If you’re reading this then it’s likely you’re worried that your 5 year old child is still wetting their bed at night.
There is no need to worry, up to the age of 5 yrs, wetting the bed at night is normal and it is likely that it will stop occurring as your child gets older without any need for treatment, just bed protection products whilst they are going through this stage.
Here are 6 things you should know to help you manage bed wetting better.
It’s relatively normal to wet the bed at age 5.
The secrecy and taboo around bed wetting means that it’s rarely discussed amongst parents whose children experience it. Yet, wet bed sheets and mattresses are a common scene in kid’s bedroom’s up and down the country.
In reality 15-20% of all 5 year old children experience regular bed wetting and this is still relatively common in older ages too:
Age 5 years – up to 1 in 5 children
Age 10 years – up to 1 in 20 children
Teenagers – 1 in 50 children
Adults – 1 in 100 adults
Generally boys are more likely to wet their bed than girls.
What causes Bed Wetting?
Bedwetting happens when your child produces more urine (pee) at night than their bladder is able to hold. Sometimes bed wetting is referred to as Nocturnal Enuresis.
Unlike Babies who produce urine constantly, toddlers start producing an Anti-Diuretic hormone which inhabits night time urine production to reduce the amount of urine produced at night. However, this development occurs at different ages in different children.
In addition, over time they become sensitive to the feeling that they need to urinate due to the brain recognising the stretching of the bladder walls. Again, this can develop at different times in different children.
It’s important to stay calm when they wet the bed.
Bed wetting isn’t something any child does deliberately or because they are lazy, blaming them for an incident can increase the stress on the child and reduce the likelihood of them achieving dry nights.
Both parents and child can feel stressed when woken up in the middle of the night and therefore it’s important to deal with the situation calmly, even faced with the prospect of changing the child’s clothing and bedding
Planning ahead can help, and often it’s easier to let the child sleep in their underwear and a T shirt/Vest to minimise wet clothing. It’s also recommended to use an absorbent bed pad (such as Brolly Sheets Bed Pads) to absorb any leaks and protect the mattress below. Adding secondary layers of protection with waterproof mattress protectors and waterproof duvet protectors can also reduce the need to change items during the night and reduce the risk of urine stains and damage on bed items.
There are a number of factors which can mean your child is more likely to wet the bed.
We’re all different and there is a long list of factors which influence how quickly your child will become dry at night:
- It runs in the family. If you or your partner wet the bed as a child there is a likelihood your child will too.
- Delay in bladder maturity. The speed at which the nerves in the bladder develop and communicate with the brain differs from child to child.
- Small bladder. If you’re child’s bladder size grows slowly then their ability to retain urine is delayed.
- Low Anti-Diuretic hormone (ADH) levels. As children become toddlers they start to develop this hormone which slows night time urine production. If this is slower than other children it means their bodies produce more urine at night than other children.
-Deep sleep. Linked into bladder maturity, if your son or daughter is a particularly deep sleeper then their brain may not be getting the signal from the bladder nerves that it is full.
-Anxiety and Stress. This is generally identified when a child has been dry for a period but starts to wet again at night. Stressful events such as starting or moving school, the birth of a sibling or separation from parents/loved ones, can cause bed wetting to re-occur.
It’s not necessary to see a GP about Bed Wetting generally.
As this is a normal part of the development process then if your son or daughter is still wetting the bed at age 5, then this is nothing to worry about and they will probably grow out of it. However there are some circumstances where you might find it beneficial to discuss the situation with your GP as it might be an indicator of another condition.
-Chronic constipation. This can cause the bladder and bowel muscles to become dysfunctional and cause night time bed wetting. In this instance, if it is ongoing then it might be worth discussing treatment options with your GP to resolve the constipation.
- Diabetes. If your child is normally dry at night, then if they start bed wetting for no apparent reason this might be a first sign of diabetes. Other symptoms may include increased thirst and and fatigue.
- They have been dry during the day for a while but have also started wetting themselves during the day.
- Urine Infection. They go to the toilet a lot during the day (e.g every hour), the can’t hold it when they need to pee or if peeing is painful.
There are some simple steps you can take to help them
For most children, growing out of bed wetting is simply a matter of time and not a medical issue, however there are a few tips and tricks you can use to help reduce episodes and help your child on the path to night time dryness:
-Limit caffeine. Caffeine increase the rate at which the body produces urine so cutting back on drinks like Cola and Hot Chocolate in the evening and hours leading up to it can help.
-Limit drinks just before bedtime. Ideally they should have their last drink of the day around 90 minutes before bedtime to allow time for this to be processed by their body before they empty their bladder. Remember it is important they drink regularly (at least 3 drinks) during the day though.
-Start with an empty bladder. Encourage your child to wee just before the go so that they start the night with an empty bladder.
-Make it clear it’s not their fault or problem. Don’t put pressure on your child to be dry at night as this can make things worse, instead make it clear it’s not their fault and they will eventually outgrow it. Also ensure that any siblings don’t tease them for it, make it clear it could easily be them too.
-Ensure the toilet or potty is easy to reach. If they sleep in a bunk bed, then they should use the bottom bunk. It’s important that the toilet should be easy to get to if they do wake up.
-Set an alarm. If it’s an ongoing problem, then setting an alarm to wake them to go to the toilet might help manage the issue though this should not become relied upon. You might choose to set an alarm for when you go to bed so that you can help them go to the toilet before you head to bed too. Alternatively, you may want to consider a specifically designed bed-wetting alarm which senses moisture in their bed or underwear. This will set off an alarm which should encourage them to wake up so they can go to the toilet to finish urinating.
The journey to night-time dryness can be a difficult one for some children, so praise and support should be given for positive actions such as reacting to an alarm, going to the bathroom once you have gone into their bedroom, or changing their pants. They shouldn't just be praised for nights when they don't wet the bed. You might want to consider rewarding your child's success. Click on the link for a free download of our Night Time Bedwetting Progress chart. More progress charts for Daytime Potty and Toilet Training are available from our Free Downloads Page.