Potty training is one of the most challenging parenting jobs. Once your child is consistently dry during the day, you would assume nighttime dryness is right around the corner. But for many children, nighttime bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis, can continue into adolescence! Infants have no signal from the brain when urination will occur. This signal develops during the daytime around age 2 or 3. By age 5, most children can wake up dry. Dr. Todd Bush, a Kansas City pediatrician with Premier Pediatrics says, “10 to 15 percent of 7-year-olds still wet the bed. Of those who are still wetting nightly, about 15 percent will become dry on their own. By age 15, about 99 percent are dry.” Causes:
- Genetics: Most bedwetting children have family who struggled with bedwetting.
- Delayed bladder maturation: The bladder and brain don’t communicate well when some children are sleeping. With these kids, it takes longer to develop this communication.
- Deep Sleepers: They don’t wake up when the body signals a full bladder.
Ask your provider if you’re worried. Doctors assume parents will address concerns during routine visits, so if you don’t mention it, bedwetting might be ignored. Kristi Mahanke, a Stillwell mother, says, “My pediatrician said my 6-year-old would grow out of it, and when it becomes an issue for the child, intervention should occur. We were worried about it when it became a social issue, like with sleepovers.” Bed Alarms
“Alarm therapy has published success rates, but is the most difficult method to get implemented,” Bush says. “The child awakens to wetness and becomes conditioned over time to hold the urine all night.” This system has no side effects and little recurrence after the child is dry for one month. The process can take several months. Medication–a Last Resort:
“Medications are thought of as a quick fix by parents but have a variable success rate,” Bush says. “They work by decreasing urine production overnight but don’t actually ‘cure’ bed wetting.” Family Plan:
- Tell children about other family members who experienced bedwetting. This eases the child’s guilt.
- Enforce a “no teasing” rule in the household.
- Enforce no punishment for wetting the bed. Children aren’t lazy or doing it spitefully. It’s a developmental problem, not behavioral.
- Protect bed with plastic mattress pads and purchase several as backups.
- Nighttime sleep pants are beneficial, especially with sleepovers and vacations.
Remember to submit bedwetting supplies to your insurance company. Many will approve the alarms and a few will reimburse for nighttime diapers. And keep in mind, when you’re up in the middle of the night changing sheets, your child isn’t to blame. After all, no one can handpick their own gene pool!