Even after toilet training, it’s not uncommon for a child to occasionally wet his or her bed at night. But for parents like Ted and Lisa Ditmyer it can be frustrating. At age three their daughter, Michaela, was a frequent bed wetter. “Wen she was wetting her bed every night it was very aggravating. I had to change the sheets every day, I had to wash the sheets every morning put them back on the bed every day. It was very time-consuming and it just got very old.”
Aand worrisome. “Is she all done?” “Yeah” In the beginning, Ted and Lisa were very concerned about their daughter’s condition, but they informed her pediatrician and were relieved to learn that it’s very common for children Michaela’s age to wet the bed. “Bedwetting is so common that in young children we don’t even consider it a disorder of any kind. So for example, 10% of five-year-olds wet the bed on a regular basis. I wouldn’t consider that an abnormality. And in fact I don’t make any interventions in younger children who are wetting the bed.”
“It’s nice to hear that Michela isn’t the only one with the problem. It was nice to be reassured by the pediatrician that there’s other children with the same problem.” What causes a child to wet his or her bed? There may be a number of factors, including a small bladder capacity, genetic factors, a urinary tract infection and even emotional stress. But the primary and most common cause of bedwetting is difficulty waking. A child’s body is not yet trained to recognize the signs of a full bladder, so the child simply won’t wake up when it’s time to go to the bathroom. “Some studies show that children wet the bed during all different stages of sleep, but children who sleep very deeply, particularly children for example who’ve just given up their nap, so they’re sleeping very deeply, um are not aware on any level of the contractions of the bladder.” w
What can be done? Ted and Lisa find that waking Michaela up to use the bathroom three hours after she goes to sleep helps reduce the number of wet nights. “I try to do my part and help out with Michaela’s problem by waking her up and build a night. And if my wife is too tired and take her to the bathroom and it’s kind of a bonding experience there and it’s nice that we can have that time together.” For some children, avoiding liquids late at night and using the restroom before bedtime can help. But that’s usually not enough to solve the problem all together. Until bedwetting stops there are a few easy steps parents can take to help their children feel more comfortable. They can protect beds with fitted plastic mattress covers used with overlay pads for absorption, provide children with protective undergarments, read books on bedwetting to them, have clean pajamas ready and waiting for them, and encourage them to help change the sheets and remake the bed. This can help give a child a sense of control and make him or her feel like a big boy or girl.
Lisa says that family support is also imperative. “The other children in the house do not tease her at all. We have made it a point to instruct them not to tease her about the bedwetting and they’ve been very supportive about that. The whole family has been very supportive with Michaela’s problem. As a matter of fact my oldest daughter Deanna helps Michaela out a lot in the morning. She’ll take her to the bathroom, make sure she goes to the bathroom again, undress her, take off her wet clothes and clean her up and get her ready for the day. Family support is very important with a bedwetting problem. It helps me, it relieves my stress and it enables Michaela not to feel inadequate in the house.”
Often the only real complication of bedwetting is the embarrassment the child feels for having done it. To help minimize these feelings, explain to her that bedwetting is not her fault and that lots of kids her age do it. And never punish her for having made a mistake. “I think the most important thing to remember about bed wetting, is that this is something children will outgrow, so that won’t harm them in the long term unless it’s made into a big issue of the family that makes them feel ashamed or belittled, or makes it feel as though there’s something wrong. So it’s important to help children feel like they’re okay, this is just part of the normal development.” Little bodies need time to mature to the point where they can actually get up and go when they need to.
It’s starting to happen for Michaela. “One time at night she did, she walked into my room and she said ‘mommy I just went to the potty’ you know and she realized she had to go to the bathroom and she got up herself and went to the bathroom.
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