What is bedwetting?
We speak of bedwetting when a child five years or older pee in bed more than twice a month. Bedwetting is very common. At the age of five, one in six children pee in bed. Bedwetting is no different up to the age of five. Boys suffer from it twice as often as girls. Bedwetting is virtually non-existent in adulthood.
A child suffers from bed wetting if he is still regularly wet at night and has wet his bed. Wetting the bed can cause a child to have less confidence. This allows him to behave nervous and / or difficult. It is not uncommon for conflicts within the family to arise as a result. The child’s negative behavior is sometimes strengthened if the environment reacts negatively to bedwetting. For example, if the child is being bullied by his classmates or friends, or if parents openly reject bedwetting.
When a child has only a few urine stains in the underwear, this is not called bedwetting, but incontinence .
How does bedwetting occur?
Halfway through the second year a child is able to recognize the signal of a full bladder. He can now also stop the pee and postpone peeing until he is sitting in the pot or the toilet. Usually a child learns to be house-trained first during the day. Only then does he learn to stay dry at night.
In their third year of life, most children are house-trained during the day and at night. However, this differs from child to child: one child is early, the other late. Bedwetting up to and including the fifth year of life is no different.
When a child from the age of five is still peeing in bed, there is usually no clear cause to indicate bedwetting. The following factors can play a role in this:
- bedwetting is often in the family. In more than half of the cases, one of the parents also urinated in bed for a long time as a child
- too early and too strict toilet training can contribute to longer bedwetting
- Tensions often affect bedwetting. It is known that children who have been dry for some time sometimes pee in bed again in periods with tensions. For example if they have a new brother or sister, around Sinterklaas, with family problems or with divorce from parents
- some children are late bloomers. They are only later than other children able to learn toilet training
- constipation in children appears to have an impact on the (continued) existence of bedwetting. You can read more about this in the information brochure ‘Constipation / obstruction in children’
Some people think that “too small a bladder”, “too tight sleeping” or “too busy a child” may explain bedwetting. However, these causes have never been proven. Some parents sometimes think that children pee in bed to bother them. However, this is untrue: a child is almost always ashamed of bedwetting. It is important for people to know that bedwetting is not an attraction.
Is it serious and what can you expect?
Bedwetting is very annoying for both the child and the parents. Bedwetting does not point in the direction of a deviation of the bladder or kidneys. It almost always passes by itself. Of all bedwetting children from 6 to 10 years old, 15 percent get rid of it without treatment.
When to the doctor?
If a child of five years or older pees in bed and is not toilet-trained during the day, it is advisable that you consult your doctor.
Contact with the doctor is also advisable if bedwetting is associated with one or more of the following symptoms:
- urinate abnormally
- pee a interrupted or weak beam
- your child has had cystitis in his first five years of life
If you cannot find the advice below, or if your child has other complaints that you are concerned about, you can always contact your doctor. The doctor may in some cases find it useful to prescribe medication that ensures that less urine is produced.
What can you do about it yourself?
With the help of the following advice you can help your child to become house trained.
Providing clarity Tell your child clearly that the intention is to keep his bed dry. Some parents soon think that their child knows this. It often turns out that this is not at all clear to the child. Giving clarity also means that it is best to be consistent. Once you have started with a certain approach, it is important that you maintain this.
Paying Positive Attention It is important to encourage the desired behavior of your child. After all, becoming dry is an achievement and deserves a reward. The calendar method (which will be described later) is extremely suitable for this. If your child ever pees in bed, this is no problem. That is why it is better not to punish your child. Try to prevent him from feeling rewarded when he has wet his bed. The best you can say is that it is not bad, but it is unfortunate that it has not yet been successful.
Giving Responsibility The point is that the child becomes dry, not the parents. It is important that the child bears as much responsibility as possible for the consequences of bedwetting. This means, depending on his age, that the child picks up a clean pajama, changes the bed himself and / or collects the dirty laundry.
