Bedwetting can be embarrassing for the child, but it can be treated! Here are 12 natural home remedies for child bedwetting at any age.
Toilet training is considered a challenge by every parent, even if they’ve already done it before. So when children wet their beds after months of training, it can make parents feel like they’ve failed. More importantly, the child may feel like a failure himself, and this may create other emotional issues. However, child bedwetting is more normal than we think! As with everything, knowledge is power, so let’s first get informed on what bedwetting actually is, as well as what causes it and how home remedies for child bedwetting can help.
What is Bedwetting?
Bedwetting, medically known as enuresis or nocturnal enuresis, is the involuntary passing of urine while asleep. It is normal for babies or very young children to urinate in their sleep, so the term bedwetting doesn’t apply to them – it applies to anyone who’s past the age at which they can be expected to stay dry at night.
While kids attain bladder and bowel control at different ages, 80% kids are dry during the day and night by age 5. Generally speaking, urinating while asleep is considered bedwetting after the age of 7 years. These kids are usually completely dry during the day, but have trouble controlling the bladder while asleep. Bedwetting is more common in boys than in girls, although no one knows why.
So why does this happen? The urinary bladder acts as a holder for urine. When it gets full, the nerves in the bladder wall send the brain a message. The brain then replies with an instruction to hold the urine in till the person voluntarily contracts the bladder to urinate and let it all out.
Bedwetting occurs when there is a problem anywhere during this process, causing an involuntary release of urine. There are two kinds of bedwetting or enuresis:
Primary enuresis – This term applies to children who have never attained night time dryness, despite being toilet trained.
Secondary enuresis– This applies to children who’ve started bedwetting after having been dry for some time. An occasional accident isn’t considered a problem, however if the bedwetting has been going on for 6 months or longer, it is considered enuresis.
What causes bedwetting in children?
Many parents wonder if bedwetting is because of improper toilet training, but that’s often not the case. Bedwetting in children is mostly a developmental issue, and experts are still not sure why it happens, although they agree that there are some factors that may play a role. Here are some possible causes for primary enuresis:
1. Small bladder – Some children may have bladders of normal size, but the functional capacity may be smaller. Such children tend to urinate more frequently in general, and are more likely to wet the bed at night.
2. Hormonal imbalances – There are hormones like vasopressin that slows down urine production at night, and the level of these hormones may be lower in some children.
3. Neurological issues – Since the nerves are responsible for indicating a full bladder, any neurological issue can fail to send the message to the brain or to receive the message to hold the urine in.
Secondary enuresis may be due to the following reasons:
1. Urinary tract infections (UTI) – Bedwetting may be a symptom of an infection in the urinary tract, along with painful urination, a constant urge to pee or discolored urine
2. Constipation – Children who suffer from chronic constipation are likely to wet the bed more frequently since the muscles used to control bladder and bowel elimination are the same
3. Family history – Experts have found that there are certain genes that cause bedwetting, and if one or both parents have experienced bedwetting, there’s a high chance of the child suffering the same
4. Sleep apnea – Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where the child’s sleep is disrupted due to breathing interruptions, and bedwetting is one of the symptoms
5. Diabetes – Bedwetting is one of the early signs of diabetes, along with increased thirst and unexplained weight loss
6. Structural abnormalities – Although rare, bedwetting can also be due to a structural abnormality in the muscles or organs of the urinary tract
7. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) – Children with ADHD are more likely to wet the bed
8. Psychological stress – Children who go through any major life event like a new home, new school, new sibling or trauma like separation from parents may go back to bed wetting after staying dry for a while
9. Poor diet – Sometimes, a diet of too much salt, sugar, caffeine, citrus fruits or spicy food may irritate the bladder and cause bedwetting
10. Deep sleep – Some children just sleep so soundly that they are unable to realize their bladder is full
Since bedwetting is diagnosed in children past the age of seven, they are likely to feel a range of emotions including embarrassment, guilt and anxiety. It can also cause rashes if the child continues to sleep in wet clothes. However, bedwetting is generally considered a non-serious condition, and most kids outgrow it by the teen years, and it doesn’t affect their normal growth and development. Yet, you can make things a little better with a few home remedies for child bedwetting, which are practical and free from side effects.
12 Home Remedies for Child Bedwetting
1. Limiting Fluids
This is probably the most important and most effective tip in this list of home remedies for child bedwetting! Encourage your child to drink most of her fluids in the mornings and afternoons, so she isn’t very thirsty by evening. Don’t deprive her of water at night, but try to limit it to a few sips.
2. Avoiding Caffeine
We don’t think that children are consuming caffeine, but they may be getting caffeine from soft drinks, milkshakes, cold coffee and chocolate. Caffeine stimulates the bladder and can promote frequent urination, so it’s best to avoid it, especially in the second half of the day.
3. Double Voiding
Urinating before bed is always recommended, but double voiding means doing it twice – once at the start of the bedtime routine and second just before sleep. If your child wants to go in between, that’s okay too. Going multiple times before bed will also give your child more confidence that he’ll stay dry all night.
4. Regular Toilet Use
Another one of the home remedies for child bedwetting that works for most parents is regular bathroom breaks during the day. Try to schedule a break every two to three hours, so your child isn’t running to the bathroom at the last minute, and gets into a comfortable routine of emptying the bladder calmly. It may take a while for the routine to fall in place, so constant reminders may be required at the beginning.
5. Moisture Alarms
Moisture alarms are small devices that consist of a moisture sensor and a clip. The clip attaches to the child’s under garments or pajamas. Just as the child begins to urinate, the sensor detects moisture and sounds the alarm, waking the child. Usually at this point, the child is able to stop the flow of urine and rush to the bathroom to empty his bladder. This device is also called an enuresis alarm or bedwetting alarm and runs on batteries. If using a moisture alarm, it’s a good idea to try it out during the day so the child knows how it works and what to do.
