Are Your Child’s Sheets Wet Again?

Children do not wet the bed on purpose, out of spite or to irritate their parents. Just as developmental milestones vary from child to child, so does the ability to control the bladder. Bedwetting is normal for children below five years of age. Beyond this age, it may be due to several reasons: being a sound sleeper, your child may not wake to the stimulus of a full bladder; he may have small bladder capacity; or he may simply be making too much urine at night. In most cases, there is no defined cause for bedwetting. Most children will outgrow bedwetting, so do not worry. Take these steps instead:

Do not punish, ridicule or tease as these can lead to long-lasting mental scars.

Set correct goals. Train your child to wake up at night to go to the toilet. Carrying him to the toilet while he is half-asleep only reinforces the problem (as does persistent use of diapers).

Make it easy. The bathroom should be near and easy to reach. A nightlight can help.

No excessive fluids. Lots of fluids in the day train the bladder to hold large amounts of urine. However, do control how much your child drinks after dinner. Avoid caffeinated drinks (eg. tea, coffee, cola and even chocolate) as they stimulate urine production.

Avoid constipation as it reduces the amount of urine the bladder can comfortably hold. Give your child lots of vegetables, fruits, wholegrain cereals, fluids and exercise.

Encourage your child to take responsibility as much as possible (eg. changing his sheets if he’s old enough to do so). Remind him to empty his bladder before bed. A written notice can help.

Keep a record of dry and wet nights to measure progress. Reward ‘dry’ nights with praise or treats.

Be patient, loving & encouraging. Achieving dry nights can take time.

When is it a real problem?

A 2001 study conducted in primary school children in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya found that nine percent of 7 year olds and two percent of 12 year olds still wet their beds. Older children and those who wet more than three nights a week are less likely to outgrow the problem.

If bedwetting continues beyond the age of seven or if it is distressing the child or family, do seek professional help. In a small number of children, bedwetting may be due to a urinary tract infection, childhood diabetes, neurological deficit or developmental delay.

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