Most parents have changed a set of wet sheets a time or two in their parenting career. But what’s a parent to do when it’s more than once or twice, every night, or even multiple times per night?
Nocturnal bedwetting, or enuresis, is defined by involuntary urination at night occurring at least twice per month in children ages five and older, and it’s more common than you might think. More than 5 million children wet the bed each night in the U.S. That equals a good amount of frustrated parents too. Debunking some of the myths related to bedwetting can help a frustrated parent and child make it through this difficult time.
Here are some common bedwetting myths:
Myth #1: The kid is just lazy.
Truth: Kids that wet the bed aren’t lazy. They may be described as “heavy sleepers” by their parents though. But this is only a part of the reason they wet the bed. Their bodies make more urine than their bladders can hold, and their brain has not developed the ability to recognize the signal from the bladder that it is full.
Myth #2: You have to restrict your child’s fluids in the evening.
Truth: Restricting fluids has not been shown to truly fix the bedwetting problem. Plus, it can make parents feel downright awful for doing it. The truth is, the child’s body is producing more urine than it can hold. Most people produce a hormone called vasopressin that causes the body to decrease the amount of urine produced at night. Children that wet the bed normally produce less vasopressin than children who do not wet the bed.
Myth #3: Parents are to blame.
Truth: Clearly, this is not the case. But it sure can feel that way. Parents may wonder if they did something wrong while potty training. They may try many different techniques to attempt to stop bedwetting. When these don’t work, they may continue to blame themselves for trying the wrong techniques or for implementing them the wrong way, not trying hard enough or long enough. Bedwetting is usually a direct result of the body’s inability to regulate urine at night, not the result of a parenting technique or lack thereof.
Experts offer several ideas to parents.
- Get waterproof sheets and a mattress cover. This will alleviate the worry of ruining an expensive mattress, or having your child sleep on an unclean surface. You can find these at any local Wal-Mart, Target, or department store.
- Try out padded underwear with plastic covers. These can help some children recognize wetness better than a diaper-like pull-up form of underwear. Little Padded Seats is the only cloth diaper specialty store in Iowa, and just happens to be located right here in Historic Valley Junction. Investing in cloth training pants can pay off in the long run, especially when compared in price to their expensive disposable counterparts.
- Celebrate dry nights. Do not punish for wet ones.
- Get a wetness alarm. These alarms are placed in the child’s underwear and sound an alarm when it senses extra moisture. According to Renee Mercer MSN, CPNP wetness alarms are the most effective way to “cure” bedwetting. They offer a 70-80% dryness rate after one year as opposed to a 15% dryness rate from other methods. For more information on wetness alarms, visit the Bedwetting Store here.
- In some cases, your doctor may recommend medications for your child. However, due to unpleasant side effects, some parents choose medications as their last choice for a treatment option.
Whatever choice you make for your child, rest assured. Most children stop wetting the bed by age 10 if not sooner. But for a parent of a bed wetter, getting there can sure seem far off.
Hang in there parents.