Bedwetting may be a common childhood problem, but that doesn’t mean it is something that can just be brushed off by parents as a passing phase.
Understandably, for both parents and children, it can be an upsetting period and the increase in washing can be frustrating for mum and dad.
But Siobhan Freegard, founder of Channel Mum told HuffPost UK, cautions against letting your child see your frustration (as far as possible), as it will likely prolong the situation, and instead try to understand what is causing it, as this will make it easier for both you and your child to cope with.
Here are six questions that parents often ask when their child wets the bed:
1. Why do children wet the bed?
According to the NHS there’s usually no obvious reason why children wet the bed, but it could be because your child produces more wee than their bladder can cope with, has an overactive bladder (meaning it can only hold a small amount of wee), or they are a very deep sleeper so they don’t react to the signals telling their brain their bladder is full.
“Bedwetting is distressing for both parent and child but it can be overcome,” Freegard said.
“The condition can be emotional, physical or sometimes a combination of both so don’t discount any possibility - but do remember it’s never your child’s fault.”
Bedwetting often runs in families too; Your child is 44% more likely to if one parent wet the bed, and this increases to 77% if both parents did, suggesting a possible genetic link.
2. How common is bedwetting?
And it isn’t just younger children affected by bedwetting, according to a 2011 study, it also affects one in every 15 seven-year-olds, so in a normal sized school class in the UK there are at least two children going through this at any time.
“It’s key to remember there is no perfect age for staying dry at night,” said Freegard.
“Some children manage it as early as three while others still occasionally wet the bed at five or six. All children develop differently so you can carry on using pull ups aged four and five without needing to worry.”
3. What can you do at home to stop bedwetting?
No matter how often you end up washing the sheets, Freegard reminds parents not to take your anger your out on your child.
“However frustrated you feel, don’t ever make them feel bad about it as it won’t help, and can instil a sense of shame which can be very damaging long-term,” she said.
Instead try these at home strategies to help with bedwetting:
Buy extra bedlinen so you don’t run out, and have clean sheets, duvet covers and pyjamas all in one drawer in their bedroom. Put baby wipes in there too for small accidents and clean flannels for bigger accidents. Having everything ready to go in one place makes it so much easier to deal with.
Buy two waterproof fitted sheets and make the bed twice (waterproof sheet, fitted sheet and repeat). This way when the bed gets wet, rip off the top two layers, bung the wet sheets in the bath ready to deal with in the morning.
Get your child clean and dry with fresh pjs on and they can hop back in bed quickly without getting cold waiting for their bed to be remade.
Machine washable duvets and pillows make life so much easier!
Cutting out squashes, fizzy drinks and sticking to water/milk really helps. Make sure they drink loads during the day, but cut out drinks after 6pm.
4. What emotional support should parents offer bedwetters?
“Reassure your child that they are not alone - every classroom has children who are also wetting the bed. Make sure your partner and your family understand too and that when it happens you are reassuring and kind and not showing annoyance,” said Freegard.
5. Can my child still attend sleepovers?
Sending your child to sleep at someone else’s house might seem like a terrible idea if they’re already struggling in the comfort of their own home, but Freegard reassures parents that these social occasions are possible.
“Don’t let your child miss out because you are worried,” she said.
“Provide your child with two sets of identical pyjamas and sleeping bags and a plastic bag to put anything wet in.
“Make sure they have a nominated adult helper who they can go to for help. Ask the teacher or leader if they could pass on the details of another child who wets the bed who will be there - then with the other parents permission the children can be told.”
6. When should you visit your GP about bedwetting?
The NHS says bedwetting is only really a problem if it begins to bother you or your child. It’s not usually considered a problem in children under five.
Freegard says that if home treatments don’t work, then consider visiting your doctor.
“The doctor can refer you to a specialist nurse with advice and support to help your child get dry,” she explained.
“They may suggest simple steps such as cutting down on drinks before bedtime, popping your child on the loo just before bed and again in the night.
“Next steps include training pads with an alarm to gently wake your child if they wet the bed. Or they can investigate if there is an underlying cause such as late bladder development.”