Bedwetting can be extremely stressful for a family and very embarrassing for children. Kids often feel guilty for their uncontrollable actions, and the shame and humiliation only increase with age.

The most common cause of bedwetting is being a deep sleeper. Deep sleepers don’t recognize that they have to go to the bathroom, and as a result, they wet the bed. Other causes, though typically rare, might be having a smaller-than-average-bladder, a hormonal issue, constipation or a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea.

Bedwetting also is common if a family member was a bedwetter. Although no age is set for when a child should theoretically stop wetting his or her bed, seek the help of your pediatrician if your child is still struggling with the issue by age 8.

When children reach this age, they often want to go to sleepovers or camp, but feel they can’t for fear of embarrassment of either wetting the bed or wearing a diaper. Bedwetting is not something children are doing on purpose. We have ways to try and fix the problem or make sure there isn’t an underlying cause.

Tips to keeping the sheets dry

Here are some tips for how parents can help their child stop wetting the bed:

  • Though it’s frustrating, never punish your child for wetting the bed. It isn’t an act he or she is doing on purpose.
  • If your child wets the bed, have him or her help you take off the sheets and wash his or her clothes if he or she is old enough. This should not be done as punishment or in malice, but as diplomatically as possible.
  • Have your child drink more fluids earlier in the day and less in the evenings. A good rule of thumb is to drink 80 percent of fluids before 5 p.m.
  • Have your child use the bathroom before going to bed.
  • Try to determine what time your child is wetting the bed.

Once you discover the time of the bedwetting, set an alarm so you can wake your child and say, “Let’s go potty.”

These practices take time to become effective, possibly several months. If your child is still wetting the bed at 4 or 5 years of age, don’t panic. However, if the issue is causing problems in the home or your child is approaching the age of 8 or so, speak with your pediatrician about other methods of treatment.

Laurie Gray, M.D., is a Cook Children’s pediatrician, located at 701 Matlock Road in Mansfield, Texas.

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