How to Stop Bedwetting and Make Dry Nights the New Normal

Why is your child struggling to stay dry at night? Solutions for how to stop bedwetting might be closer than you think.
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May 5, 2017
Child bedwetting
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Bedwetting, also known by its medical term nocturnal enuresis, affects up to one in five 5-year old children in the United States, according to the National Kidney Foundation. So know that if you are searching for both solutions on how to stop bedwetting and an understanding of why your child is wetting the bed in the first place, you’re not alone.

Causes of Bedwetting

If you have a bedwetting child, chances are you’re pretty keen to find out why it’s happening. So what are the most common causes of bedwetting?

  • Age. Possibly the most likely reason a child wakes up wet, children under the age of 5 still have an immature bladder and nervous system. Until they get to grips with their nocturnal bodily functions, bedwetting is frequently just another building block in a child’s overall physical development.

  • Sleeping deeply. A child in the midst of a very deep sleep will sometimes struggle to wake up and use the bathroom.

  • Life changes and stress. Emotional upheaval in a child’s life can trigger nighttime bedwetting, and being overtired or ill can have the same effect. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why this is the case, but some experts believe that these factors can lead to a child sleeping more deeply as a result of emotional or psychological exhaustion and they simply fail to respond when the vital message from their bladder to their brain is sent.

  • Hereditary factors. Occasionally overlooked, if you wet the bed as a child, it is much more likely that your son or daughter will do the same. According to Howard Bennett, MD, around three out of four children with a sibling, parent or other close relative who wet the bed as a child will go on to do the same.

  • Chiropractic nerve interference. Not usually an immediate suspect when it comes to identifying bedwetting causes, subtle vertebral misalignments can interfere with nerve communication between the bladder and the brain. Chiropractic management can lead to a reduction in nerve interference and bedwetting ceasing altogether.

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When is Bedwetting a Concern?

Nighttime bedwetting can sometimes be due to an undiagnosed medical condition. If your child is usually dry at night, but suddenly starts to wet the bed, seek advice from your pediatrician. If there’s a medical reason for bedwetting, then it’s likely that other symptoms will be present as well.

  • Constipation. A blocked bowel pressing on the bladder makes it hard to keep urine in, particularly while sleeping. If your child is experiencing difficulty in passing hard stools or is perhaps only having two or three bowel movements per week, then investigate further.
  • Urinary tract infections. UTIs are sometimes, although not always, caused by constipation and are frequently accompanied by other symptoms, including fever and discomfort while trying to pass urine.
  • Type 1 diabetes. Affecting 13,000 children every year in the United States, type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed as a result of bedwetting, frequently with accompanying symptoms such as weight loss and constant thirst.

If your child is displaying any additional symptoms that are causing you concern, speak with your doctor or pediatrician and tell them exactly what’s bothering you.

How to Stop Bedwetting

Feel as though you’ve tried every suggestion on how to stop bedwetting? Hang in there. Most parents eventually find the right solution or discover that bedwetting stops spontaneously. In the meantime, you may wonder at what age does bedwetting stop. Many children begin to stay dry around the age of 5, with 90 percent outgrowing the habit by the age of 7, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your doctor or pediatrician is reluctant to treat your child’s symptoms of bedwetting, it could be because your child will simply grow out of it.

Anyone who has experienced a recently potty trained toddler needing to “take a pee right now!” will understand that very young children take some time to learn the early warning signs shooting between their bladder and their brain. It’s much easier to coordinate those alerts, along with the muscle control needed to keep the urine in until the bathroom is safely reached during the day, than it is at night. For older children who have been screened for any underlying medical factors, a common cause is frequently the same as with younger children—a neurological one. If the signal from the brain to the bladder isn’t being recognized, a sleeping child will be unable to “hold on” to the urine in their bladder.

No matter how frustrating it might sometimes feel, a calm approach is important. No child wets the bed deliberately and many children find it distressing.

Ways to Prevent Bedwetting

There are a few things you can try at home to help find the best solution for your child on how to stop bedwetting.

  • Encourage frequent daytime bladder relief. Encourage your child to use the bathroom every two to three hours during the day, so that the bladder is emptied frequently and not “storing up” any urine that might leak out at night.

  • Make sure your child’s diet is fiber-rich. Head off any concerns about constipation by ensuring that your child’s diet is fiber-rich and that they are drinking plenty of water. Don’t be tempted to restrict fluids during the day in the hope that it will mean drier nights.

  • Ensure the bathroom is easily accessible. Talk with your child to rule out any fears that s/he might have about going to the bathroom alone at night.

  • Give “Dream Peeing” a try. Try gently waking your child before you go to bed yourself to visit the bathroom. Wait while they use the toilet and then settle them back into bed.

  • Avoid the temptation to “reward” dry nights. Bedwetting is something children have no control over. Focus instead on rewarding good daytime behavior such as drinking enough water and using the bathroom just before bedtime.

Bedwetting Solutions

If you’ve exhausted a gentle and encouraging approach and still haven’t cracked how to stop bedwetting, then there are other possible bedwetting solutions you can try.

  • Bedwetting alarms. Many of us need an alarm to get up in the morning, and some kids benefit from a similar prompt to wake up and take a pee. Bedwetting alarms attach to your child’s underwear or pajamas and work by sounding a warning when the sensor detects initial drops of moisture. The idea is that your child can wake up and get to the bathroom before any more urine escapes.

    So when it comes to figuring out how to stop bedwetting, do alarms really work? Encouragingly, a recent study by Darcie Kiddoo, MD, reports that over an observation period of 10 to 20 weeks, 66 percent of the children using bedwetting alarms were able to stay dry for 14 consecutive nights compared this with just 4 percent of children who managed the same period of dry nights without any treatment. Kiddoo concluded that alarms can work well, but success is far more likely if parents engage actively with the process, meaning that parents should check that their child has woken with the alarm and rouse them if necessary.

  • Bedwetting medication. Often a last resort for doctors and parents alike, bedwetting medication gets mixed feedback. Many parents report good results for as long as the bedwetting medication is taken, but symptoms can return once the dose ceases. For older children in particular, taking an occasional dose of bedwetting medication to enable them to take part in a sleepover or school trip without fear of wetting the bed can be a revelation.
    The type of medicine that is likely to work best for your child depends on the reason for the bedwetting in the first place. The obvious downside is that each type of bedwetting medication comes with side effects and those implications should be discussed with your doctor.

Home Remedies for Bedwetting

How about some alternative, natural inspiration on how to stop bedwetting? Many parents swear by home remedies that target how to stop bedwetting and a few of them are worth a try.

  • Cinnamon. Used for generations as a treatment to stop bedwetting, cinnamon supports a healthy kidney, liver and digestive tract. Although not all children will be happy to chew on a piece of cinnamon bark as often suggested, you could try sprinkling the powdered version on yogurt or in a smoothie.
  • Cranberry juice. Easy to encourage your child to drink, cranberry juice is packed with antioxidants that actively help to treat mild cases of urinary tract infection.
  • Massage. Gentle, circular and sweeping motions over your child’s lower abdomen using olive oil can be a calming and bonding exercise before bed. Regular massage reportedly helps to stimulate the muscular structure of the bladder, reducing bedwetting occurrences.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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