Adjust drinking pattern
- caffeine-containing drinks (cola, chocolate milk, tea, coffee) are not recommended for drinking in the evening due to the urine production stimulating effect
- it is best for your child to drink more than enough during the day (about one and a half liters).
- drinking is allowed in the evening. It makes no sense to prohibit bedwetting children from having a drink in the evening. It has no effect on whether or not to stay dry at night.
Not wearing a diaper A child five years or older should not wear diapers anymore. The child with a diaper will then experience bedwetting as a matter of course. On the contrary, he can become more aware of urinating.
Preventing constipation It is advisable to agree with your child that he / she regularly goes to the toilet to defecate. Blockage can help children to pee in bed at night. You can read more about this subject in the information brochure ‘Constipation / obstruction in children’.
Apply the method of bedwetting
There are several methods that can help your child stay dry at night. It is advisable to choose one of the methods below and to implement it consistently.
- Recording method : recording is a commonly used method that can ensure that a child sleeps dry. Hereby you agree in advance with your child that you wake him / her to pee. Make sure your child wakes up properly, otherwise it will actually teach you to urinate while sleeping. Read the instructions
- Story method : telling stories before bedtime is a good method for anxious and insecure children. Reading out is best done daily and exclusively for the bedwetting child. Fairy tales and stories may be repeated endlessly, even preferably. Children can finish the stories themselves. You do not speak to your child about becoming dry. The method should be continued for up to eight weeks. Read the instructions
- Calendar method : the calendar method accurately records how often a child is dry at night. With the calendar method you only count the dry nights. You can note this on a cheerful calendar or on a nice large sheet. Every dry night gets a sticker, a sun or a nice drawing. Read the instructions
- Motivation method: with this method you stimulate the child by giving him a reward when it is dry. Preferably opt for small or non-material rewards (see instruction). Make sure you keep enough rewards in reserve. This motivation method can be linked to the calendar method. A reward follows an x number of dry nights registered on the calendar. Read the instructions
- Bladder training : by learning to hold the pee longer during the day, the child can also stay dry longer at night. Bladder training is recommended for children who have to urinate and who urinate more than eight times during the day. Read the instructions
- Wake-up training : a bedwetting alarm teaches the child to wake up to the feeling of a full bladder. It is an effective and safe form of treatment. Bedwetting alarms are for sale and for rent. They are accompanied by an extensive instruction. However, research has shown that good supervision increases the chance of success. The home care organization has specialized nurses who can advise you. Urinary alarms for wake-up training can also be rented via home care. Read the instructions
If it is not possible to solve bed wetting with these measures, there are other ways to get dry. If desired, your doctor can help you with this.
Instructions for preventing bed wetting
Recording method: from 5 years
- Arrange with your child in advance that you will wake him / her up
- If possible, agree on a password
- Wake up your child at the set time and say that it was the appointment
- Call your child’s name, turn on the light
- Let your child walk to the toilet to do a pee
- Keep talking to your child to keep him / her awake until he has urinated
- Put your child back to sleep peacefully
Story method: 5-11 years
- Read a story every day for eight weeks
- Exclusive for the bedwetting child
- Stories can be repeated endlessly
- The child can complete the stories himself
With the story below, experience was gained with bedwetting children. Baby bird lived with his parents in a nest, high in a tree. One day, when father and mother bird were away looking for food, Baby Bird was playing so wildly that he fell out of the nest. He fell all the way down from the top of the tree to the ground and then cried very hard in pain. When he was lying on the ground at the foot of the tree and crying and sobbing, a little boy (or girl) came by and saw him lying there. The boy (or girl) picked up Baby Bird, looked up and saw the nest there and put Baby Bird back in the nest. The father and mother bird still found Babyvogel crying and sobbing when they returned from seeking food. But they thought he was hungry and put some worms in his beak.
Baby bird grew bigger and bigger, and one day it was time to learn how to fly. Mother and father bird showed him how to fly, and went from branch to branch. Then they told Babyvogel to try it for themselves. But Babyvogel shouted: “NO!” The parents tried again another day and another day, but Babyvogel kept saying, “NO!” Then they gave up and said, “Okay, you stay but sitting in the nest, we will come and bring you food every day ”. And so it went on all summer. Baby bird remained on the nest and his father and mother brought him food.
