At what age should I start treating bedwetting?
By age 5 or 6 most children grow out of night time wetting. There is no magical age to determine when you should start addressing the problem, but most parents look for solutions at around age 6.
What treatment options are available?
If you and your child are not concerned about the bedwetting then the easiest solution is to simply ‘wait it out’ and see what happens. Often children become dry in their own time. If you are ready to deal with the problem now, then bedwetting alarms are recognised as the most successful of all conventional and commonly used bedwetting treatments. Selecting the right alarm is important.
Medications are a last resort and often used as a short term solution (eg school camp).
Other treatments can be used in combination with an alarm, such as reward systems, counselling and improving daytime toileting programmes.
Which treatment options are most successful?
Studies have shown that bedwetting alarms are effective in correcting bedwetting in up to 85% of children. The success rates are, however, dependent on several factors. The most important factor for success is the amount of parental and child involvement and motivation. For optimal results, the alarm requires the parent and child working together for several weeks following the same routine of waking, visiting the toilet and setting the alarm again. A good way of thinking about this is ‘short term pain, for long term gain’!
Is a bedwetting alarm right for us?
The number one factor determining the success of a bedwetting alarm is parent and child motivation. In order for success to happen both parties need to want to stop the bedwetting. If you believe there may be a medical condition stopping dry nights, then visit your doctor before using an alarm. Typically parents make the decision to start using an alarm when their child is over 5 years of age.
Should I just wait until my child outgrows bedwetting?
Up to 30% of 5-6 year olds wet the bed at night. Some 5-6 year olds grow out of bedwetting and by age 7-8, but up to 15% are still wetting the bed. There is no right or wrong age to start treatment. However it is generally agreed that over the age of 5 or 6 parents start looking for solutions. The decision to start treatment or wait is dependent on you and your individual child. Certainly if your child is starting to show signs of discomfort, embarrassment or frustration then it is a good time to start.
Which treatments DON'T work?
Using a reward chart or offering incentives (by themselves) without any other treatments can often have a detrimental effect on a child who wants to stop wetting but can’t. Offering a reward for something they cannot achieve by themselves can be sole destroying and disappointing for a child (and parent).
Some parents wake their child up to take them to the toilet several hours after they go to sleep. However, lifting is of little use, and may even prolong the problem. Your child has to get used to waking up when their bladder is full. Children often do not remember being lifted, and it usually does not help to achieve their own bladder control.
Should I use a reward chart?
Reward or incentives are a useful tool if used in conjunction with a bedwetting alarm. Give plenty of encouragement, praise and rewards for following through with the programme, rather than waiting for an actual day night. Offer praise if your child fits the alarm independently, gets changed without help and eventually wakes to the alarm and visits the toilet without assistance. Keep up the praise and encouragement (even through the tough and tired times).
How long does treatment take?
Treatment varies dramatically from one child to the next. Success often happens quicker at around age 6 ½ or 7. If a child is too young (eg age 4-5) or older (over 8) then it can take longer for the alarm to be successful. When using the right alarm some children will be dry within days, others will take weeks (up to 12 or 16 weeks).
My child has started wetting the bed again. What should I do?
Rarely there is a medical cause, such as urinary infection or diabetes. It is a good idea to visit the doctor to rule out any medical condition.
Consider whether there is a cause for the relapse and support your child through this and once you have ruled out any medical conditions for the relapse, then a short course of using the alarm again will usually resolve the problem.
Should I visit my doctor?
It’s rare for there to be a medical problem associated with bed-wetting, but it’s important not to miss a child who does have something wrong. If you believe there may be an underlying medical condition, then it is important to visit your doctor to rule out any problems.
Sometimes a child who has been dry during the day for months or years begins to wet. In such a case, it is necessary for the child to see a doctor immediately to check for infection or other physical or emotional problems.