By Dr Vikas Satwik
Is bedwetting a common problem in children? About 40 per cent of three-year-olds wet the bed. Experts are puzzled as to why one child chooses to wet the bed and the other does not. It may be a question of growth. The bladder of a child will not be mature enough to store urine for an entire night. A child’s ability to recognise when his or her bladder is full is not always established; they should get up and go to the toilet before bedtime. This is a common occurrence among children having emotional or behavioural difficulties and developmental delays.
What causes children to wet the bed?
There are a variety of reasons why children wet the bed; here are a few of the most common:
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Genetics: Some children take more time to achieve bladder control. Wet-bed children are more likely to have a dad, aunt, uncle, or grandparent who wets the bed until a later age, implying a genetic aspect.
Sleep pattern: Changes in your life or stress. Moving or adding a new sibling, as well as other stressors, may cause children to wet the bed after being dry for a long time.
Health-related: A urinary tract infection (UTI), constipation, or variations in the way the body is formed or works, such as a small bladder or producing too much urine, may all be contributing factors. In addition, bedwetting, elevated appetite, and frequent urination are all symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes.
What can parents do to help their children?
Around 15 percent of children who wet the bed learn to stay dry during the night without any help; but, the longer the bedwetting has gone on, the less likely it is to improve on its own. Here are a few ideas for parents:
Caffeinated beverages should be avoided before bedtime. Caffeine causes children to need to pee more often. Encourage kids to go to the bathroom 15 minutes before bedtime and right before bedtime. Some kids just pee until they no longer have the urge to pee, which means they aren’t fully emptying their bladder.
Check to see if your child is getting enough rest. Electronics and pets should be kept out of your child’s room. Punishing your child for incidents will just add to their stress, feelings of guilt, and teach them to conceal their bedwetting. Instead, have your child assist with clean-up to the extent that they are capable.
Keeping track of the number of dry nights will help inspire and reward kids. It also aids in keeping track of bedwetting to see whether it is improving or worsening, as well as identifying trends. You can offer two stickers for dry nights, one for revealing the truth about the wet night, and none for hiding or lying about it if your child is hiding their bedwetting.
It may be useful to wake children before going to bed or in the middle of the night to use the toilet. If the bed is damp when you wake them up, get them out of bed quicker. Wake them up later if they wet the bed after you wake them up. It’s possible that you’ll have to make some adjustments to find the right time.
Alarms to prevent bedwetting
Bedwetting alarms normally stick to your child’s underwear or have a sleeping pad. The alarm sounds or vibrates when the clip or pad becomes wet, teaching the child’s body to wake up when they need to pee. This only happens if the child wets the bed on a daily basis so that their brain learns to wake up to pee. This means you shouldn’t use the methods outlined above to set the alarm. Given the time and inconvenience it can cause, this should be a last resort, but evidence indicates that when done correctly, it is the most effective way of educating children to stay dry in the long run.
When to seek the help of a paediatrician:
If the problem of bedwetting is persistent, parents may look at opting for some medications as prescribed by the doctor. This certainly helps kids to a certain extent.
It is important to seek medical intervention if your child undergoes the below
More episodes of bedwetting, even during daytime. There are incidents of bedwetting constantly for 6 months.
Child is snoring loudly or gaps in breathing at night.
Has to use the restroom quite often.
Change in eating or drinking patterns.
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(The writer is Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Hebbal, Bangalore)
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