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Bedwetting is a form of enuresis, or loss of bladder control. Solutions vary, depending on the cause and nature of the enuresis.

“Bedwetting in a child under the age of about four years should really not be considered enuresis,” says Trish Holgate, a social worker specialising in child counselling. “While the parent may long for dry sheets, the child may still not have the required bladder control. And, even once dryness has been achieved, you can still expect the odd wet bed. However, it should resolve itself by about the age of seven.”

Two types of enuresis

 Primary enuresis refers to when a child has never managed to achieve dryness at night. There are three contributing factors:

  • Going into a very deep sleep and not waking up from the sensation of a full bladder
  • Having a small functional bladder capacity
  • The overproduction of urine while sleeping (polyuria), caused by a lack of an antidiuretic hormone. This affects about 60% of sufferers.

Secondary enuresis refers to children who have achieved dryness at night but then begin wetting their beds again.

Causes can be:
  • Constipation
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Congenital defects

Interestingly, enuresis is three times more common in boys, and a child is 70% more likely to develop this condition if both parents were enuretic themselves, suggesting a strong hereditary link.

It is important to remember that bedwetting is not bad behaviour that needs to be punished. Read more here .

Bedwetting solutions

Solutions vary, depending on the cause and nature of the enuresis. It is important to show confidence in your child’s ability to eventually control their bladder function. Letting your child know that you also suffered from this when you were a child provides comfort and reassurance.

If you are concerned, let your GP examine your child and advise you of the appropriate steps to take. Medication such as an antidiuretic hormone can slow down urine production at night. Eliminate foods that irritate the bladder, for example, dairy products, caffeine, carbonated drinks and acidic foods.

Many parents swear by the use of a bed alarm. A sensor is placed inside the child’s underclothes and is connected to an alarm that goes off if the child starts to urinate.