Bedwetting (also known as nocturnal enuresis) is when kids who are old enough to control their bladder pee at night during their sleep. It’s a common problem for kids, especially those under 6 years old but, can last into the teen years. It is often an issue parents can find very isolating and difficult to talk about openly although, its very much a natural part of development, and kids usually do grow out of it. In some case it can affect a kid’s self-esteem and emotional well-being so we have gathered some tips to ensure a dry – and happy night for all.
How to cope with a bed wetting child
- Be Understanding
Up until the age of three, very few children can hold on all night without a visit to the toilet and even up to the age of seven, bedwetting is a common problem. Reassure your child that that the bedwetting is not her fault and that you will both work together to make things better. Emotional distress will only exacerbate the problem so try not to show any frustration or disappointment towards your child.
- Investigate the Cause
Bedwetting can be caused by a number of factors, ranging from simply drinking too much before bed, deep sleeping patterns to urinary tract infections, emotional distress or in rare cases, type 1 diabetes. If your child is over the age of five or displaying any other symptoms then take her to your GP who can investigate the cause and prescribe medication if necessary. Otherwise, there are a number of ways you can try to tackle the problem at home.
- Take Simple Precautions
Drinking too little liquid throughout the day or too much just before bed can increase the likelihood of bedwetting. Always encourage your child to sip water slowly throughout the day, reduce their liquid intake before bedtime and take regular toilet breaks, especially before bed. Make sure that your child has easy access to a toilet at night and, if necessary, that her route to the bathroom is well lit.
- Last Orders
Many parents believe that children shouldn’t be given drinks after 4pm, but, this could in fact make the situation worse as limiting drinks may cause dehydration. It also reduces the amount the bladder can hold before getting the sensation of fullness. Make sure your child has plenty to drink throughout the day and goes to the toilet regularly to develop good bladder habits (see tip above). Limiting drinks an hour or so before bed may help but thirsty children should never be denied a drink.
- Eat for Sleep
Healthy food will helps kids feel satisfied and less hungry, which in turn aids sleep. It’s important to ensure they eat the correct macro-nutrients such as protein rich foods and complex carbs throughout the day – grains like cous cous or quinoa work well. This enhances Tryptophan, an amino acid which helps to induce sleep. Our bodies don’t produce Tryptophan, so it has to come from our diet. In order to ensure it reaches our brains effectively it is key to combine carbs with protein to make it available to our brains. Things like seeds, cheeses, fish and eggs are all rich in Tryoptophan.
- Last Supper
It’s important to ensure the last meal of the day is light and nutritious so as not to cause any digestive problems which could inhibit sleep. Protein and carbohydrates should always be included in children’s last meal of the day. If your child eats a snack at supper before going to bed, things like banana on wholemeal toast with a splash of honey is a light bedtime snack which induces sleep and contains Tryptophan.
- Reward Good Behaviour
Although bedwetting is not something that can be controlled, a reward scheme may encourage your child to commit to a plan of action. Do not wait until she is totally dry through the night to hand out stars, give praise and rewards when she takes her toilet break before bed, or if she helps to change her bed after a night time wetting.
- Establish a Routine
While you are tackling your child’s bedwetting problem, slip-ups are bound to happen so establish an efficient routine to get her dry, clean and back to bed with the minimum of disruption to both of your sleeping patterns. Prevent damage to her mattress by using a waterproof protector and if she is old enough, encourage your child to assist in the clean-up by leaving fresh pyjamas beside the bed. Make sure your child washes thoroughly afterwards and use a gentle moisturising cream to counteract any skin irritation that may occur.