Bed-wetting is that moment when innocence translates into embarrassment. But that is for kids. As one grows up, the realisation that controlling the bladder in the dead of the night is a “task that keeps meeting dreams” becomes too daunting. One begins to feel fidgety about going to bed because of the fear of what could happen.
And, as the situations “keeps getting out of control” despair is wont to set in. It is worse for children, as they tend to think that they are alone in the soggy nocturnal life.
For the most unfortunate ones, this could end up going on well into their teens. Of course, there are adults who wet beds… with serious effect on their relationship or marriage.
Sadly, many of people who wet beds do not know what makes them fail to control the bladder in their sleep. And those around them are either puzzled or ignore it and wait for the ‘habit’ to go.
There are many parents out there who are so stranded on why their children bed wet. But bed-wetting, also known as nighttime incontinence or nocturnal enuresis, does not mean your child is too lazy to get up and go to the loo or that they are too stubborn and immature.
Generally, bed-wetting before age six or seven is not cause for concern, according to Mayo Clinic. At this age, your child may still be developing nighttime bladder control.
Wet beds leave bad feelings all around. Frustrated parents sometimes conclude a child is wetting the bed out of laziness. Kids worry there is something wrong with them, especially when teasing siblings chime in. Fear of wetting the bed at a friend’s sleepover can create social awkwardness.
For some, bed-wetting may be an inevitable part of growing up, but it doesn’t have to be traumatic. Understanding bed-wetting’s causes is the first step to dealing with this common childhood problem.
However, if bed-wetting continues, treat the problem with patience and understanding. Bladder training, moisture alarms or medication may help reduce bed-wetting.
Although there is no single definite cause for bed-wetting, most scientists agree that it has a lot to do with our genes. If both parents wet their beds after the age of six, their child has about a 75 per cent chance of doing the same; if only one parent wets the bed, the child has a 44 per cent chance, according to WebMD, a health web site.
Some parents are reluctant about this issue and think that the child will stop wetting the bed by him. Others even punish their children for wetting the bed only to be disappointed when the habit is just worsening.
The majority of bed-wetting is inherited, says the web site. For three out of four kids, either a parent or a first-degree relative also wet the bed in childhood.
Dealing with it
There are some ways you can help your child who wets bed not feel a deep sense of shame and embarrassment about their problem, which can contribute to low self-esteem, according to Mayo Clinic.
Discuss bed-wetting with your child’s pediatrician. Many children wet the bed until they’re about six years old and then stop, with no need to seek medical treatment. But if your child is older than six or if the bed-wetting problem is causing you or your child concern, it is a good idea to visit your pediatrician. The doctor can do a series of tests to rule out abnormalities that might be causing the problem, and help put your child’s mind at ease about bed-wetting.
You and your child can discuss that you are going to address bed-wetting.
Tell your child bed-wetting is common. Bed-wetting is not something kids talk about with each other, so your child might feel like they are in their age group who still wets the bed. Tell them that millions of children, and teenagers, too, regularly wet their beds.
Betty Mukakimenyi says that her 13-year-old son still wets his bed and it is quite a trying moment when he has to take his mattress out to dry in the sun when his friends are seeing.
“My son was fully potty-trained from the age of five but he keeps wetting the bed at night, so now what I have been doing is not letting him drink anything at night,” she adds.
“Before he would take juice at night but not anymore and about an hour after he goes to sleep, I wake him up and make him ease himself.”
But what ‘experts’ argue that it is not good to use certain ‘stringent’ methods to stop a child from bed-wetting. For instance, taking enough fluids is healthy, so stopping a child from taking water or juice at night would tantamount to denying them other health benefits of fluids.
To this effect, some argue, it would be better to let the child learn from their mistake.
Rose Baziizane, a mother of four, recommends limiting drinks after dinner; children should take their evening tea before 6:30pm, she says.
“You can also ask them to go for a short call before going to bed,” she adds.
Baziizane says parents should explain to children that it is okay to wake up in the night to go to the bathroom.
“You can also leave a light on in there; you know children fear darkness so they might hesitant to leave and answer the call of nature until they find themselves wet,” she says.
“To make it easier for my children, I used an old idea of putting a bucket in their bedroom. But being modern times you can consider stationing a potty and also keep the light on in your child’s bedroom.”
Maureen Maliza, a mother of three and a teacher at ESSA Nyarugunga, says it is a bad idea to punish children for bed-wetting.
“Never push them too hard, shame them, or make them sleep in a soggy bed,” Maliza says, adding that it is not fair to make children feel bad about something they cannot actually control.
Night time dryness is a tricky skill for a child to master, since it depends on his body being able to hold urine for an extended period of time.
“One of my sons was a deep sleeper and the process was even more difficult to help him stop than his sister’s because he had not yet learned to wake himself up and head for the potty when his bladder felt full,” she says.
Hope Muholakyeye says helping a child learn to control the bladder should start early by retiring the diaper when the child is still young.
Dinner, nighttime snacks that can trigger wet nights
If you have a child who wets the bed, you have probably heard lots of rumors about nutritional bed-wetting solutions.
Limit liquids after 6pm, avoid orange juice, steer clear of spicy food...
In an effort to put an end to your child’s bed-wetting problem, you might be tempted to try them all. But before you do, keep in mind that making unnecessary dietary changes that don’t work in an attempt to stop bed-wetting could make you and your child even more unhappy and upset than you are now.
Spicy foods and bed-wetting: Myth
Has taco night become a thing of the past at your house since you heard that spicy foods might trigger bedwetting? If so, it’s time to break out the salsa and grab some guacamole – experts say there is no evidence spicy foods trigger nocturnal enuresis.
The myth stems from the fact that spicy foods are known to irritate the bladder in some people and doctors may recommend that people with urinary incontinence avoid them. But research is yet to find a connection between the consumption of spicy foods and bed-wetting.
Citrus and bed-wetting: Myth
Like spicy foods, citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and limes can be bladder irritants, owing to their acidity. So you might think you are doing your child a favour by taking orange juice and lemonade off the table.
But, as is the case with hot and spicy foods, medical research has not demonstrated a link between eating citrus fruits and children’s bed-wetting, except possibly in rare instances of food allergy to citrus in some bed-wetters.
Food allergens and bed-wetting: The jury’s still out
The evidence for a connection between food allergies and bedwetting is very weak. A single study of 21 children published in 1992 did support a connection at least in some children, but it’s likely that in the vast majority of children allergy doesn’t play any role.
Caffeine and bed-wetting: Fact
Caffeine, whether in food or drink, acts as a diuretic, meaning that it stimulates the bladder to produce more urine. So, one bed-wetting solution that many experts recommend is to avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening. Teas, colas, and energy drinks often contain caffeine. Chocolate, also contains a chemical closely related to caffeine. So you might want to be cautious about hot chocolate and desserts such as brownies or chocolate ice cream. No need to ban these foods, just ensure they’re enjoyed earlier in the day.