10 things you need to know about enuresis (bedwetting)

It's easy to get swamped with advice about bedwetting. Here's your need-to-know guide.

4 min read

10 things you need to know about enuresis (bedwetting)

It's easy to get swamped with advice about bedwetting. Here's your need-to-know guide.

4 min read

Bedwetting advice for parents

Bedwetting can be upsetting and confusing for a child – and not much fun for parents either. We did the research and found 10 things worth knowing to help you understand and support your child.

1. What is ‘enuresis’?

It’s not a term you hear much in everyday speech, but doctors and experts may describe bedwetting as ‘enuresis’ or more specifically ‘nocturnal enuresis’. This includes primary enuresis, which refers to children who have always wet the bed, as well as secondary enuresis, which is when a child over the age of five who has been dry for six months or more starts wetting the bed again.

2. Bedwetting can happen at any age

Be assured that bedwetting is very common and affects over 25% of five-year-olds and around 9% of ten-year-olds. Sometimes it is a constant, other times children who have been dry for months or years can start wetting the bed again seemingly out of the blue. It’s not unusual for bedwetting to start or make an unwelcome comeback at puberty, with around one in 75 teenagers affected. One mum we spoke to thought her teenage son would wet his bed forever.

3. Bedwetting isn’t your child’s fault

Always remember your child is not being lazy or naughty by wetting the bed. With an understanding of the causes of bedwetting, and possible solutions, you’ll be able to support them without judgement.

4. There are many causes of bedwetting

It’s generally agreed that bedwetting can be caused by a number of developmental, medical or emotional factors, such as stress and anxiety. There’s some evidence that it runs in families – if one or both parents experienced it, then the likelihood increases that their child will too. But it can also just be one of those things.

5. Brain and bladder are on different wavelengths

While we’re asleep, our bladder sends signals to our brain telling it when it’s full. This is how we know to “hold on” and wake up to go to the loo. Some children haven’t formed this connection yet, so their brain doesn’t pick up the signals. This is something that often resolves with age.

6. The bladder needs exercise

Just like any other muscle, the bladder needs to be exercised to keep it in tip-top condition. Drinking enough water throughout the day is essential in making sure the bladder is able to reach its full capacity.

7. Constipation is often a trigger

Being backed up can be a factor in bedwetting episodes in some children. This is because the constipated bowel squeezes the bladder and causes it to empty before it is full. If your child is constipated, address this and it should help with bedwetting.

8. Bedwetting can be a sign of infection or medical condition

According to the NHS, a urine infection can cause bedwetting, as can an underlying medical condition such as diabetes. Talk to your healthcare provider if you suspect your child may be affected.

9. Help is out there

NICE guidelines on bedwetting in under-19s suggest all children who wet the bed should be seen by a health professional from the age of five. Don’t be afraid to take a trip to the doctor as there are treatments available.

There are also charities you can turn to for help:

  • ERIC is the Children’s Bowel & Bladder charity and offers resources for young children, teens and their families dealing with bedwetting issues.
  • Bladder & Bowel UK also offers resources to help your child with enuresis.

10. Products can take away anxiety

We all want worry-free bedtimes. Using Huggies® DryNites® Pyjama Pants and Huggies® DryNites® Bed Mats can help reduce your child’s anxiety. In a survey, 80% of parents agreed that Huggies DryNites® Pyjama Pants helps their children sleep better. Happy kids, happy days.

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