Know that bedwetting is often a normal part of growing up. Most children don't stay dry at night until about the age of 3. And it's usually not a concern for parents until around age 6. There are ways to work toward dry nights as a family.
A Child Who Wets the Bed Needs Your Support
Reassure your child by being supportive. They aren't wetting the bed on purpose. And bedwetting isn't typically a sign of an emotional or physical problem. Explain that it is normal, very common, and that they won't always wet the bed.
Talk and Share Your Experience
Bedwetting often runs in families. If you or your partner wet the bed as a child, talk with your child about it. It'll help them see that people do outgrow it. And it may help them feel less alone and embarrassed.
What Causes Bedwetting?
Many things can lead to bedwetting. It could be slower development of bladder control or heavy sleep. Stress and anxiety can be a cause. A child who's been dry and suddenly starts wetting the bed may have an infection, or a big life change such as a move may be bothering them. Be sure to speak with your doctor if this is a new problem.
Let Your Child Help Find Solutions
If they are 4 or older, ask for their ideas. What might help them stop wetting the bed? Brainstorm together. Drinking less in the evening and cutting back on caffeinated drinks may be worth trying. You can also offer options such as absorbent pants or waterproof sheets. Reassure them that most kids out grow this. By keeping it positive and involving them, you'll help build their confidence and encourage good bedtime habits.
Praise and Reward for Staying Dry
Some families mark wet days and dry days on a calendar. Stickers or stars can make it fun. If they wet, be supportive and remind them that results will come if they keep up their efforts.
Provide Simple Reminders
Make using the bathroom just before they get in bed part of their bedtime routine. Also remind them that it's OK to get up during the night to use the bathroom. Nightlights can help them find their own way when they need to go.
Does Waking During the Night Help?
Resist the urge to wake your child a lot during the night. If you use this approach, waking once a night should be enough, perhaps right before you go to bed yourself. Keep in mind that if you deprive your child of rest and sleep, you may increase their level of stress. Stress can be a bedwetting trigger.
Involve Your Child in Cleaning Up
When they wet the bed, they can put their PJs in the hamper or help you change the sheets. Make sure they understand it's not a punishment, just part of what has to be done. The idea is to make them more aware of their bedwetting without scolding them or making them feel ashamed.
Clean Up: Removing the Smell of Urine
Accidents happen. And when they do, urine can leave a stubborn odor in clothes and in bed linens. Try adding a half cup to a cup of white vinegar to your wash to remove the smell.
Cleaning a Mattress: Step 1
If you need to clean urine from a mattress, first use towels to blot up as much as you can. Keep blotting, but don't rub, until no more moisture comes to the surface.
Cleaning a Mattress: Step 2
Once you've blotted up as much of the urine as you can, saturate the entire area of urine stain with hydrogen peroxide. Let it stand for 5 minutes, and then use towels again to blot the area dry.
Cleaning a Mattress: Step 3
Once the mattress is dry, sprinkle baking soda over the entire area and let it stand for 24 hours. The next day, vacuum the baking soda away. It should be clean and odor free.
Easing Sleepover Stress
If your child is nervous about sleepovers, remind them of the steps they use to stay dry at home. Giving them absorbent pants and extra clothes in case of an accident might put them at ease. A sleeping bag with waterproof lining may also help.
Beforehand, notify the adult host that your child may have some worries about bedwetting. Discuss your child’s plans for handling it so everyone feels prepared.
Some medications (desmopressin or imipramine) may help for special occasions when your older child wants to stay dry, such as at camp.
Be Patient About Bedwetting
Scolding or losing your temper won't make your child stop wetting the bed. Don’t bring up bedwetting in front of others to try to shame them. Embarrassment will only increase their stress and anxiety. Meanwhile, remember that bedwetting eventually does stop. Try practicing patience and providing support while you wait.
Dealing With Teasing in the Home
Bedwetting can make your child an easy target for teasing. To help them handle it, make your home safe for them. Don't allow anyone in your family to tease about it. Explain to siblings that bedwetting is something their brother doesn't have control over and that they need everybody's love and support.
Bullying at School About Bedwetting
If your child avoids other children or comes home with unexplained injuries, they may be being bullied. Listen to what your child says. Talk with them and let them know that you know it's not their fault. Then talk with people at their school and ask what they've seen. Be proactive and work with the school to find ways to make the teasing stop.
When to Call the Doctor
If your child is still bedwetting at age 7, consider setting up a doctor's visit. While there may be a medical problem, most of the time there isn't. Also, see the doctor if your child suddenly starts wetting the bed after being dry for 6 months or more.
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American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry: "Bedwetting."
A Child Grows in Brooklyn: "Cleaning Urine From Mattresses."
Ohio State University, Family and Consumer Sciences: "Quick 'n Easy Stain Removal."
Fort Valley State University, Cooperative Extension Program: "Removing Urine Stains from Carpets and Upholstery."
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Canwest Global Communications, Canada.com: "Bedwetting: Back to School: Dealing With Teasing."