Why does my child wet the bed?
In this section:
The phenomenon of "wetting the bed" can cause various reactions in parents. If others will be alarmed, others will be irritated, still others will trivialize it. Although it's common, you still need to know why your child wets the bed. As it grows, this phenomenon should tend to disappear. Otherwise, you need to take some precautions.
Bedwetting or enuresis
Enuresis is just the medical term used to refer to the phenomenon of bedwetting. We speak of enuresis when a child, who is already old enough to be clean, still wets his bed in a way that is both unconscious and involuntary. Nocturnal enuresis therefore reflects an uncontrollable emission of urine during the night. The child does not realize that he is wetting the bed, and this not only at night, it can also happen during a nap.
This condition is associated with a learning disability of bladder control. Generally speaking, children should already be able to control their bladder contractions by the age of five. At this age, daytime bladder control is already acquired. To master it at night, it takes them several months, even a few years in some.
What type of enuresis?
Your child suffers from “primary enuresis” if he has never been potty trained. He has “secondary enuresis” if he has had dry nights before and regressed when he wets the bed again. This form accounts for about 30% of cases of the bedwetting phenomenon.
Also, if your toddler's bedwetting is linked to other disorders during the day, it is said to be "not isolated". If this is the case for your child, he may suffer from incontinence, leakage, constipation… On the other hand, if it is not linked to any disorder, it is said to be “isolated”. In this case, bedwetting is not a disease, it is simply a symptom which, most often, disappears on its own.
The different reasons why your child wets the bed
There are different reasons why your child still wets the bed.
- It is possible that bedwetting is associated with parental history. If you or your spouse struggled to keep your bed clean at night when you were growing up, chances are your child struggles to control their life at night as well. If you have both suffered from similar disorders, your little one has a 77% chance of being affected too.
- Your toddler may still wet the bed because he has difficulty waking up or a decrease in nocturnal ADH secretion. In the first case, he has such a deep sleep, which prevents him from waking up even with an urgent desire to urinate. As for the second case, it is an antidiuretic hormone which, if it is well secreted, makes it possible to avoid nocturnal leaks.
- Your child may also wet his bed at night because he is afraid to get up on his own. He is afraid to go to the toilet in the dark. In other cases, he can dream going to the toilet, while he has wet the bed.
- For cases of secondary enuresis, they are mainly associated with psycho-affective disorders. Your little one can pee again following an event that can generate stress for him. This is the case of the arrival of a little sister or a little brother, a divorce, a change of school, a move, etc.
- In rare cases, your cherub's urinary leakage can be explained by the presence of malformations of the urinary tract or neurological problems.
It should be noted that you should never pressure your child to potty train early. Admittedly, he will learn to hold back, but by force, he will not be able to pee properly. His bladder will not be completely emptied.
Treatment and consequences of bedwetting
In child psychiatry, nocturnal enuresis remains normal in children under 7 years old. If your child is already over 6 years old and he still wets his bed, know that this is not very alarming. You need to keep calm and have patience. On the other hand, if your little one has secondary enuresis, you must see a pediatrician to check if he is not suffering from any urinary disorder.
It is from the age of 11 that bedwetting requires psychotherapy treatment. Even if he is not yet that age, but bedwetting is a hindrance or a handicap for him in daily life, you can also consult a doctor. Indeed, it happens that some children experience this condition badly and end up closing in on themselves. They will avoid going to sleep with friends or going to summer camp...
Although it is usually young children who are affected by this lack of voiding control, bedwetting can persist until adolescence. Without appropriate treatment, it can persist even into adulthood. When bedwetting is diagnosed and treated correctly, the child can recover from it.
So don't wait to consult a general practitioner or a pediatrician when your toddler regularly wets his sheets or diapers (knowing that a small accident can always happen!). Would you perhaps think that your child is in good health and that it is not useful to go to see a doctor, but it can lead to essentially psychological consequences, he can:
- being afraid of being reprimanded in the morning
- to be ashamed of one's friends
- have behavioral problems
- lose self-esteem
- develop feelings of guilt, anxiety, humiliation and isolation…
Some tips to help your child have dry nights
In order for your child to learn how to keep his bed clean at night, you must help him:
- Don't blame him because you already know he's not doing it on purpose. Instead, empower him while giving him confidence and showing him that it's his potty training success that's most important to you. You can, for example, make his bed together, change his sheets or put them in the washing machine.
- Don't talk about his bedwetting in front of people outside your family circle to prevent him from feeling ashamed. Also, avoid talking about it in his presence.
- Do not punish him as this may further aggravate his disorder. According to a 2016 Italian study, when children are reprimanded, bedwetting decreased by only 40,7% compared to 59,2% in children who were not punished.
- Arrange for your child to drink more in the morning than in the evening after snacking. Avoid carbonated, calcium (milk) and salty drinks, especially towards the end of the day. This amplifies the trouble.
- Encourage him to go to the bathroom during the day. Sometimes he can hold back during the day when he's too busy playing. Also, invite him to pee before sleeping, make it a ritual every night.
- If he is afraid to go to the toilet alone at night, install night lights in the hallway and make it easier to access the toilet to encourage him. This way, he won't have to wake you up in the middle of the night.
- Do not use diapers at night. If he still suffers from bedwetting and has to sleep with friends, for example, you can use disposable pants.
- Protect his mattress with a mattress pad. Otherwise, you can opt for laminated fitted sheets.
- Accompany him throughout the healing process. Be proud of all his efforts, even if it's just a dry night. In this sense, you can keep a diary or a voiding diary. You will note the dry days and the wet days together. This will further encourage him to make more progress, as he will see that all the steps you have taken have paid off.
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