Bedwetting: Causes and Solutions

If your child is struggling with bedwetting, then you may be struggling as well. Wakening in the middle of the night because your child has wet sheets can deprive you of sleep.

If he or she wets the bed almost every night, then the entire family may suffer. You and your spouse may feel a lot of stress and impatience each time the bed is wet.

Bedwetting can be just as stressful for your child, especially if he or she is five years of age or older. When he or she starts attending school, his or her friends may find out about his or her lack of bladder control. For example, if he or she is invited to a slumber party and chooses to attend, wetting the bed in his or her friend’s home may cause embarrassment. Alternatively, he or she may be too embarrassed to go to slumber parties, causing feelings of isolation. Rashes may occur due to bedwetting. These rashes can cause him or her physical discomfort. Below are some common causes of bedwetting and solutions to try.

Primary Causes of Bedwetting

There are many potential causes of bedwetting but, contrary to popular belief, laziness is not usually one of them. Nor is it likely your child wets the bed due to anger or annoyance because of something you have done. The most common causes of bedwetting are linked to genetics and development. For example, if your child is a bedwetter, then it is likely you or your spouse wet the bed as a child.

If not, then his or her bedwetting may be caused by delayed bladder development. His or her bladder may still be too small or the signals between his or her brain and bladder may not be transmitting properly yet. Such problems often correct themselves over time.

Related Article: Advocating for Your Child at School

Bedwetting may also occur if your child is a deep sleeper. If this is the case, then his or her bladder and brain may not communicate as efficiently. Also, the feeling of sleeping in wet underwear or on wet sheets may not be enough to wake him or her up. Therefore, you may not discover he or she has wet the bed until morning.

Constipation can also cause bedwetting. When your child is constipated, his or her bowels are full. They may press on his or her bladder, triggering it to contract and release urine. If your child is older and potty trained already, then constipation can be difficult to identify. He or she is unlikely to tell you how often bowel movements are occurring.

Other Risk Factors for Bedwetting

If bedwetting starts suddenly, then it may be a sign of stress. Sometimes worries over going to camp or a new school can trigger bedwetting. Similarly, changes in family situations, such as a new baby or a death in the family, can cause him or her to suddenly start wetting the bed. If your child has been the victim of some type of bullying, trauma or has a stress-related disorder, then it may also be the source of the bedwetting. Counseling may help alleviate the symptoms in such an instance.

Although less common, your child may exhibit bed wetting as a symptom of a physical ailment. A lack of bladder control during sleep can be caused by several medical conditions. When you have exhausted standard possible causes of bedwetting, you can have your child’s pediatrician test for them. Examples of such conditions include:

  • Diabetes.
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Urinary tract infections.

 You can also ask your doctor to test your child for a common hormone imbalance responsible for triggering bedwetting. During sleep, his or her body is supposed to produce an anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). The purpose of ADH is to cause urine production to stop. If enough ADH is present, then there is often not enough urine in the bladder to cause bedwetting.

Tools to Use During Bedwetting

There are several tools you can use to make the bedwetting process easier for you and your child. One option is to make the bed in layers. By using plastic sheets under regular sheets, you can protect the bed mattress from saturation.

By putting two sets of plastic and regular sheets on the bed each night, you can empower your child. He or she can strip away the top regular sheet and blanket, as well as the top plastic sheet. A full new set of clean sheets below can allow him or her to go back to sleep quickly. Since he or she does not have to wake you to fix the bed, your sleep schedule can remain intact.

You can also use a urinary bed alarm, also called a moisture alarm, to help your child stop wetting the bed. To use the alarm, place the sensor on your child’s mattress where it is likely to become wet when he or she urinates. As soon as moisture is detected, your child is woken by the alarm. The goal of the tool is to train your child’s brain to signal him or her to wake up and go to the bathroom. Several studies have found a urinary bed alarm to be effective in reducing bedwetting when used for several weeks.

Changing Habits to Reduce Bedwetting

As part of preventative care for your child, change your child’s daily habits to limit bedwetting risks. For example, if he or she is currently allowed access to unlimited beverages until bedtime, then restrict the amount he or she can drink close to bedtime. Encourage him or her to drink more fluids earlier in the day. This way his or her bladder is less likely to fill in the middle of the night.

Some foods can also cause bladder irritation or frequent urination. For example, any foods containing sweeteners or caffeine consumed in the evening may make your child have to urinate. Food dyes and artificial flavorings are also common triggers of bladder irritation. Prevent your child from eating such foods within a few hours of his or her bedtime.

You can also help your child control his or her bedwetting by establishing bathroom break routines throughout the day. If he or she urinates approximately every two hours throughout the day, then accidents at night may be reduced. Encourage him or her to go to the bathroom just before bed. Also, make it clear he or she can get up to go to the bathroom during the night if the urge is felt.

Related Article: Mental Health Advice for Parents

It might also interest you: