How to manage bedwetting

There are many different strategies recommended to help parents deal with their child’s bedwetting. Some work for some families, not for others and there seems to be no definitive cure. Wet beds aren’t just an inconvenience. When an older child is still wetting at night it rules out fun experiences like school trips, sleepovers and can lead to embarrassment and fears about bullying.

Golden rules to help with bedwetting

1. No pull-up pants or nappies: these ensure your child no longer feels wet when they urinate, delaying them learning to be dry. Throw them all out, says Alicia, because by keeping some back ‘for emergencies’ you are programming your child to fail.

2. No ‘lifting’ Don’t wake your child just as you are going to bed to ‘encourage’ them to have one last wee, she says. This actively trains your child to wee – half-asleep - in the night.

3. No reward systems Alicia says the most helpful way to get your child motivated and successful is to focus on the ‘goal’ itself – ‘dry beds forever’ and the benefits that will bring – sleepovers, holidays and so on - rather than the ‘prize’ – which can actually distract your child and make it harder for them to succeed.

4. Drink water. Don’t restrict fluids but stick to plain water where possible. Some children are more likely to have a wet bed after drinking sugary, fizzy or caffeinated drinks.

In the meantime, while helping your child to change their habits, you may want to invest in a ‘matress protector’ sheet. There are now sheets available which don’t feel or sound plastic, and can be dried in a tumble drier.

Does it work?

Yes, says Helen Robinson, 48, from York, mum to Matthew 13, Paul, 11 and Natasha, seven: “I’d never had bed-wetting problems with my eldest child Matthew. But my second child, Paul had been a bed-wetter until he was about 10 and Natasha also had problems. When a few months ago, she wet my bed twice, after getting in at night following bad dreams, I knew I had to do something.

"I’d taken her to the GP to check she didn’t have a urine infection which might be causing her bed-wetting. So, when I came across Alicia’s method, I decided to give it a go. I’d given up using pull-up pants previously after discovering protective sheeting that I put on the bed under her sheet. But I had been ‘lifting’ her out at night, which I stopped. As for reward charts, I was pretty useless at sticking to them so it was a relief to abandon that idea! I downloaded the audio recording and listened to it with Natasha every night for seven nights. I’d explained to her that if she listened to it faithfully it would stop her wetting the bed and she would be able to have the sleepovers she wanted. Although it was time-consuming, we stuck with the system faithfully and I think it really helped that she truly believed it would work. We haven’t had a wet bed since!”

A new book, ‘Stop Bedwetting in Seven Days’ by hypnotherapist Alicia Eaton (MX Publishing, Ј9.95), outlines a step-by-step guide which claims to help children conquer bedwetting within a week. Guidelines in the book include positive messages for your child to learn to ‘programme’ their brain to wake up if they need the toilet at night. There’s also a free downloadable 20 minute recording, ‘Dry Beds Now!’ from Alicia’s website www.stopbedwettingin7days.co.uk.

For further advice on bedwetting, daytime wetting and other incontinence issues, visit ERIC, 

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

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