can feel like they’re helping the situation.
Check if your child is constipated
Constipation is a common cause of bladder issues (affecting about one third of children who wet the bed, according to the Cleveland Clinic). If you suspect that this might be an issue, increase your kid’s fluid and fiber intake or speak to your pediatrician.
Get a bedwetting alarm
A urinary bed alarm is considered to be the most effective method of preventing accidents, although it may take weeks or even months to work. Different kinds of alarms are available (some clip on to a child’s clothing while others attach to the bed), but most operate by making a sound when they detect moisture in the bed. The idea is that the interruption in sleep eventually conditions the brain to control the bladder to help prevent accidents. Parents need to make sure that they can hear the alarm, either by sleeping nearby or using a baby monitor.