Friday, July 06, 2012

Blog Question: Bed Wetting

My two little men right after they moved into their "big boy beds" back in the fall of 2010.
Do you have any suggestions on stopping bed wetting? How did Elijah's resolve? Did you intervene in some way? Thanks!
I received this question after Elijah started wetting his bed during our move to the Azores. I had heard from many mothers about "regression" in their children during a move. It seemed so strange to me that a child could pick up on stress in a household and deal with it through a physical action like bed wetting.
But then I saw it for myself

The World Health Organization defines nocturnal enuresis (bed wetting) as wetting twice per month (under 7 years) or once per month (over 7 years). Primary nocturnal enuresis is defined as bedwetting in an individual who has never been dry for six consecutive months. Secondary nocturnal enuresis is defined as bedwetting in an individual who was dry for six consecutive months and then started wetting again.

Although children may develop secondary enuresis after an episode of emotional stress, psychological problems do not cause primary nocturnal enuresis. Examples of stressful situations that can trigger bedwetting include:
  • Change in the child-care routine—for example, a new sitter, or starting a child-care or preschool program
  • The mother’s pregnancy or the birth of a new sibling
  • A major illness on the part of the child or a family member
  • A recent death
  • Marital conflict or parents’ divorce
  • An upcoming or recent move to a new house

The wetting usually resolves when the stress passes.
Go figure! This is exactly what happened with Elijah. He potty-trained very young. It was back in February of 2011. Elijah was just two. Isaac was a few months away from three. They both caught on quickly, and while number two look longer to perfect, they were basically potty-trained from that moment out. However, Elijah did wear a pull-up to bed for quite awhile. He would be three when he finally started sleeping through the night dry.

Fast forward now to more than a year later. We are in the midst of our move. Our stuff has gone. The house is feeling empty. It has been at least six months since Elijah has worn a dipaer or wet the diaper, so you can imagine our surprise when we go into check on him before bed and he is soaked. The next night it is the same. In fact, he is wetting the bed more nights than he is staying dry.

So what did we do? In our case, we:
  • tried to prevent the wetting by getting him up frequently to go to the bathroom. We'd take him to go as we went to bed a few hours after he went down.
  • kept a pad of paper and pen outside his room. Whenever one of us woke up for another reason (Abigail, Isaac, Scrubs, or potty ourselves), we'd take him again and leave the time. That way we didn't get up within an hour of each other.
  • tried to be even more aware of what he was drinking close to bed or nap times.
  • asked him one evening if he wanted to wear a diaper. He said yes. We would not have made him if he didn't want to, but he made the decision. He only wanted to do it one time (and that night he was dry -- of course.)
And then it stopped. No sooner had we settled in, that he didn't do it again. It's amazing how a child's body reacts to stress. You have to wonder how a grown-ups body handles the stress if something like moving effects a child like that.

Outside of a stressful reason for nighttime wettings, we simply did not worry about our children wetting at night. We basically did the same types of things. For instance we:
  • put them in a pull-up (or put extra padding down on the bed if it happened rarely) and just let them grow out of it themselves
  • didn't get upset or make them feel guilty about the accidents.
  • tried to limit water for approximately two hours before bed.
  • would get them up to go during the night or right before we went to bed.
Wondering how my readers have handled bedtime accidents? Any advice that I didn't come up with?


Marie said...

Thanks for the tips! I am glad to hear that he seems to have settled into his new place ok.

Did you stop waking them to take him to the bathroom once they are consistently dry all night, or do you continue to do that? Or do they get up and go on their own?

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Marie, great question. Once they are dry most nights, we stop doing the pad and paper first and keep the before-bed wakening. We then start trying to skip that and see how it goes.

My boys got up on their own, which in the beginning, was quite exhausting because each of them would get up 2-3 times a night and times two that was a lot of getting up. We worked with themon how to go on their own, and now, if they need to go, they go on their own.

Each kid is different on this though. Some sleep harder. Personally, I would worry too much about using the pull-ups. I'd just keep using pull-ups or diapers until they are mostly dry. And then you can start experimenting with them not wearing them.

We didn't really worry AT ALL about overnight potty training for about a year. Isaac got it a lot faster but I think that was because he was older.

Anonymous said...

Although nocturnal enuresis is multifactorial, and it definitely takes some time for bladder capacity to grow in children, and yes secondary wetting can be tied to stress - the most commonly missed cause of childhood toileting problems is accumulated rectal stool from withholding bowel movements. I'm trying to get the word out about this because it is almost universally ignored and children suffer needless tests and ineffective therapies as a result. You can do pumbed searches for the scientific studies using the keywords "constipation" , enuresis, O'Regan, and/or Hodges - or google searches with the same.

Health literacy said...

Most doctors consider a bedwetting child to be any girl older than age four and any boy over age five who wet the bed. Bedwetting generally declines with age.

Anonymous said...

Here's a great website for info on conquering bedwetting

sax player said...

I wish they would have had these products when I was growing up. My brother and I stopped bedwetting when we were 9-10.

Alex Neil said...

Bedwetting is the loss of bladder control during the night. The medical term for bedwetting is nocturnal enuresis or enuresis. Bedwetting can be an embarrassing issue, but in many cases, it is perfectly normal.

Anonymous said...

I used to be a bedwetter when I was a kid. Far past the age of a normal bedwetter. But I was also scared to poop because I thought it hurt. I was a "skid mark" kid I was was so scared to poop. In retrospect I think this is why I peed the bed. My bowels were so full is pushed on my bladder when I slept I think. If your kid is a bedwetter make sure they are pooping when they should.

Steve Berke said...

I enjoyed reading your article. Please make more interesting topics like this on.
I'll come back for more :)

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