Bed-wetting, also known as enuresis (nocturnal enuresis if it occurs at night), is more common than parents realize, affecting from 5 to 7 million children in the United States annually. Many of these children are between the ages of 5-8.
Understandably, parents are taught to believe that potty training means the end of “accidents,” but often, this is not the case. Statistically speaking, 15% of all children still wet the bed at age 5; 7-10% wet the bed at age 7; and 3% of boys and 2% of girls still wet the bed at age 10. While those numbers are relatively low, they do provide some consolation for parents and their daughters struggling with bed-wetting incidents.
The biggest quandary for parents is often how to approach the problem with their child. It’s important to understand that your daughter is not alone in her struggle and there is help for children with enuresis. You should never blame your daughter or make her feel ashamed of her body. The key is to continue to support her and reassure her that this is a normal part of development that can be treated.
So, what causes bed-wetting in girls that are already potty trained? And, more importantly, what can parents do to help their child? Try these parenting tips and advice to help support your daughter and put an end to the bed-wetting for good.
Common Causes for Bed-Wetting in Older Girls:
• Genetics and Gender. Two thirds of bed-wetter’s are boys, making girls statistically less prone to the condition. However, heredity and genetics may also play a part in whether or not your daughter develops enuresis. If a child’s parent was a bed-wetter, her child has a 40 percent chance of being a bed-wetter too. While there’s no known “bed-wetting gene”, many experts believe that children with enuresis inherit an inability to produce enough of an antidiuretic hormone that helps to slow nighttime urine production.
• Deep Sleepers. Some children are just “deep sleepers” and forget to wake up to use the bathroom. There is simply a disconnect between their brain and their bladder which makes it difficult for them to wake up in time to get to the bathroom.
• Sleep Apnea. If your daughter snores loudly when sleeping, her bed-wetting could be due to a condition called Sleep Apnea. Children with this sleep disorder have enlarged tonsils and adenoids that continually cut off their air supply when they’re lying down. When your daughter temporarily stops breathing, a chemical imbalance may occur in the brain and body that suddenly causes her to wet the bed. Sleep apnea symptoms can include loud snoring, sinus infections, ear infections, sore throat, and drowsiness.
• Psychological Issues. On occasion, bed wetting can be caused by psychological problems your daughter may be experiencing. These issues can occur either in your child or in another family member. Bed-wetting can be part of a cluster of symptoms that suggest the possibility of sexual abuse. If you suspect that your daughter is suffering psychologically at any age, contact her doctor immediately.
What Parents Can Do to Help:
Young girls (ages 6 and under)
• Limit fluids after dinner. Limit your child to a couple of ounces of liquid before bedtime.
• Wear pull ups. There is nothing wrong with putting your child in a pair of pull ups until she can successfully go through the night without wetting the bed.
• Go to the bathroom before bed. Make sure your child uses the potty right before bedtime.
• Avoid Caffeine. Caffeine can act as a diuretic, especially in the evening, causing your daughter to have to use the bathroom more frequently.
• Wake your child during the night. Wake your daughter to urinate during the night, before the time that she usually wets the bed. This will help get her bladder used to getting up to use the bathroom at the same time every night and cut down on accidents.
• Waterproof it. Use a waterproof mattress pad, vinyl mattress cover, or a waterproof mattress overlay that you can put over your daughter’s sheets to help quickly clean up nighttime accidents.
• Age appropriate rewards. As with potty training, it can help to use a reward system for your child. There are many different reward methods and incentives, pick one you and your daughter agree on and give it a try.
For older girls (age 7 and up). Children that continue to have bedwetting issues over the age of 7 or 8 usually see a doctor to help with treatment options. Your physician may prescribe one or more of these options depending on the severity of your daughter’s bed-wetting.
• Bed-wetting alarm. The bed-wetting alarm (enuresis alarm) is a popular technique that has a high success rate after several months of use. However, many parents give up on the alarm because they are inconvenient – the alarm either wakes up everyone in the house or no one at all (not even the bed-wetter). If your doctor suggests this method, it’s best to give it a try.
• Medication. DDAVP is a popular medication that is usually prescribed on an as needed basis. For example, if your daughter is going to a sleep-over or camp-out. This will help her avoid an embarrassing situation of having to explain her friends that she still wets the bed. Other medications, such as imipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant, or oxybutynin may also be prescribed.
• Keep a journal of wet and dry nights. Have your daughter keep a journal of her wet and dry nights. This will help her learn to take charge of her issue while also providing her doctor with valuable information about when and where she wets the bed. This type of information can also be extremely useful to a psychologist or other mental health professional should your daughter require that type of specific treatment.
• Support to your daughter. Remember, bed-wetting can be extremely embarrassing – especially for older children. Don’t lose your temper with your daughter or dismiss her issues. Let her know that you will continue to love and support her throughout this process. You will both get through this small “bump in the road” together.
Other things to keep in mind? Bed-wetting is relatively common and can be corrected. Every year 15% of children simply “outgrow” bed-wetting, so it’s important to remind your daughter that this is a normal part of development. If you suspect she has additional psychological or physical symptoms in addition to bed-wetting, then you should discuss those concerns with her doctor. Medication can be prescribed and psychological issues addressed if parents pay attention to their daughter’s symptoms and give her lots of support.
- Negotiating Night Terrors
- Wake-up Call
- Eliminating Early Bird Mornings
- Potty Toppers for your Potty Princess
- Potty Training 101 for Girls