I see a lot of families who are concerned about their son or daughter wetting the bed. Although it is an inconvenience to have to do extra laundry and change sheets in the middle of the night, it’s actually pretty common.
While most kids are potty trained between the ages of 2 and 4 years old, some kids are unable to stay dry at night until they are older. Approximately 20 percent of children wet the bed at age 5 and boys are twice as likely as girls to wet the bed. We also see that kids with developmental delays and emotional and behavioral difficulties can struggle with bedwetting.
Don’t worry, there are things you can do to help curb bedwetting. But first, let’s look at the common causes of bedwetting.
Time: Often, it’s just a matter of the body maturing. It can take some kids extra time to develop control of their bladder. This can be a frustrating answer, but up to 5 percent of 10-year-olds still wet the bed.
Sleep: Many times kids are deep sleepers and will sleep through a full bladder. Also, kids whose sleep is disturbed by snoring or restless sleep can be bedwetters. If your child has snoring or restless sleep you should contact their doctor. Other distractions such as watching television or using devices (think iPads, Kindles, phones) in bed can cause kids to miss cues that they need to go to the bathroom.
Genetics: Children who wet the bed often have a family member who did, too.
Stress: Did you just move? Did you welcome a new sibling? Is there something causing anxiety at school or among friends? Life changes such as those, even happy events, can create stress in a child and cause bedwetting.
Medical: Various medical conditions, such as urinary tract infections and constipation, can causing bedwetting. Additionally, a small bladder or the child’s body making too much urine can cause accidents. Rarely, bedwetting is the first sign of type 1 diabetes due to increased thirst and urination.
There are some medicines available to help kids who are 6 and older. While these medicines rarely cure bedwetting, they can be helpful for events such as sleepovers or overnight camp. Your pediatrician can talk you through the benefits and identify any possible side effects these medicines may have on your child.
If you feel like you’ve tried everything, you can look into bedwetting alarms. They work by sensing urine and waking your child up to use the bathroom. These tend to be most helpful for older children who can understand the concept of waking up with the alarm and stopping the process of bedwetting.
If you have any concerns about your child’s bedwetting, it’s always best to discuss them with your pediatrician. We can work with you to help resolve this issue — and don’t worry, it will be resolved!
For more information, I recently spoke about bedwetting on TMJ4's Live at Noon.