Side-step the myths and get all the facts on your journey to dry nights
If your child is currently going through a bedwetting stage, you’ve most likely been searching high and low for information about how to manage and move on from this trying time. Amongst all the studies, blogs, and articles available, it can be difficult (and time-consuming) to separate fact from fiction.
If you’re raising young children, chances are you’ve been given your fair share of bedwetting advice. Many of these may be genuine; passed on by well-meaning friends, relatives, or the internet; but how many are untrue?
We’ve separated the bedwetting myths and facts below to help you and your child understand this very common phase and work through it together
Bedwetting myths debunked.
When it comes to bedwetting, there is a lot of misinformation circulating both online and offline. Today we’ll debunk some of the most common bedwetting myths out there.
Myth number one: Waking your child in the middle of the night for a bathroom visit will cure bedwetting.
While this tactic, often referred to as ‘lifting’, might save you some loads of washing, it’s not going to help your child develop faster or help them to earn to wake up on their own. If your child is older than five this could even cause them to feel a loss of independence.
Myth number two: The cause of bedwetting is drinking too much before bed. Drinking a litre of soft drink before bed certainly doesn’t help, but it’s not going to cause bedwetting either. A child who doesn’t wet the bed will simply wake up and use the bathroom. Having said this, it can help to limit your child’s intake of sugary or caffeinated drinks after dinner time.
Myth number three: Using absorbent products, such as DryNites® Pyjama Pants, enables bedwetting. Some believe that using DryNites® or bed mats is unhelpful, as your child will never learn to wake up for the bathroom. But as we’ve learned already, your child is not in control of waking themselves up while in their bedwetting phase. DryNites® provide a comfortable safety net for your child so they can sleep easy. They can also help boost confidence, and give some independence back to your child – particularly if they’re going to a sleepover.
Myth number four: When your child wets the bed it’s because they’re too lazy to get to the bathroom. This is 100% false. it could be harmful if you start to blame your child for their bedwetting. There are a number of bedwetting causes, including delay in bladder development and capacity, but laziness is not one of them.
Myth number five: Children who wet the bed respond will to punishment and rewards. Remember myth number one: laziness is not the cause of bedwetting. Punishment or even nice rewards are not going to motivate your child to stay dry overnight, as it’s completely out of their control. Reward systems tend to work well for day time toilet training, but overnight is a completely different ball game.
A child who doesn’t wet the bed will not suddenly start wetting the bed if they’ve had too much to drink – they’ll simply wake up and use the bathroom.
Limiting your child’s intake of sugary or caffeinated drinks a couple of hours before bed is recommended, as they certainly don’t help stop bedwetting. However, always allow water, as being dehydrated can actually make things worse.
It is a common thought that using an absorbent product at night will hinder your child’s progress, as they will never recognise when they need to wake up if they always remain dry. This thought is entirely unproven. While these products are certainly not a cure for bedwetting, they are useful tools for managing it.
Bedwetting products, such as DryNites Pyjama Pants or bed mats, have been shown to to improve sleep quality, boost confidence and reduce stress (which can actually be a causational factor in bedwetting), as it makes wetting the bed less of a big deal. Absorbent pyjama pants will also give your child some control over the situation, especially if they have reached sleepover age.
If your child wets the bed it doesn’t mean that they haven’t been properly toilet trained. Urine control during the day is completely different to what goes on when your child is sleeping. In most cases it will right itself in time and is nothing to worry about.
Never blame yourself or think that you didn’t finish the job properly when you were taking them through the toilet training phase. Your child could be a star bathroom-goer while they’re awake, but it is nobody’s fault if they wet the bed while they’re asleep.
While the vast majority of kids have stopped wetting the bed by the time they start school, it is by no means unusual. In fact, bedwetting is prevalent in up to 20% of five year olds and up to 10% of 7 year olds. By age 12 around 97% of children have stopped wetting the bed.
This is completely untrue and, if believed, could lead parents to blame their child for wetting the bed, which will only exacerbate the problem. There are a number of reasons why your child may be wetting the bed. These are the most common:
Remember that your child has no control over the situation and probably feels bad enough about it as it is. Being punished for something they can’t help will only cause self-esteem to decrease and stress to increase.
Many parents go the opposite way and try star charts or reward systems for dry nights, however, this can be equally harmful if they fail to achieve. Feel free to try it, but be ready to stop if you find that it’s not making a difference to their progress.
Drug therapy for bedwetting can be a good stopgap for sleepovers and school camps, but is rarely a cure.
Studies comparing its effectiveness with bedwetting alarms show around 70% of children start wetting the bed again once they stop taking medication.
There are some common causes of bedwetting, such as a delay in bladder development or under-production of anti-diuretic hormone, however, not all cases are the same and causes can vary.
In some children, stress, grief, or other emotional problems can play a role. Please view our page on bedwetting causes for more information.
It’s true that your child will likely be one of the 97% who stops bedwetting by the age of 12. However, this is a time when your child needs your support and advice, so it’s important to help them understand that it’s not their fault and come up with a management plan together, rather than ignore the problem.
The other side to this is that your child’s bedwetting may be due to a medical condition (such as a urinary tract infection or diabetes) or an emotional issue, which is common in cases of secondary enuresis (where the child was dry at night for six months or more and has now started wetting the bed again).
There is no evidence suggesting that primary bedwetting has anything to do with psychological issues.
It is true that if your child begins wetting the bed after a period of six months or more of being dry at night, it could be due to stress or an emotional issue, such as grief. You should talk to your child about what’s on their mind and flag the issue with your GP if this is the case.
Bladder control exercises, otherwise known as ‘holding it in’ can be a good way to increase bladder capacity and is a much cited tactic for bedwetting treatment. It usually works by asking your child to just hold on for ten or fifteen minutes after their first urge to urinate.
While these exercises do increase bladder capacity and are certainly not considered harmful, they have not been proven to stop bedwetting.
It is common practice for parents to wake their children in the middle of the night and encourage them to use the bathroom in an effort to prevent bedwetting. This is often referred to as ‘lifting’ and can seem like a good strategy if it helps keep the sheets dry.
The reality is that this will not improve your child’s bladder control and could frustrate them, especially if they don’t need to urinate when you wake them. If your child is over five years old it may also cause them to feel as though they have little control over the situation.
Now that you have the facts straight, you may want to check out the most common bedwetting myths!