Baby bird grew fatter and fatter from all that food. After the summer it became autumn and became colder. All the birds were getting ready to fly south. Because when it gets winter and it starts snowing, the birds fly south, where it is nice and warm. The father and mother of Babyvogel told him that he really had to learn how to fly, because you only get to the south by flying. And if he did not fly south, he would die from the cold or perish from hunger because no one would bring him food. But Babyvogel always said “NO!”. He didn’t want to learn to fly.
It became colder and colder and colder. And Babyvogel still didn’t want to learn to fly. Then his father and mother said: “If you do not want to learn to fly, we will go south without you, because we do not want to freeze to death or die because there is no food left.” Babybird did not believe that and so his father and mother finally flew south without him. For a long time, Babyvogel thought they had just flown away to get food. But when they had not returned after two days, he was sure they had told him the truth.
And it was still getting colder and colder. Baby bird started to dance and jump and flutter its wings in its nest, just to keep warm. But he had grown so terribly big that the nest started to crack … and broke! Baby bird fell down through the bottom of the nest. And when he fell and fell and fell, he spread his wings and fluttered up and down with it a few times… and so he finally learned ……… FLYING!
Now that baby bird could fly, he flew south with the last group of birds to go find his father and mother. And he found them! His father and mother were overjoyed to have Babyvogel with him forever.
Calendar method 5-8 years
- Use a regular day calendar, or design a fun calendar with your child
- Take a fixed moment to note with your child what happened at night;
- For example, draw a sun for a dry night or use a nice sticker
- Keep the calendar with a pencil in a fixed place, in consultation with your child
- Determine the reward in advance. Keep the reward small and keep it. Do not use penalty points if your child is wet
- Only the dry nights, even if they are not consecutive, count
- Gradually increase the points required for the reward
Motivation method: from 5 to 12 years Example rewards (motivators):
- extra attention / hugging / sitting on your lap;
- many compliments;
- stay up a little longer;
- to choose what is eaten that day;
- let dessert choose;
- baking cake together or alone;
- play a game together;
- stay overnight;
- ask a friend to stay over;
- breakfast on bed;
- eat pan cakes;
- extra reading;
- to the playground / zoo;
- only with mom / dad off;
- extra tv program,
Bladder training: from 5 to 13 years
- During the day you give your child 2 large cups of water to drink in a short time. On the toilet your child tries to postpone the pee, for example by quietly counting to 10.
- Note the time between drinking and peeing.
- Repeat the procedure the following days and let your child try to delay the pee longer and longer.
- You can also arrange with your child to pee in a measuring bottle once a day. The next day your child should try to urinate more than the last time. If this succeeds, the child gets a point. If your child has 10 points, he or she will receive a previously agreed reward.
Wake-up training: from 5 years old If your child is old enough and motivated, you can apply the wake-up training. This requires a bedwetting alarm. After the installation of the bedwetting alarm you give the following instruction to your child.
This bedwetting alarm will help you to become dry. If you accidentally pee in bed at night, this alarm clock will alert you. You can see that the alarm clock is connected to these pants. If there is some urine on the pants, he will inform the alarm clock, who warns you to stop urinating. So when you are asleep and you hear the alarm ring, you know you’re peeing. If that happens you first have to switch off the alarm, take off the pants and continue to pee on the toilet.
Then you go back to bed, put on dry pants, turn on the alarm again, and continue to sleep. If necessary, I (mother or father) can change the bed for a while. If you do that you will immediately get a sticker. If I haven’t woken up, you can wake me up for a moment so that I can give the sticker. Has the alarm clock ‘ not ringing once at night, then you have been out or you have stopped the pee. You will immediately receive two stickers in the morning. But if the alarm clock rings and you do not get out within three minutes to continue peeing on the toilet, you must immediately return a sticker. So if I have to switch off the alarm after three minutes it will cost you a sticker.