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Why does my child wet the bed?

Bedwetting is one of the most common childhood conditions, impacting 1 in 5 children in Australia. Despite this commonality, bed wetting, also known as nocturnal enuresis, can be distressing for all members of the family and may also cause embarrassment and frustration to the chid, impacting the ability for sleepovers and solid night’s sleep. 

How common is bed wetting? 

Are you concerned that your child is the only one wetting the bed at night? The statistics may be surprising to you. In a class of 30 children, we could expect that at the ages of….

  • 5 years: 5 wet the bed

  • 7 years: 2 wet the bed

  • 12 years: 1 wets the bed

  • 15 years: 1 child in every 2 classes wets the bed

Why is it happening? 

There can be numerous reasons why bed wetting can occur, related to dietary or fluid habits, kidney function or bowel problems such as constipation. Bedwetting can also be one of those unfortunate traits inherited by family members.  If mum or dad wet the bed as a child, there is a 40% chance that the child will too. If both parents wet the bed, this increases to a 77% chance that the child will have issues with bedwetting.

Bed wetting is not caused by …

  • Laziness 

  • Being young for age

  • Bad behaviour

  • Being rebellious 

  • Drinking water after dinner 

While some other health conditions can be related to wetting the bed, the majority of children who are bed wetters are healthy. 

Treating bedwetting

The good news is that most children will grow out of bedwetting without any treatment; however, the length of this journey can be unpredictable.  Bedwetting has been associated with detrimental effects socially and psychologically on the child and not to mention the additional financial burden to the parents and carers who are purchasing bed protectors and nappies. 

If your child is 6 years or older and is unhappy with wetting the bed and would like to make a change, our paediatric continence physiotherapists at the Mater Health and Wellness, Wake up Dry clinic, may be able to help. The qualified physiotherapist will have a thorough conversation with the child and carer to establish the history of bed wetting and any potential contributing factors. Some of these issues may be related to: 

  • Your child being a deep sleeper

  • A bladder which becomes irritable with just small volumes of urine, leading to wetting the bed

  • Too much urine produced by the kidneys at night. 

Together, a plan will be developed to help conquer the problem. 

What do we have to do? 

There are numerous interventions that the physiotherapist may suggest to help with bedwetting , including: 

  • Education on bladder function

  • Fluid and diet modifications

  • Constipation management 

  • Bed wetting alarms

  • Timed toileting 

  • And much more!

What now? 

As you can see, your child is not alone. If your child is wanting to get dry, please contact the Mater Health and Wellness Clinic on 07 3163 6000 for an appointment. A doctor’s referral is not required. 

 

Sources:

Bedwetting. (2018). Retrieved September 4, 2018, from https://www.continence.org.au/pages/bedwetting.html

One Step at a Time: A Parents Guide to Toilet Skills for Children. (2018). Retrieved September 4, 2018, from https://continencevictoria.org.au/one-step-at-a-time/ 

Gontard, A., & Neveus, T. (2006). The management of disorders of bladder and bowel control in childhood. London: Mac Keith Press

 

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