Despite the fact that you might have fully potty-trained your child from a young age, bed wetting can still be a very common occurrence between the ages of 4 and 7. Approximately 15% of children at that age wet the bed at least twice a week. So, if it still happens to your child please remember that it is completely normal and there are a few things you can do in order to try to prevent it in the future.
Here at 5 Fun Facts, we have a list of helpful things to do in this situation to help your child stop wetting the bed.
1. Decrease the number of drinks before bed.
To prevent a child’s bladder from becoming overly full during the evening, it is important to control the amount of fluid they drink late in the afternoon and right before bed. Let them have enough liquids in the morning and during lunch time, then slowly decrease the amount as the day progresses. Also, it is vital for a child to go to the toilet every night right before their bedtime. Make this part of their evening routine.
2. Avoid certain foods that can irritate the bladder.
There are certain types of foods that can irritate the bladder in young children causing them to have accidents when they are sleeping because they do not have enough bladder control. Avoid foods that are too acidic like fruit juices containing lemon, orange, pineapple, apple, or cranberry.
Avoid dairy products like milk or yogurt because dairy can cause your child to feel more sleepy and prevent them from waking up when their bladder is full. Also avoid hot chocolate, tea, coke, or any carbonated drinks that might contain too much sugar or caffeine. See here for the full list of products that can irritate the bladder.
3. Establish a bathroom break in the middle of the night.
Children are naturally heavy sleepers, so sometimes it is hard for them to wake up when their bladder is full. The idea is to wake them up in the middle of the night and interrupt their sleep on purpose for a bathroom break to empty their bladder. This will help them be more alert and wake up in the middle of the night naturally to go to the bathroom on their own.
You can monitor the number of times your child goes to the toilet during the day and how often, and wake them up accordingly. For example, if your child goes to the bathroom 7 times a day, every 3 hours, wake them up every 3 hours. After that, you can gradually change it to every 4 hours and eventually to once a night. When they go a week without wetting their bed, stop. They will be trained to wake up on their own to go to the toilet.
4. Double up on magnesium.
According to research done by the National Clinical Center, children might suffer from nocturnal enuresis (bed wetting) because they lack magnesium in their diet. Lack of magnesium makes the nervous system less responsive, so a child is unaware when they need to use the toilet.
There is no need to give your child supplements, just incorporate magnesium in their diet. Foods that are rich in magnesium are sesame seeds, avocados, bananas, salmon, legumes, and tofu. See here for the full list of foods rich in magnesium.
5. Keep a journal.
Just like any doctor would recommend in any re-occurring situation that might be happening, it is important to keep a journal and keep track of everything that happened during the day. This will help you monitor your child’s habits, activities, food and fluid intake, and emotional and mental health.
This will also help you understand what might be triggering their bed wetting. Maybe certain foods might cause them irritation or different drinks might trigger a nervous system response. It is important to write everything down every day to help you understand the underlying cause of their bed-wetting.
6. Talk to your child.
Have a chat with your child about how they feel emotionally, it does not have to be about their bed-wetting, but their emotional state in general. If they’ve gone through a change in their life, like school or any other emotional situation that might have caused them some stress or anxiety, this might be the cause of their bed-wetting. It will go away when they get used to the situation. In the meantime make them feel supported and not embarrassed. Let them know that you are there for them.
7. Get a bed wetting alarm.
Sometimes a bed wetting alarm could be the solution to this situation. There is a specific kind of alarm that gets clipped to their underwear and once it detects moisture it starts going off. There is a chance that the alarm might not wake your child up, but it will certainly wake you up.
Once you hear the alarm, wake your child up and take them to the bathroom. This will train your child to get up and go to the bathroom on their own.
8. Give them rewards.
It is important to use positive reinforcement and reward your child for activities that they can control. They cannot control bed-wetting. So if you reward them for nights that they stay dry, this could have a negative impact and make them feel like they’ve failed. Give them rewards that are related to things that help them avoid bed-wetting, like, for example:
- Drinking water in the morning but avoiding a lot of fluids in the evening.
- Eating their meals that are rich in magnesium.
- Going to the toilet right before bed.
9. Motivate them by giving them responsibility.
It is important to motivate your child to be responsible and independent to some extent. If they wet the bed one night, instead of letting them sit there and feel guilty and ashamed while you do the clean-up, show them nicely and very calmly how to change their sheets and ask them to help you.
Ask them to take their current clothes that they were wearing to the laundry and ask them to help you do the laundry. This will make them more appreciative of you and it will make them want to be more responsible when it comes to staying dry.
Know when to consult a doctor.
As mentioned at the beginning, bed-wetting is completely normal, but in some cases you need to consult a doctor when things do not seem to be getting better over time.
Consult a doctor if:
- Your child has constant accidents both day and night and they are over the age of 5.
- They are wetting the bed constantly in the evening and they are over the age of 7.
- Your child has gone months without wetting the bed and then suddenly start wetting the bed, and they are over the age of 5.
What is your experience with your child’s bed-wetting? Have you tried any of these methods? Please let us know in the comments below.
Illustration by Daniil Shubin for 5FunFacts.com