bed wetting

There are several different reasons children struggle with bedwetting past the age of 4. It’s normal for a child to be unable to hold their bladder all night up to age 4 and sometimes even up to age 7. However after age 7 its considered diagnosable (nocturnal enuresis). If child was nighttime trained and then regressed it could also be a diagnosable problem. See reasons below.

Note: If children are wetting during the daytime past the potty training stage, that is likely a medical problem or trauma related. Seek a doctor’s recommendation.

1)     Medical/Health problem

The child could have a bladder problem, Urinary tract infection (UTI), immature bladder (not ready to be able to hold it all night), some other health issue. It could be genetic too.

Solution: To rule this out see your child’s pediatrician and/or an urologist.

2)     Heavy sleeper

Some kids sleep too heavily at night and are unaware when their bodies need to go. Their body doesn’t automatically wake them up at night to go. 

Solution: Limit fluids a few hours before bedtime, wake them during the night to use the bathroom, try a ‘Bell Pad technique’ device that vibrates or rings when child starts to wet and it wakes them to finish peeing in the bathroom. Try a reward system for a dry bed. If these don’t work there are medications that can help. See urologist for options.

3)     Trauma

If a child has been through a traumatic experience, especially sexual abuse, it can cause bedwetting. The child may be sleeping fitfully, having nightmares, or their body is unconsciously trying to fend off people by wetting self to push people away.

Solution: Seek a child therapist. If you’re not sure if your child has been through a trauma or been abused but you see some signs, have them evaluated by a doctor or therapist.

4)     Behavioral

If the child is refusing to get up during the night or wetting the bed in the morning, it could be because they are lazy and don’t want to get out of bed to use the bathroom. If the other reasons above have been ruled out this might be the problem.

Solution: Provide reward/sticker chart for using bathroom and dry bed. Have child strip sheets off bed and wash them themselves or bring to laundry area for parents. Have child make their own bed with clean sheets (or help make the bed). Have child wash their body themselves in the morning. If problem continues see a therapist. 

Sleep problems

cant sleep child

Sleep Strategies~ when your child has trouble sleeping~ Patience Domowski, LCSW

Falling asleep/bedtime routine

·         Turn off screens at least half hour before bed [Don’t let kids keep their ipads and phones in their rooms at night. Parents can charge them in their own bedroom or elsewhere in the house.]

·         Use a bedtime routine including reading books before bed. Sometimes a calming bath is helpful.

·         Sleepytime tea or warm milk can help

·         Listening to music while falling asleep can be helpful for some kids (check with your child if they think this would be helpful or too distracting)

·         Noise machine // fan// sound machine

·         Melatonin (natural vitamin that helps you fall/stay asleep) can buy over the counter at pharmacy

·         Progressive muscle relaxation (can find many scripts for this online)

·         Remind yourself everything will be okay

·         For racing thoughts: write down what need to do tomorrow// or what you’re thinking about to get it out of your head

·         Talk to doctor about medication if necessary

For nightmares:

·         Think happy thoughts / make a “happy things to think about before bed” Sweet Dreams box and have your child draw pictures of things he likes and pick out what he wants to dream about before bed

·         Use a Dream Catcher (can make one easily- look online for craft ideas)

·          Prayers

·         Assure them they will be okay

·         Watch a funny show or funny podcast before bed so thinking happy thoughts

Won’t sleep on their own

·         Parent stay with child until they fall asleep in their own room

·         Let child sleep on floor in parents room getting closer to door until can be in their own room

·         Let pets sleep with child or share bedroom with sibling

·         Give reward in morningif child stays in room all night or falls asleep on their own