When a Child Wets the Bed

Posted by Janet Heinsler on May 01, 2015

Bedwetting is much more common than parents think; 5 to 7 million children in the United States are affected by bedwetting.  Most parents assume once their child is potty trained, they will make it through the night without having an accident. The reality is that many kids don’t make it through the night until they are four or five. Some kids don’t stop wetting the bed until age 8 or 10. Who are these kids?
According to the American Pediatrics Association, 15% of kids are still wetting their bed at age five, and 7 to 10% are still wetting their bed at age of seven.  At age ten, 3% of boys and 2% of girls still wet their bed. Boys outnumber girls 2 to 1 when it comes to wetting the bed. While there is no known cause as to why this happens it is thought to run in families. If you wet the bed when you were a kid there is a 40% chance your child will. If both parents wet the bed when they were kids, the chances of your child wetting the bed increases to 77%. If neither of you wet the bed, the chances of your child wetting the bed is only 15%.  
Other hypotheses as to why your child might wet the bed include a smaller bladder that can’t hold as much urine as other kids and not enough vasopressin which helps regulate urine production at night. Not only is bedwetting very frustrating for you as a parent, but it is embarrassing for your kids. They are ashamed that this happens and it makes it difficult for them to go on overnighters when they can’t count on not wetting the bed.
Your child’s bedwetting is not personal. Do you really think they enjoy waking up in a cold, wet bed having to wake you and then seeing your disappointed face?  Doctors strongly recommend against punishing your child for this because doing so can result in emotional trauma for them. When your child wets the bed, reassure them that this a normal part of growing up and that they will outgrow it.
It's important to let the pediatrician know what is going on and to get their input. Not only will they be able to determine if there is a physical reason, but they can give you some ideas on how to deal with it.
In one study where a physician reviewed cases, he found that in 80% of the cases the child was constipated and that the extra stool was putting excess pressure on the bladder causing the child to wet their bed. In this study kids were treated with Miralax for a couple of weeks and the child had a successful bowel movement bedwetting stopped. If you think it is constipation, increase the child’s intake of fluids and make sure they get such things as apple juice and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Encourage your child to go to the bathroom before bed so that they can start the night with an empty bladder. Also make sure you cut back on their intake of fluids before bedtime so that bladder is not as full.
This is an alarm that wakes your child as soon as they wet the bed. The idea here is that waking the brain up will eventually train the brain to control the bladder better. These are only 75% effective and often don’t work if the child is not ready to use it.
You can set things up so the child can pretty much deal with the situation alone and won’t have to wake you up. You would be surprised how much this can help your child’s self-esteem. To do this you should place a waterproof mattress protector over the mattress (a shower curtain would work soon) and then place a sheet over this.  Next, place another mattress protector and another sheet. When you child wets the bed he can remove the top sheet and protector and have a dry one already. Make sure you leave an extra blanket and set of pajamas. If your child is young enough, you can have them wear pull-ups at night.
If all else fails there are some medicines that your child may take. Check with your pediatrician to see what they think is the best for you to do.