Toilet training can be a stressful process. This is particularly the case for children who achieve daytime dryness but continue to wet themselves — and the bed — overnight. It may leave you wondering what’s normal and what you can do to help your child.
Nighttime wetting is one of the most common urologic conditions in childhood. The vast majority of cases are not related to a physical cause. Most commonly, nighttime wetting happens in children who are very deep sleepers; their brains and bladders aren’t communicating as they should while they sleep. It is not your child’s fault.
One of the most valuable things you can do is provide your child reassurance. It is important that your child knows that he or she is not alone. Nighttime wetting is very common, and likely occurring in at least one or two other kids in his or her class. Your child may feel alone, embarrassed or ashamed about wetting at night, so providing reassurance is key. The majority of children with nighttime wetting will outgrow this on their own.
It is important to keep your child’s bladder happy. A happy bladder during the day will lead to a happy bladder at night, which increases the likelihood of nighttime wetting resolving on its own.
Our bladders are designed to fill and empty regularly throughout the day. Children often are restricted access to the bathroom at school, and therefore, drink much less and urinate infrequently during the day. These behaviors can make bladders irritable, and may contribute to nighttime accidents. Try these tips:
- Have your child carry a water bottle to school. This allows him or her to slowly hydrate throughout the day. This avoids dehydration during the day, and the need to drink large volumes of fluid closer to bedtime to make up for what was missed earlier in the day.
- Encourage your child to use the bathroom every two to three hours throughout the day. This will help avoid holding for too long and subsequent mad dashes to the bathroom.
- Monitor bowel movements. Constipation can contribute to wetting, as the hard stool puts a lot of pressure on the bladder. Increasing water intake and dietary fiber are both essential in maintaining good bowel health.
There is not a set age at which your child should achieve nighttime dryness. It is very important to let your child guide this process. Successful treatment will largely be associated with your child’s readiness and motivation in the process.
Here are a couple of tips for knowing when to seek help:
- Your child should see a urologist if he or she also is experiencing other urinary symptoms, including daytime wetting, urinary tract infections or urinary urgency and frequency.
- Seek additional treatments for nighttime wetting if the condition is becoming bothersome to your child, and affecting social development and self-esteem.
Get more facts and tips to help your child with enuresis.