Most Bed-wetters Inherited Small Bladders
Bed-wetting, or Enuresis, is the involuntary passage of urine during sleep. “It is considered normal until a child is at least six years of age,” explains Kent Amstutz, D.O., a pediatrician with Boys Town Pediatrics.
An inherited small bladder is the cause of bed-wetting for most children. “Their bladder is so small that it cannot hold the urine their bodies produce throughout the night,” says Dr. Amstutz. “Although their kidneys are normal, they sleep so deeply that the signal of a full bladder does not wake them.”
Enuresis is not caused by emotional problems, says Dr. Amstutz, however they can be created if the situation is mishandled. “Bed-wetting causes guilt and embarrassment in most children. Parents should create a supportive environment, encouraging their child to overcome his or her problem.” suggests Amstutz. “Punishment or pressure to stop having accidents in the night often creates secondary emotional problems and causes the child to take even longer to overcome bed-wetting.”
Even without treatment, most children will overcome bed-wetting. However, Dr. Amstutz suggests trying these simple home care treatments:
- Encourage your child to get up during the night. At bedtime, be sure to gently remind your child to get up when he or she has to urinate.
- Empty the bladder before bedtime. Remind your child to use the restroom before getting into bed at night.
- Limit fluid before bedtime. Discourage your child from drinking excessive amounts during the two hours before bedtime and avoid drinks with caffeine.
- Improve access to the bathroom. Put a nightlight in the hallway and bathroom or place a portable toilet in your child’s bedroom.
- Parent-awakening. Wake your child up at a specific time each night, such as your own bedtime.
Once a child reaches eight years of age, he or she may need additional assistance awakening at night. “A bed-wetting alarm is one technique that teaches a child to awaken when he or she needs to urinate,” explains Dr. Amstutz. “A less expensive option is to teach your child to use an alarm clock to self-awaken three to four hours after going to bed. Medication can also be used to temporarily stop bed-wetting for special occasions such as slumber parties or other overnights.”
Call your child’s physician if urination causes pain or burning, the stream of urine is weak, your child wets during the daytime, bedwetting is a new problem, or your child is over 12 years old.