Bed Wetting (Enuresis)

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What is bed wetting?

Bed wetting, also known as nocturnal enuresis, is common in children under the age of 5, and most naturally grow out of it; so it is nothing to worry about.

This can continue in older children and it can be classified into two different types:

💧Primary nocturnal enuresis, where the child has wet the bed or nappy regularly since birth.

💧Secondary nocturnal enuresis, where the child begins to wet the bed after a period of at least six months of persistent dryness.

The reasons are not fully understood why some children wet the bed, but it happens when there is no conscious awareness during sleep that they might need the toilet and is often more common in boys than girls.

It can help to talk about it

Most children think they're the only ones that wet the bed, as it's often not talked about. So, start a conversation about bed wetting, snuggle up and watch how our own cuddly Bedtime Buddy, Norman, can help your child overcome bed wetting.

Parents often feel like the child is being lazy and the child often thinks that there is something wrong with them, and for an older child it can often create a social awkwardness, for example when they are invited for a friends sleepover or a school trip.

Bed wetting is often an inevitable part of growing up and it doesn't have to be a traumatic experience.

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Why do children wet the bed?

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.

Although bed wetting isn't fully understood, we know the following reasons could be triggering the situation:

💧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 bed wetting problems

💧A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): This can give a feeling of always needing the toilet and can cause or exacerbate any problem

Norman Says

The good news is that for most children something can be done to help identify, manage and resolve these possible causes of wetting the bed. A visit to your GP or school nurse is always recommended where treatment options can be discussed.

How to stop bed wetting?

The cause isn’t always medical. Bedwetting may result from lifestyle changes that increase anxiety or stress, such as starting a new school, exams, bullying or the birth of a new sibling. So why not ask your child how they are feeling? You can also try the following;


Managing their liquid intake

💧Encourage your child to drink at least 6 glasses of water or water based drinks throughout the day, so that they go to the toilet regularly (ideally between four and seven times a day)

💧The timing is also important, so approximately a fifth should be consumed during the evening

💧Also, try to avoid fizzy and caffeinated drinks, such as cola or hot chocolate, because these increase the need to urinate during the night

It's important to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle – not just for the purpose of treating bedwetting

Creating a good routine to wind down before bedtime

💧A bath or shower, with some relaxed reading before going to sleep, could help

💧The release of the hormone vasopressin is aided by a change in light, so ensure that their bedroom is as dark as possible

Introducing a reward system

💧This must only be used to encourage them to help themself become dry, such as going to the toilet regularly, and not for outcomes, such as not wetting the bed

Ensuring they go to the toilet before bed and have an easy route to the toilet during the night, such as leaving the lights on and doors open

💧Avoid waking your child in the night or carrying them to the toilet, as these measures are unlikely to help them in the long term

💧Use waterproof covers on your child's mattress and duvet, and always have spare bedding and nightclothes available nearby. Older children may want to change their bedding straight away to minimise disruption and embarrassment

Why not keep a nightly diary for a week or two to keep track of any patterns?

Remain calm and keep positive while supporting your child. Although it may be frustrating it's not their fault.

Encourage your child to implement some initial lifestyle changes and be actively engaged in any decisions. If bedwetting persists, your GP can advise you on further treatment options. Medication and alarms are available, so ask for what's best suited to you and your child.

Norman Says
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