I have seen many posts on a variety of Facebook groups asking opinions / advice on when children will become dry at night which prompted me to write this post. Bedwetting while annoying isn’t generally considered a problem for onward referral until a child is 6 years of age. This is when the production of a hormone called vasopressin should have kicked in which will concentrate urine overnight, if this hasn’t kicked in by this stage then sometimes a child may require a hormonal treatment which will be available from the GP / local enuresis clinic.
This being the case, there are some things that you can do to attempt to assist the process which are just good habits generally when it comes to hydration and bladder training / toilet use
One thing which is important but which will sound a bit counter intuitive if a child is wetting the bed is the intake of sufficient fluid. Children aged 4 – 8 years of age should have 1.6 litres of fluid, ideally water in a day. It is also important that they are regularly using the toilet to pass urine and having their bowels open. A recent study found that at least 50% of children are not taking enough fluid in a day. Certain fluids are more likely to irritate the bladder as well such as blackcurrant squash for example and fizzy drinks so it is good to stick to water if possible (and tolerated)
The fluid intake should be split into 6 or 7 drinks and by this I don’t mean sips….. They need to finish the whole cup or glass. When children are distracted they often forget to drink, and will not notice that they are dehydrated. Either that or they will take a few sips of their water bottle or a few mouthfuls of water from the fountain, but this is not a “drink”. They will then come home feeling thirsty and drink most of their fluid in a few hours. Ideally, they should avoid fluids for an hour and a half before bed when they empty their bladder for the last time
They also need to use the toilet regularly, this is something that young children often need to be reminded to do if they are busy. Ideally, they should use the toilet to pass urine around 6 times a day. This will help to train their bladder to recognise being full and empty. The bladder is largely made up of muscle so this needs to be regularly filled and emptied to function effectively. I remember when my daughter first toilet trained thinking that it was impressive how she could go for hours without using the toilet, but this is not a positive. Even now nearly 3 years on she will still sometimes leave it until she is desperate to use the toilet before she goes. Luckily, she is now dry overnight but I do feel this is luck rather than judgement
Another important thing to establish is whether your child is constipated or not. This will have an impact on whether they fully empty their bladder. They should open their bowels regularly and to facilitate this they need to eat a diet high in fibre as well as drinking plenty of water. Using the toilet to open their bowels should become a regular part of their daily routine.
If they are not keen on drinking involve their teachers and ask them to monitor this. Or use reward charts. If they are still not dry by the age of 6 or 7 years why not ask for an appointment with your school nurse or your GP to see if they need any additional support? If you would like some more advice and support, an excellent website for reference is the ERIC website https://www.eric.org.uk/Tags: bed wetting, health
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This post was written by Keri Hartwright