Coping With Your Child’s Bedwetting

There are a number of ways to tackle your child’s bedwetting challenge. Today Mighty Mommy has 7 tips on how you and your child can cope with and ultimately recolve this unpleasant and sometimes humilating problem.

Cheryl Butler,
November 4, 2013
Episode #254

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As parents we often turn to our friends and colleagues for parenting advice when we come up against a childrearing matter that we’ve never encountered before.  Sometimes, however, the situation we need help with can be a bit awkward, leaving us feeling anxious or embarrassed to discuss it with others because we don’t want our family to be judged or scrutinized.  One topic that falls into this socially uncomfortable category is bedwetting. 

An estimated 7 million children in America wet their beds on a regular basis.  Bedwetting is also known as nighttime incontinence or nocturnal enuresis. Generally, bedwetting before age 6 or 7 isn't a cause for concern. At this age, your child may still be developing nighttime bladder control, yet there are still staggering numbers of older kids, some even in their teenage years, who have accidents every night.>

If your child experiences bedwetting, there are things you can do to help them overcome this unpleasant, sometimes humilating problem. Today, Mighty Mommy shares 7 tips gleaned from personal experience:

Tip #1:  Understand the Causes of Bedwetting

According to Dr. Howard Bennett, a clinical professor of pediatrics at George Washington University Medical Center and author of Waking Up Dry: A Guide to Help Children Overcome Bedwetting, the combination of several factors is the usual culprit that leads to bedwetting:

  • Stress.  Children who engage in very active daytime activities, can get overwhelmed or overstimulated and may experience bedwetting. Adults also experience this - in many cases, it's triggered by a dream.

  • Undeveloped bladder.  A young child may not be able to control the activities of his/her bladder. The bladder, being not yet fully developed, does not have enough capacity to hold urine, which results in nighttime wetting. As your child grows, their bladder fully develops and the bedwetting should no longer be a problem. Children also do not normally wake up in the middle of the night when their bladder is already full, which can lead to accidents.

  • Reaction to food. Caffeinated drinks like coffee, soda, and tea pumps up the production of urine in the kidneys. Avoid giving your child these bedwetting inducers.

  • Genetics.  Bedwetting among children may be caused by some genetic factors. Statistics show 1 out of 7 children who has late development in bladder control have siblings or other close relative who also experienced nocturnal enuresis.

  • Boys. Bedwetting is more common in boys than girls.  Prior to age 13, boys wet the bed twice as often as girls. By the time adolescence rolls around, these numbers equal out. Interestingly, girls are more likely than boys to have other bladder symptoms, such as urgency, frequency, or daytime wetting.

Tip #2: Exercise Patience

The first piece of advice and possibly the most important, for bedwetting is to exercise patience. It is no doubt frustrating to wake up in the middle of the night to a soaked bed, but the fact is, it was not your child’s intention to disturb your sleep (or theirs). Exhibiting patience and understanding is the first step in eliminating the bedwetting problem because you’ll be sending a message to your child that you’re not angry with him/her for this situation and that you’re willing to work toward a solution.  

I went through the bedwetting issue with 2 of my 8 kids and I always kept a dry set of sheets, pjs, and a fresh blankets in their bedrooms so we were ready for a change in the middle of the night, if necessary.  I also kept a large trash bag ready where we could place the soiled bedding and easily transport it to the laundry room and deal with it in the morning.

Tip #3: Establish a Solid Bedtime Routine

Guide your child in doing activities that will prevent them from bedwetting. These may include reducing their drinks before bedtime, directing them to the toilet before they sleep, and reminding them that they can always use the toilet if they needed it and that you have already made sure there are no hindrances on their way there. Being consistent in this routine can help train them to get into some good habits while they are working through the bedwetting challenge.

Another nighttime routine I've found to work is bedtime stories.  Start with something ordinary: “Once upon a time, a boy named Jack was walking down the street…” and feel free to ramble wherever your imagination takes you. If you get stuck, say “And can you guess what happened next?” Often, your child will chime in with a suggestion or plot twist of his own – a good way to find out what’s on their mind.


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