For millions of kids, bed-wetting is a normal part of growing up. According to The Mayo Clinic, bed-wetting affects about one of every four children at age 5, and boys make up two-thirds of this group. While bed-wetting is frustrating, it isn't usually a cause for concern until your child is around age 6. Reasons why kids wet the bed aren't fully understood, but are thought to include underdeveloped bladders, constipation (when hard stool puts extra pressure on the bladder), heavy sleep, and infection. It's not caused by physical or emotional problems, though emotional distress may cause bed-wetting in a child who has been dry for some time. Almost all children grow out of bed-wetting, but there are some steps you can take to help move the process along. Try the following seven tactics to beat your child's bed-wetting ASAP.
- Be supportive. Reassure your child that wetting the bed is a very normal, common issue and that it won't last forever. Tell her that you know she's not doing it on purpose and that you aren't angry or upset (even if it's the third time it's happened that week). Never shame your child for bed-wetting.
- Share your own experiences. Bed-wetting often runs in families, so if you or your partner wet the bed as a kid, be open with your child about it. Not only will it help him feel less embarrassed, but it will help him understand that he will outgrow it with time.
- Talk to your child about solutions. If your child is old enough, it's important to open the lines of communication. Brainstorm bed-wetting solutions like drinking fewer liquids in the evenings or making sure to empty his bladder right before bedtime. Keep it positive and open, and you'll help him feel more confident and encourage better bedtime behaviors.
- Invest in bed protection. A waterproof mattress or mattress pad protector will help keep clean-up to a minimum. While you'll still have loads of laundry, at least you won't be cleaning up a urine-soaked mattress, a tough and time-consuming task. Also consider placing clean pajamas and sheets near your child's bed for quick changes in the middle of the night.
- Praise and reward dry days. Consider creating an incentive chart, which can subconsciously help your child end bed-wetting. Give your child a sticker to place on a chart every night he stays dry. When he earns five or 10 stickers, he gets a reward. This kind of positive reinforcement is supereffective for some, but not all, children battling bed-wetting.
- Amp up the bathroom reminders. Be sure to remind your child to use the bathroom right before she gets in bed, and make sure she knows that it's OK to get up in the middle of the night to pee (nightlights can help her get there). Consider waking your child once right before you go to sleep to help them eliminate any liquids they drank in the hours before bedtime, but waking them up multiple times a night is not recommended (a tired kid is usually a stressed kid, and stress won't help with bed wetting).
- Talk to your doctor. If your child is 6 or older, or suddenly started wetting the bed after being dry for months, talk to your pediatrician about potential causes and solutions (moisture alarms and medications are last-resort remedies for extended bed-wetting you'll want to get her opinion on). However, keep in mind that in most bed-wetting cases, there isn't a physical reason — or a quick fix.