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Children's Health

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Helping Bedwetters: Tips From the Trenches

Parents and doctors offer their best tips for helping your bedwetting child -- and you -- cope.

Offer Support and Encouragement to Bedwetters continued...

Sometimes kids wear disposable underwear for sleepovers and camp. That’s fine as long as the child is OK with it, but don’t force bedwetting undergarments on a child.

Thinking about how difficult the problem is for them can make you more compassionate, says Susan, 49, whose son Mike, now 10, was a bedwetter at age 6 but got dry after using a bed alarm. "It's a horrible issue, and it's embarrassing [for them]," she says. "I just felt bad for him."

If there are other children in the family who are already dry at night, enforce a strict no-teasing rule about the bedwetting.

Make It Easy on Bedwetters -- and Yourself

Consider the "double bubble" method of making the bed. That involves using a plastic sheet to protect the mattress, then a regular sheet and a blanket. On top of that, repeat the layer of plastic sheet, regular sheet and blanket.

When it's age appropriate, teach the child how to strip off the top layer, our doctors say. That way, there's no fumbling for fresh linens at 2 a.m. Be sure fresh pajamas are by the bed, too, so your child can change into dry ones quickly. You might also keep disposable underwear on hand for younger children, so they can change themselves in the middle of the night.

If a child needs parental help, split up the tasks or assign it in a way that agrees with both partners. Jane's husband got up when necessary in the middle of the night when Billy was bedwetting, and she helped at other times. "My husband is always able to go back to sleep," she says, "and I'm not."

Some parents wash the sheets themselves; others ask the child, if he's old enough, to do it. It's OK to have the child take responsibility, Parker says. "But often it's [considered] a punishment: 'You wet, you clean.'" That's not advisable, of course.

Parents can ease up on themselves, too, doctors say. It's nothing they did wrong, although doctors say they sometimes have to convince parents of that.

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