5 Parenting Tips for Overcoming Nocturnal Enuresis (Bedwetting)

Nocturnal enuresis, or bedwetting, can be very concerning for both the parent and affected child. The exhaustion from middle of the night cleanups in addition to worrying about your child can quickly become overwhelming. You may not exactly know where to start, but with these few tips, you’ll be better equipped to handle your child’s enuresis.

What Is Enuresis?

Enuresis, simply defined, is the involuntary loss of urine, particularly by children. Although, it should be noted that nocturnal enuresis can also occur in adults. Nighttime incontinence, or nocturnal enuresis, occurs during sleep and can be a normal part of development. It can also be inherited from a relative.

Until around age 7, children are still developing bladder control, so occasional bedwetting can be normal. If accidents begin suddenly after months of no incidents, or occur consistently after age 7, we recommend consulting your child’s healthcare provider.

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Parenting Tips for Dealing with Enuresis

1. Don't Wake Your Child at Night

It is common for parents to think that they can avoid cleaning the bed sheets by waking their child during the night to use the restroom before they wet the bed. However, this can disrupt your child’s sleeping cycle, which can increase stress on both you and your child. This also can interrupt your child’s ability to recognize their need to urinate during their sleep on their own. While this may seem like an obvious solution to the bedwetting problem, it isn’t a sustainable solution for your child’s bladder training.

2. Don't Skip the Doctor Visit

When a child begins a pattern of wetting the bed, parents are often told not to worry about it until their child is at least 7-years-old. However, enuresis can be a symptom of a larger health concern. If bedwetting is accompanied by infrequent or hard stools, snoring, pain, or excessive thirst, we recommend visiting your child’s healthcare provider to rule out any serious medical conditions. Although most children outgrow this condition on their own, nocturnal enuresis can be caused and/or compounded by underlying medical conditions such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Stress or Anxiety
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
  • Chronic Constipation

3. Receive Bladder Control Products Through Aeroflow Urology

We understand that purchasing diapers and pull-ups for your child can be costly, and it can also be difficult to find sizing for older children. Aeroflow Urology can provide bladder control supplies for your child at no cost through their Medicaid plan. We offer a variety of different sizes of pull-ups and diapers for children of all ages. Simply fill out our quick, 2-step form to check your eligibility for coverage, and one of our Continence Care Specialists will contact you in 1-2 business days with an update on your coverage options.

4. Fluid Restriction

Another common tactic that many parents try with their children when dealing with bedwetting is to restrict fluid consumption throughout the day. While it may be a good practice to restrict fluids a few hours before bed time, it is crucial for your child to stay hydrated throughout the day. It may seem that fewer fluids will lead to fewer accidents. However, this can cause your child to become dehydrated, and this also trains the bladder to function with very little fluid. Children that experience nocturnal enuresis will continue to have accidents regardless of the amount of fluid in their system. Try to shift fluid intake, so your child is drinking most of their day’s fluids in the morning and early afternoon.

It may be beneficial to restrict beverages with caffeine or sugar, as they can irritate the bladder and cause an increase in urine loss. Other bladder irritants to consider, in both foods and drinks, are citrus fruits, spicy foods, carbonated beverages, chocolate, certain food dyes (red, purple, and blue), and dairy products. Try to limit all of these after lunch.

5. Try to Avoid Comparison

It can be easy to make comparisons to a friend, sibling, or favorite cartoon character to motivate your child to overcome their enuresis. Saying things such as, “I bet Spider-Man doesn’t wet the bed” may seem helpful, but statements such as these, especially when followed by an accident, can do more harm than good. Comparisons such as these can cause your child to quickly feel inadequate and hurt their self-esteem.

Helping Your Child Cope with Bedwetting

Remember, the most important way to support your child is to approach them with reassurance and understanding. This can help motivate them to start sleeping through the night accident-free. Even if most children grow out of nocturnal enuresis on their own, don’t hesitate to take them to their healthcare provider if their symptoms indicate that something more serious is occurring. With encouragement and support from their family, your child will be able to overcome their nocturnal enuresis.

Dr. Samantha Eaker

Samantha Eaker, DNP, CPNP-PC is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner specializing in pediatric urology. She is a Medical Advisor and Author for Aeroflow Urology. Dr. Eaker received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Georgetown University and her Doctor of Nursing Practice from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She currently practices in North Carolina, serving children and adults with congenital and acquired urologic problems. She is passionate about providing personalized care to and advocating for her patients. Primary care trained, Dr. Eaker enjoys the continuity of care that pediatric urology provides. When not in the clinic, she is most likely to be found traveling with her husband, playing with their Great Dane, or staying active on the Peloton and throughout local state parks.

Information provided on the Aeroflow Urology blog is not intended as a substitute to medical advice or care from a healthcare professional. Aeroflow recommends consulting your healthcare provider if you are experiencing medical issues relating to incontinence.