You know the situation all too well. You’re awoken to the pitter-patter of tiny feet walking across your bedroom floor. You flutter your eyelids open to see your child standing at the end of your bed in damp pajamas, looking disappointed and embarrassed. And then, they say the dreaded words, “I had an accident.”
While this can be frustrating and disappointing for both child and parent, do you ever catch yourself wondering...why do kids wet the bed?
The answer is both complex and simple: no one knows for sure.
Various factors can play a role in why your child is suffering from nighttime bedwetting, or sleep enuresis:
- Your child is a deep sleeper and cannot recognize when they have a full bladder.
- Your child has a urinary tract infection (UTI).
- Your child is consuming a highly “overactive bladder diet.”
Foods That Irritate the Bladder
Some foods irritate the bladder more than others. Being able to recognize these foods and removing them from your child’s diet can potentially stop nocturnal enuresis from occurring.
These foods include, but are not limited to:
Carbonated drinks and soda (even if uncaffeinated)
Coffee and tea (even if uncaffeinated)
Acidic fruits and juices (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes)
Tomato based products (sauces, juices, etc.)
Cranberry juice and cranberries
Milk products (milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream)
Sugary foods or drinks (including “diet” drinks with aspartame)
While there is nothing wrong with any of these foods and drinks, limiting or fully removing these foods from your child’s diet is a simple solution to stop bedwetting naturally.
Process of Elimination
Now that you know which foods to avoid, we recommend eliminating all of the above bladder irritating foods from your child’s diet for at least 10 days. If you see improvement, this could be a sign that one or more of the foods in your child’s diet could be irritating the bladder and causing nocturnal enuresis.
After the 10 day period is over, start to reintroduce each food, one by one, every few days. If symptoms return, you’ll be able to easily identify which food(s) you should steer clear from in your child’s diet. Remember, it is very important for your child to drink plenty of water when adding these foods back into their diet.
- Try to encourage your child to drink more fluids in the morning and afternoon, rather than at night.
- Remember that fluids come from foods, too! Foods like soup, fresh fruits, and cucumbers are all high in water content.
- Drinking too little fluid can lead to a buildup of toxins in your urine, which can irritate the bladder and cause nocturnal enuresis to worsen. Because of this, we don’t recommend withholding fluids from your child before bed. However, aim to only let your child drink water (as opposed to soda or milk) after 4pm.
- Children should drink approximately 1 liter of water per day, but make sure this intake is evenly distributed throughout the day to avoid bladder irritation.
Restricting foods from your child’s diet may be difficult, but try to see the hope in the future - imagine no more middle of the night clean ups or worrying about accidents when your child goes for a sleepover with friends. It’s important to remember that eliminating bedwetting doesn’t happen overnight, but removing diuretic foods and drinks from your child’s diet is one of the easiest options in your journey of preventing bedwetting.
If your child’s nocturnal enuresis continues to persist past age 7, we recommend visiting your healthcare provider for further steps on how to prevent bedwetting. Other tools such as bedwetting alarms, bedwetting medication, or diapers for children could also be useful options for your child.