When do I begin to help my child stop wetting the bed?
Posted by Karen Radford on in bed wetting, primary nocturnal enuresis
We are frequently asked by parents when they should begin to help their child stop bed wetting. Often parents worry that their child has not stopped bed wetting at the same age as an older sibling or friend’s child , or that a younger child is dry before the older one. Generally, as a rule of thumb, we would recommend 6 years of age for girls and 7 for boys (sorry boys, you take a bit longer) but there is no reason to rule out younger children if you think they are ready and suitably motivated. The age at which health professionals recommend treatment for bedwetting varies slightly from country to country.
Another indicator is that the child is dry during the day, and you are aware that they are likely to have sufficient bladder capacity.
Emotional impact of bed wetting
It is important to aim for dry nights if your child shows signs of being emotionally impacted, stressed or embarrassed by their bed wetting. Ideally a child will be dry at an age before they need to go on sleepovers or school camps. There is the potential for a child to become socially isolated if they are resistant to situations that might lead to social embarrassment.
Another important factor to consider is the often understated impact on other family members. For example, working parents or school age children might suffer the effects of disrupted sleep if they are inadvertently disturbed, especially with multiple bed wetting incidents during the night.
Motivating your child
An important factor in the success of bedwetting training is that your child needs to be motivated and engaged. If you are ready to start the training but your child is resistant, you can use resources like ERIC’s Guide to Night Time Wetting written by ERIC, The Children's Bowel and Bladder Charity, and talk it through with your child. Also you can offer rewards for milestones on a progress or sticker chart (motivational therapy). Make it clear that it is something you are doing together - a family project.
Just give it a go!
If your child is ready and you have the emotional space and time, just give it a go! Be prepared with waterproof bedding and changes of night clothes. Try without diapers for a few nights during the holidays and see what happens, you might be surprised!. You might also want to check out our quick wins to see if any of those help. Please let us know if you have any success or tips for other parents.
Getting support from a clinical professional is a good idea if you are concerned or anxious about the possibility of underlying medical or developmental issues. If you are in the United Kingdom, many NHS School Nurses run Enuresis or Continence Clinics, and worldwide many school councillors or medical clinics offer advice or loan alarms. A visit to your child's doctor to rule out medical causes may help relieve any concerns you have, particularly in older children.
If you decide to buy your own alarm, consider our highly effective wireless alarm, the DRI Sleeper eclipse. Our alarms have up to a 90% success rate.
An additional alarm placed in your bedroom enhances training as you can quickly get up and make sure your child gets out of bed and goes straight to the toilet. This will help reinforce your child's learning.
Because the extra alarm really helps children who are deep sleepers or are slow to respond to their own alarm, we offer a heavily discounted package for parents, including the extra alarm.
Hint: put your child's alarm out of their reach so they have to get up to turn it off!!
To set expectations of time frame, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to 3 months. After that time support from a clinical professional is worthwhile, but often it is just a case of perseverance. After 3 months a visit to the Doctor is recommended to rule out medical issues.
We're here to help.
You can find further detail in a previous post ‘What age should I expect bedwetting to stop?'