Drying up worries about your child’s bedwetting | News, Sports, Jobs

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Parents quietly divulged information about their child’s bedwetting to me. This week let me see if I can provide any information on the subject of bedwetting that will sink in, or should I say sink in, and make you feel more comfortable with the problem if it occurs in your child.

Who does this affect?

First of all, bedwetting is quite common. It can run in families and affects nearly 20% of 6-year-olds, with that number decreasing by 15% per year as connections between the brain and bladder develop, until adolescence where even 1% of all otherwise healthy teenagers will still wet their beds. It is so common, especially when it only occurs at night, that it is not even necessary to worry about it before the age of 6 years.

Why does this happen?

Bedwetting is not a problem resulting from poor parenting or poor toilet training. Although it can sometimes be due to an infection or a family stressor such as a divorce or a school problem, often no specific reason is identified other than your child being a deep sleeper, bladder is smaller than normal or produces extra amounts of urine when they sleep.

What is the best way to solve the problem?

If your child is over 6 years old and still has accidents, punishment or liquid restriction at night will not solve the problem. Limiting caffeinated beverages and foods high in salt or sugar after dinner will reduce the need to urinate once your child falls asleep. Getting your child to go to the bathroom regularly during the day and just before bed can also help. If your child has this problem, talk to their healthcare professional, who can help by carefully evaluating your child to rule out an underlying problem such as a urinary tract infection that is causing increased urination. They can also give you behavioral strategies, like teaching your child to wake themselves up using an alarm clock or a dampness alarm. Waking your child once during the night to urinate can also reduce the number of accidents. If necessary, there are a few medications that can also work in the short term, but may not solve the problem as much as time will.


Lewis First, MD, is Chief of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. You can also catch “First with the Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and NBC5.

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