Several reasons why your tot might be wetting the bed

If washing soiled bed linen has become a daily occurrence in your home, read on for reasons why your toddler might be wetting her bed.

If you’re wondering how common bed-wetting is among children, the answer might surprise you.

According to Pretoria-based counselling psychologist, Sigi Graham, from the Child Behaviour Centre, an estimated 10% of five-year-olds wet their beds. These figures reduce steadily each year and only about 5% of children still wet their beds at the age of 10 years old.

“A child will have to wet his bed at least twice a week for a period of three consecutive months before a diagnosis of enuresis can be made,” says Graham.

Exploring the different types of bed-wetting

There are five different types of bed-wetting:

  1. Nocturnal enuresis: This happens at night while a child is asleep.
  2. Diurnal enuresis: This happens while a child is awake.
  3. Nocturnal and diurnal enuresis: This happens both during the day and night.
  4. Primary enuresis: The involuntary discharge of urine at night by children old enough to be expected to have bladder control.
  5. Secondary enuresis: A condition that develops at least six months – or even several years – after a child has learned to control his or her bladder.

Causes of bed-wetting

There may be various causes of enuresis. “Bed-wetting may be a result of a medical condition, genetics, sleep problems, hormonal problems, or emotional problems,” says Graham. “If your child has a problem with bladder control, it’s best to take him or her to a medical professional to find out what the problem is.”

When is it appropriate to seek expert assistance?

“If you’re worried about your child’s health or bladder control you should voice these concerns to your paediatrician when you take him for his routine check-ups,” says Graham. If there’s anything to be concerned about, the doctor will advise you as to what to do next and how to handle the situation.

Steps to prevent bed-wetting

Graham says exercise, habit changes, and medication may be used to treat enuresis. “Before treatment for bed-wetting can be prescribed, a child will have to undergo a medical examination to determine the possible cause of his problem. Treatment may sometimes include medication, psychological evaluation, or therapy. The doctor may also advise adjustments to the child’s diet.” “Parents should restrict their child’s fluid intake before bedtime and make sure he visits the toilet just before he goes to bed. The child should pay another visit to the toilet before the parents go to bed as well,” recommends Graham. Children shouldn’t be shamed for wetting their beds. A positive and motivational attitude is necessary to work towards success.

The do’s and don’ts of caring for a child with enuresis

  • Try to maintain a positive attitude and motivate your child to succeed.
  • Invest in a mattress protector to minimise damage to your child’s bed.
  • If your child does wet his bed, help him clean up and put him back to bed.
  • Protect your child’s dignity. Don’t make fun of the situation.
  • Don’t exclude any medical conditions that may be the cause of his bed-wetting.
  • Avoid punishing your child and placing any unnecessary pressure on him as this may add to the problem and not resolve it.


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