Enuresis: how to help your child stop “wetting the bed”

Nocturnal enuresis (or bedwetting) is complete emptying of the bladder, occurring involuntarily and unconsciously during a night’s sleep.

We speak of nocturnal enuresis only in children over 5 years old (other sources speak of the age of 7 years). Before the age of 5 or 7, it is believed to be a natural process and bedwetting is not a condition. At the age of 5 years 10 to 15% of children would wet the bed. The majority of children are potty trained (no longer wetting their bed) by the age of 2 or 3 years. The exact causes of bedwetting are still little known, however it is believed that genetic and hormonal reasons could have an important role. A hypothesis also suggests that bedwetting could come from constipation.

Probable causes of bedwetting

It is very difficult for the medical and scientific community to identify a specific cause for bedwetting.

However, it is believed that the hereditary (genetic) factor is very important, so if a parent suffered from bedwetting during childhood or still in adulthood the child will be more likely to develop bedwetting.

A hormonal problem is also suspected. It is thought that in some children, during the night, the body does not produce enough of a hormone called antidiuretic hormone (vasopressin or ADH in English for antidiuretic hormone) which causes more frequent and more spontaneous emission of urine, the child does not can’t hold back the urine that is in large quantities in his bladder.

Another common theory in the medical community is that the immaturity of the nervous system relates to the urinary system of children, which is why even if the bladder is full, the child does not receive the signal that he should urinate.

Note finally that there would not necessarily be a psychic or psychological cause (even if this point is debated) in the development of nocturnal enuresis. However, it should be noted that in the event of secondary enuresis, psychological causes could play a key role.

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Finally constipation could be a cause of bedwetting. If a child suffers from constipation and wets the bed, he recommends treating possible constipation with a mild laxative. Hyperactivity could be a risk factor for bedwetting. It is known that bedwetting is more common in children with attention deficit and/or hyperactivity disorders.

In any case, bedwetting should in no way be considered a shame or an error on the part of the parents.

Herbal medicine tips

Pouring 1 to 2 teaspoons of walnut oil on a slice of wholemeal bread, then covering with butter and jam or honey at dinner time helps fight against bedwetting especially in little boys . According to some herbalists, it would be a very effective remedy. It is also possible to massage the belly (under the navel) of the child with walnut oil. St. John’s wort may help with psychological causes of bedwetting.

Practical advice

It is advisable for the child to avoid drinking too much in the evening, it is better to drink the smallest possible volume of drink, just enough to quench thirst.

Some pediatricians recommend not drinking any liquids after 6:30 p.m.

Encourage your child to go to the toilet regularly during the day, for example every 2 hours.

The child should avoid consuming caffeine-rich drinks or foods in the evening, such as cola-based sodas or chocolate.

The child must absolutely go to the toilet before going to bed (empty the bladder completely), for example a good trick for peeing: run your fingers or hand under cold water (this can promote complete emptying of the bladder). It will therefore be necessary to bring the child to the toilet every day before going to bed.

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In order to properly monitor and control the nights when the child has been dry or, on the contrary, wet, you can keep a calendar with your child in which you will write down, for example, a sun or a cloud, whether he has been clean or not.

For parents, avoid giving too much importance to this problem, this helps to limit psychological problems in the child. However, this does not mean that a solution should not be found, but not dramatizing the situation is good advice for the child in order to prevent him from losing self-confidence. Avoid talking about this subject in public, it could harm the child and develop in him a feeling of shame.

You can leave a light on to clearly indicate the way to the toilet.

Schedule an alarm clock at the time when the child usually wets the bed. Wake the child and take him to the toilet.


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