Debunking the myths of bedwetting in under 5s

Debunking Myths

Many parents believe that once their child has potty trained and is reliably clean and dry in the day, it won’t be long before they will stop needing a nappy at night time. It’s an issue which can cause a lot of stress and worry for parents who may ask themselves in frustration: “Where are we going wrong and why can’t our child do it when all their friends have stopped bedwetting?” This is just one of many myths around bedwetting.

Read on to get reassurance, practical tips and answers to the questions you may have.

Myth no 1: Can  I train my child to be dry at night?

For the vast majority of children, bedwetting happens whilst they’re sleeping and is outside their conscious control. So it isn’t something you can simply ‘train’ a child not to do.  The reasons why bedwetting happens can be varied and complex for some children.

However, there are lots of ways you can help to prepare your child for night time dryness and help them along the way.

Myth No 2: Now my toddler has potty trained shouldn’t they stop bedwetting too?

Just because your child has potty trained and is reliably clean and dry in the day it doesn’t always follow that they will stop being wet at night. Night time training is quite different from daytime toilet training. Your child’s bladder is still maturing up to the age of five.  Night time dryness is expected to take longer than the daytime. It’s also perfectly natural for children to have the odd accident at night.  Even when they’ve been dry for some time perhaps because they’re unwell, they have a nightmare or get over-tired.

Myth No 3: My child is hitting all their milestones but still bedwetting. Have we done something wrong?

No! Remember that each child is an individual and they develop at different rates.  Try to avoid comparisons with others the same age. Bedwetting is a common childhood condition.  Around 12% of seven to nine year-olds regularly wet the bed. Bedwetting doesn’t have a psychological cause.  For most children it happens because they are making too much wee as they sleep.  Or they aren’t able to wake up when their bladder needs to be emptied. For more information about the reasons why children wet the bed and how this can be treated see the ERIC website bedwetting information pages.

Myth No 4: Taking my child for a ‘dream wee’ to the loo will help them to stop bedwetting.

Lots of parents try ‘lifting’ their child for a wee usually just before they go to sleep themselves.  They are trying to avoid a wet pull-up or bed. Doing this may work for a while.  However, it’s a way of managing their bedwetting rather than a cure. ‘Dream wees’ simply try to help get a dry bed rather than a dry child. This is because you are deciding when they should do a wee rather than them responding to their own full bladder signal. Lifting can be helpful when a child first stops wearing nappies at night.  But if you do lift, make sure you put the light on and try to get your child fully awake so they are aware of what they’re being asked to do.

Myth no 5: If all children grow out of bedwetting eventually, should we just ‘watch and wait’ until they’re ready to do it themselves?

Most children would grow out of bedwetting even without any intervention or help, but as we know there are underlying causes such as constipation and not drinking enough it’s never too early to help your child keep their bladders and bowels as healthy as possible and follow a good toilet routine. Find out more with ERIC’s children pages for tips on this.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that bedwetting may persist for some older children and there are specific treatments that can be considered for those over 5 years. Check out ERIC’s Guide to Night Time Wetting for more information.

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