6. Bladder Exercises
Bladder exercises or bladder training help kids get more control of their bladder, which if done regularly, become second nature and help even while asleep. When your child needs to go to the bathroom, ask them to hold it for a few minutes and then go. You can gradually increase the ‘holding time’ as they gain more control of the bladder. This will improve the bladder’s functional capacity and prevent frequent voiding. This will work better with slightly older kids. You can also get them to squeeze a ball between their thighs to strengthen the pelvic muscles.
Going back to traditional home remedies for child bedwetting, some parents find that s gentle massage of the lower abdomen can be relaxing and can also help the pelvic muscles. Use warm olive oil for the massage so it makes for a more soothing and smoother massage. Olive oil is believed to help the pelvic muscles prevent involuntary release of urine.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is known for its many healing benefits, and this includes treating child bedwetting. It reduces the acidity of the body thus decreasing the urge to urinate. Apple cider vinegar also helps prevent kidney stones. It should always be offered in a diluted form, especially for children.
9. Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice has long been considered the perfect antidote for urinary tract infections, and it also finds a place among home remedies for child bedwetting. This juice can be offered to children to prevent infections that can cause secondary enuresis and at least reduces the amount of urine produced at night.
Amla, or the Indian gooseberry, is used in a wide variety of traditional treatments, including home remedies for child bedwetting. Ayurveda believes that amla can treat urinary infections as well as intestinal disorders, making it great for bedwetting as well as for constipation. You can offer this to your child by mixing a teaspoon of ground amla in warm water.
Many a time, low temperatures trigger the urge to urinate, and this also affects bedwetting in children. Jaggery is believed to be warming for the body, which is why it is a great ingredient to have to reduce the chances of involuntary urination at night. A spoonful of powdered jaggery in warm milk is a great drink to have a good night’s sleep while staying dry.
Cinnamon is also a warming spice, with many healing benefits. Cinnamon is packed with antioxidants as well as antibacterial properties. As a result, cinnamon can help prevent urinary infections and can also help with reducing urine output at night. Cinnamon can be easily added to the child’s food or drinks, by sprinkling some powdered cinnamon on top.
Offering Support to the Child
The most important your child needs along with these home remedies for bedwetting is your unconditional support. Children may feel embarrassed about wetting the bed ‘like a baby’, and they may also experience guilt at making you clean up the mess. Your support and reassurance is critical here, as it can make a difference in the healing process.
Don’t trivialize or blow up your child’s feelings. Talk about them as a matter of fact and acknowledge how they are feeling. Hear them out and address their concerns. Help them understand that they are not alone, and that this problem is quite common in kids. If you or anyone in the family has been through this before, talking about it can help the child feel more confident about overcoming the problem.
If stress due to a major life event is causing the bedwetting, address that first. In this case, it is important to tackle the root cause. If your child needs counseling, don’t hesitate to seek psychological support. It is important to understand that these home remedies for child bedwetting will take time to see results, and you have to be patient. Please remember that waking yourself up to take your child to the bathroom at night is not a good idea, and it doesn’t work in the long run.
When your child wets the bed, don’t get angry or scold your child. Even if you don’t say anything, your child will sense that you are upset and it will distress her further. Instead, get your child involved in the process. Lay out a mattress protector and waterproof sheet to make clean up easier. Have a designated spot for soiled sheets and clothes, and keep fresh ones easily accessible.
It may seem like using diapers is the easy way out, but it can slow down progress. Stay with regular underwear and clothes unless you’re traveling or sleeping elsewhere. Ensure your child washes away all the traces of urine to prevent rashes. You may also want to apply some cream if your child is prone to skin rashes or irritation.
Whenever your child has a successful dry night, don’t forget to congratulate her. Every little encouragement helps her stay committed. If she has siblings, help them understand what their brother or sister is going through and discourage any teasing.
Another fun way to help your child feel more at ease with her bedwetting is to read from these children’s books about bedwetting. They’re written in simple language, and lets the child know that there are other people out there with the same problem, and they’re also working towards fixing it. Here are some suggestions for bedwetting books for kids:
- Max Archer, Kid Detective: The Case of the Wet Bed by Howard J. Bennett, Spike Gerrell
- Prince Bravery and Grace – Attack of the Wet Knights by Gail Ann Gross
- Dippy’s Sleepover by Jane Clarke, Mary McQuillan
- Dry Days, Wet Nights by Maribeth Boelts
When should you see the doctor?
While bedwetting resolves by itself generally, in some cases it may be due to an underlying medical condition. If, even after trying the home remedies for child bedwetting for a while your child continues to wet the bed, it’s a good idea to seek medical help. Here are a few cases that warrant medical attention:
- Sudden bed wetting after being night-dry for at least 6 months
- Snoring while sleeping
- Painful urination or a burning sensation while urinating
- Pink or red colored urine
- Change in bowel movements
- Involuntary urination during the day
- Swelling in feet or ankles
When speaking to the doctor, be sure to mention any family history, major changes in the family or any medication your child is taking, along with a detailed medial history. The doctor will conduct a physical examination and may suggest a few tests like urine tests or bladder x-rays. If needed, she may refer you to a pediatric urologist or pediatric nephrologist.
Medications don’t solve a bedwetting problem completely, but in some cases they may help slow urine production during night or calm an irritated bladder. The most common medicines approved by the FDA are Tofranil and DDAVP. These are however, considered a last resort, and in most cases, home remedies for child bedwetting should suffice!