Helping your child to have a dry night
The likelihood of bedwetting decreases as children get older. But at the age of 5 as many as 1 in 5 children still experience problems staying dry at night*.
If you’re concerned that your child is still experiencing problems staying dry your GP may be able to help you and them manage the problem.
What causes bedwetting?
Many children who wet the bed feel embarassed and alone. It’s important to know that bedwetting is a common problem and is not the fault of your child.
Why some children take longer than others to become dry at night isn’t fully understood. It’s not linked to poor toilet training or laziness. Girls usually become dry at night earlier than boys.
Bedwetting happens when there is no conscious awareness during sleep that they might need the toilet. It could be down to one of the following reasons:
- Lack of a hormone called vasopressin. This regulates the amount of urine produced by the body during the night. If there is not enough the kidneys continue to produce large amounts of urine which the bladder can’t hold
- An over active bladder. Children may experience the need to go to the toilet urgently and frequently. This happens when the muscles in the bladder contract before it is full and this can happen during the night
- Constipation. If the bowel is full it can press against the bladder causing bedwetting problems
- A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). This can give a feeling of always needing the toilet and can cause or exacerbate any problem
- Anxiety, stress or changes in routine. Events like starting school, the birth of a new sibling, exams and or bullying can delay a child becoming dry at night or can cause bedwetting in a child who had previously been dry
The good news is that for most children something can be done to help identify, manage and resolve these possible causes. A visit to your GP or school nurse is always recommended where treatment options can be discussed.
How else can you help?
In addition to treatments to tackle the problem there are practical things you can do
- Ensure they drink at least 6 water based drinks spread evenly during the day and they go to the toilet regularly
- Encourage your child to be actively engaged in decisions about treatments
- Ensure they go to the toilet before bed and can get to the toilet easily in the night. A night light or leaving a light on in the hall can be help. Keep bedroom and bathroom doors open
- Placing a potty in their bedroom if they’re worried about leaving their room at night
- A good winding down routine each night may help, for example, a bath or shower and then some relaxed quiet time, perhaps reading, before sleeping
- The release of vasopressin is part of the winding down process at night. Change in light helps this process, it is important that the child sleeps in a darkened bedroom and doesn’t fall asleep with the TV on
- Remain calm and positive and supportive of your child