Bedwetting, also known as nocturnal enuresis and nighttime incontinence, is a very common problem affecting thousands of children living across the United States. It can be described as the act of urinating involuntarily during the night. Almost all children have wet their beds while sleeping at some time or the other. However, when this becomes a habit, or a regular feature, it can cause a lot of embarrassment to the child. As embarrassing as this problem can be for a child, it is the parents that go through the stress, hassle and inconvenience of changing the child’s bed sheets and pajamas, usually in the middle of the night. What makes it worse is that most parents and other family members have the tendency to look at bedwetting as a sign of poor toilet training skills. However, this is not true at all; the habit of bedwetting is a part of the developmental stage in many children. Although enuresis is prevalent in children of both genders, it is a bit more common in boys.

In case of those kids who are very young, bedwetting is not even a cause for concern. Children who are below the age of 6 may not have established an adequate amount of control over their bladders. This often becomes evident during the night or when the child takes a nap. However, in case your child continues to wet his or her bed after crossing the age of 7, it may be best for you to take notice of it and establish the possible causes without any delay. While some children wet their bed for no apparent reasons, in others this habit could be an indication of an underlying condition.

Fortunately, you can seek professional help to treat bedwetting in your child. However, the process is quite lengthy and requires a lot of understanding, patience and commitment. Bedwetting cures recommended by doctors include therapy, medication and home remedies. In many cases, children do not even need to go through any treatment. Simple changes in lifestyle and dietary habit can help alleviate this problem to a great extent. However, before administering any form of treatment for bedwetting in your child, it is important to identify its possible causes.

Symptoms of Bedwetting

Most parents and caregivers strongly believe that children should be fully toilet trained by the age of 4. However, it may not always possible to set a target, for a child to develop bladder control completely. Studies indicate that bedwetting is prevalent in around 15% of the children who are between the ages of 5 and 6. This problem also affects approximately 5% of children between the ages of 8 and 11. Most children do outgrow this habit on their own, without any help. However, in some cases, parental or perhaps even professional intervention may be required. Involuntary urination or nighttime incontinence in many children may not actually be a problem on its own; it could indeed be the symptom of a deeper underlying condition, which requires immediate medical attention. It is best to consult a doctor, in case the habit of bedwetting is accompanied by:

  • Painful urination
  • Increase in thirst
  • Snoring
  • Changes in the color of urine
  • Rashes on the bottom or genital area
  • Sleeping problems
  • Daytime drowsiness

In case your child begins to wet his or her bed all of a sudden or after a period of being dry during the nights, it could be a sign of a problem that needs to be checked without any delay.

Causes of Bedwetting

In many children, it may be a challenge for the doctor to determine the exact causes of bedwetting. However, some of the common factors that have been known to play a vital role include:

  • Bladder Size: At times, your child’s bladder may be a bit smaller, as compared to others. Alternately, the bladder may not have developed sufficiently to hold the urine that is produced during the course of the night
  • Recognition Problem: If there is a delay in the maturation of the nerves that control the bladder, then your child not arouse from sleep to go to the bathroom.
  • Hormonal Imbalance: Under normal circumstances, most kids produce an Anti-Diuretic Hormone (ADH), which slows down the production of nighttime urine. Because of an imbalance, your child’s body may not be generate the required about of this hormone, which leads to excess urination during the night.
  • Stress or Changes: Events that may seem normal or perhaps even exciting to you could actually be quite stressful for your child, such as moving to a new place, preparing for the arrival of a baby or starting a new school, to name a few. Many children have been known to start bedwetting because of such factors.
  • Infections: Your child may face difficulty in exercising bladder control, because of a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). In this case, the problem occurs not only at night, but also during the day.
  • Sleep Apnea: A serious sleeping disorder known as sleep apnea could also cause your child to wet his or her bed
  • Diabetes: One of the first signs of this condition in children is bedwetting. In this case though, the child may also experience increased thirst, fatigue and weight loss.
  • Constipation: This condition could restrict your child’s bladder capacity, which in turn could lead to bedwetting at night.
  • Structural Defects: At times, your child could end up wetting the bed mainly because of an anatomical problem in the urinary system or neurological system.
  • Using Diuretics: There are certain medicines that have diuretic properties and can make your child go to the bathroom more often, perhaps even during the night. Drowsiness is also a common side effect associated with these medicines, which could lead to bedwetting.

At times, a child could actually wet the bed for no apparent reason at all.

Remedies for Bedwetting

In case it is determined that your child is not wetting the bed because of any medical problems, you may be advised to first incorporate a few simple changes or use home remedies to deal with the problem. Some of the most widely recommended lifestyle habits and home remedies for bedwetting include:

  • Alleviating any fears or stress that they child may have, by talking to them
  • Encouraging the child to urinate at the start of the bedtime routine and then, once again, just before actually going to bed in a daily basis
  • Ensuring that the child stays away from foods or beverages that contain even the smallest amount alcohol or caffeine

Making the child follow a schedule for urinating during the course of the day

  • Restricting the intake of liquids, especially after a particular time in the evening
  • Treating conditions like constipation, either through a diet, or through traditional medication
  • Using herbs like Lemon Balm, Horsetail, Zea Mays and Corn silk, which can help alleviate stress and anxiety in children

There have been many cases of children, who refuse to go to the bathroom at night, mainly because they are scared to walk out of their rooms in the dark. Such children tend to wet their beds after a while, as they cannot control their bladders all night long. In order to avoid this, parents are advised to ensure that the path from the room to the bathroom in never completely dark. Placing a small lamp or a dim light in the child’s room may also be very helpful.

Diet for Bedwetting

Several recent reports claim that there is a correlation between bedwetting and a diet. Health experts also admit that there are certain food items, which can help to strengthen the bladder. Therefore, eating higher amounts of such bladder strengthening food can help reduce the problem of bedwetting. Moreover, by treating digestive problems, like constipation, through a high-fiber diet, you could also eliminate the problem of nocturnal enuresis in most children. Given below are a few dietary suggestions that you can incorporate in your child’s diet:

  • Increase the amount of fibrous food consumed, like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and cereals, as they flush out the harmful toxins from the body
  • Include higher amounts of milk, sesame, bananas and almonds in the child’s diet, as they help to stop bedwetting
  • Restrict the consumption of meat, sweets, foods with artificial additives, processed food, junk foods, soy and eggs
  • Strictly avoid colas, sodas and fruit juice as they can worsen the problem.

Following a healthy diet, high in fresh fruits and vegetables is good for all children in general, as it improves their resistance, overall health and wellbeing. Such foods also provide adequate nutrition for the different organs and systems in the body to develop. Therefore, following a diet that is high in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can have a beneficial effect on the child’s overall health.

However it is important to understand that a role of a diet in bedwetting is still being determined. Due to limited research, it is not possible to make claims either way.

Suggestions for Bedwetting

As a parent or a caregiver, it is important for you to understand the effect bedwetting can have on your child. This is an involuntary act, one he or she has no control over and therefore, punishing your child may not be the right thing to do.

The first step you need to take in addressing the problem is talking to your child about any fears and anxieties faced. There are many children who have stopped bedwetting upon receiving a little extra attention from their parents.

In case your child has an accident after being dry for days, don’t give up. Instead, continue your efforts as normal, treating the accident as a one-off problem.

Let your child feel more in-control of the situation, by helping you to change the bed covers, rinsing them and placing them in a laundry bag. Do not forget to praise your child for all the help.

In case your child suffers from any health problem and is on medication for that, it may be best to check if the medication could be responsible, by speaking to a doctor about it.