A young child about to go to sleep. Kids bedwetting happens! When you normalize it and apply simple solutions, it's easier to manage.

Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis, is a common issue affecting many children. As frustrating as it may be, it’s essential to remember that kids bedwetting is normal in most cases and usually resolves with time. In this article, I’ll explore why it’s frustrating for both parents and kids along with steps to normalizing kids bedwetting. We will talk about when you should contact your pediatrician, and wrap up with some simple solutions to help you and your child navigate the situation.

The basics of bedwetting

Bedwetting can occur for multiple reasons, the most common fall under what are considered to be normal developmental causes. These are issues that tend to self-resolve as your child grows.

Normal Developmental Causes:

Small bladder capacity: In young children, the bladder may not have fully developed, leading to limited storage capacity and occasional bed-wetting. As your child grows older, their bladder usually matures, and the issue resolves naturally.

Inability to recognize a full bladder. This can be a tricky one because even when they are awake, some kids have trouble recognizing a full bladder. We see this when they are doing the “potty dance.” If the nerves that control your child’s bladder are slow to mature, a full bladder may not wake them up.

Your child is a deep sleeper: When a child is a deep sleeper, their brain might not respond quickly enough to the signals sent from their bladder when it’s full. Normally, when the bladder reaches its capacity, it triggers nerve impulses that wake a child up, prompting them to use the bathroom. However, in deep sleepers, this process can be delayed or sometimes fail to activate, leading to bed-wetting.

Hormonal imbalances: During childhood, some kids may produce lower levels of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) at night, resulting in increased nighttime urine production. This can be a normal part of their physiological development and should eventually regulate on its own.

Genetic causes

The genetic influence on bed-wetting is complex and may involve multiple genes with varying degrees of impact. Different genetic variations can affect bladder development, nerve signaling, hormone production, and sleep patterns! If there is a family history of bed-wetting, parents should be aware that their child may have a higher likelihood of experiencing the issue.

Pathological Causes

Pathological causes of bed-wetting mean there’s something going on inside your child’s body that’s causing nighttime accidents. Basically, there’s a hiccup in the system that leads to bed-wetting. Some of these causes include:

Urinary tract infection (UTI): Infections in the urinary system can cause bed-wetting, along with other symptoms such as frequent urination, pain during urination, and possibly fever.

Sleep apnea: Bed-wetting can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, which affects breathing during sleep. This condition is often caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids.

Diabetes: For a child who has been consistently dry at night but suddenly starts bed-wetting, it could be an early sign of diabetes. Other symptoms may include excessive thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss.

Chronic constipation: Prolonged constipation can lead to dysfunctional pelvic floor muscles, which may contribute to bed-wetting. Addressing and managing constipation is important to help resolve the bed-wetting issue.

Structural issues: In rare cases, bed-wetting may be related to congenital abnormalities or neurological problems affecting urinary control.

It’s important for you to observe your child’s bed-wetting patterns and consider seeking medical advice if the problem persists or is accompanied by concerning symptoms. A healthcare professional can assess the situation, determine the cause, and provide appropriate guidance and treatment as needed.

A tired mother doing a load of laundry.

Why kids bedwetting is Frustrating for Parents

Sleep Disruptions: It can be tough when you have to wake up in the middle of the night to change wet sheets! Oftentimes, a wet child will be upset and need some extra comfort as well.

Laundry Overload: Constantly washing bed linens and pajamas can feel overwhelming. Let’s face it, as parents we already do more than our fair share of laundry!

Social Stigma: Some parents may worry about their child’s confidence and self-esteem, as bedwetting can lead to embarrassment or social isolation.

Why It’s Frustrating for Kids

Embarrassment and Shame: This is probably the number one reason bed-wetting is hard on our children. Bedwetting can make kids feel embarrassed and ashamed, especially if they compare themselves to their dry-night peers.

Fear of Punishment: Some kids may fear punishment or scolding from their parents, making them reluctant to discuss or seek help for their bedwetting. By changing how we approach bed-wetting with our kids, we can help them conquer this fear.

Social Anxiety: Children may feel left out or anxious about participating in sleepovers or overnight activities with friends due to their bedwetting concerns.

Changing Attitudes about kids bedwetting

Parents’ Attitude: When your child has a bed-wetting issue, it’s crucial for you to adopt a supportive and understanding attitude. Reassure your child that bedwetting is a common phase that many kids experience and that it is not their fault. Do your best to avoid showing frustration or disappointment.

Kids’ Attitude: Encourage your child to communicate openly about their feelings and experiences. Remind your child that bedwetting is a temporary phase and that you can work together with you to find solutions!

Normalizing kids bedwetting

It’s crucial to normalize the conversation surrounding wetting the bed. Bedwetting is more common than you might think, and it’s time we stop treating it like some big secret. Bedwetting happens, and it’s okay!

It can help to recognize that your child isn’t the only one going through this. Studies show that around 15% of kids aged 5, and around 5% of kids aged 10, wet the bed occasionally.

Adjusting our perspectives on bed-wetting

Like learning to walk or talk, children’s bodies take some time to get the hang of nighttime bladder control. Bedwetting is simply part of the journey as they grow and develop. Just as some kids grow taller faster, some kids stay dry all night sooner than others.

Don’t let bedwetting define your child! Wetting the be doesn’t make your child any less funny, smart, or creative. In fact, dealing with it in a positive manner can teach your child resilience and understanding.

When we talk about bedwetting openly, we create a supportive atmosphere where our kids can freely share their feelings. Remember, as parents we are here to help, not judge!

Try and shut down the shame cycle. Keeping bedwetting a secret only makes it more stressful. If your child doesn’t want to discuss it in public, you should respect that, but not make a big deal out of it.

A freshly made bed.

Simple Solutions

Here are a few easy things you can do to help when bedwetting is an issue in your home. By being consistent with these interventions, you will hopefully see an improvement over time.

Limit Fluid Intake in the Evening: This is a big one! Encourage your child to drink more fluids during the day and limit them before bedtime to reduce the chances of bedwetting at night.

Bedtime Routine: Establish a consistent bedtime routine, including a trip to the bathroom before sleeping. This habit can help empty their bladder before night.

Bedwetting Alarms: Consider using bedwetting alarms that trigger when moisture is detected. These systems help by waking your child up to use the bathroom. This reminder helps your child to recognize their body’s signals.

Protective Bedding: Invest in waterproof mattress protectors to save yourself from constant laundry and protect your child’s mattress from stains. Some parents find that doing a double-layered setup can make it super easy to toss the dirty sheets in the laundry without having to remake the entire bed.

A doctor answers the phone.

When to see your pediatrician about your child’s bed-wetting

In most cases, bedwetting is a natural part of development and resolves on its own. However, there are times when you will want to consult with a healthcare professional. Here are some things to look for:

  • Painful urination
  • Frequent urination during the day
  • Unusual thirst
  • Bed-wetting after being dry for a while
  • Daytime accidents
  • Loud snoring or restless sleep
  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
  • Unexplained weight loss

Remember to talk to your pediatrician if you have any concerns or questions about your child’s bedwetting! They can help you get down to the bottom of any underlying causes.

Final thoughts

Bedwetting may be frustrating for both parents and kids, but it’s essential to approach the situation with empathy and patience! By understanding the underlying causes and employing simple solutions, you can make this phase less challenging for your child and yourself. Remember, bedwetting is usually a passing phase and your child should eventually outgrow it. If concerns persist, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a healthcare professional who can offer further support and advice.

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