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Self-help advice for bedwetting

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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In many cases of bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis), it may be possible to help your child stay dry throughout the night without treatment.

The advice listed below may prove useful in preventing bedwetting.

  • Your child should drink normally throughout the day. However, they should not drink during the couple of hours before bedtime, particularly caffeinated liquids such as cola and other fizzy drinks. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means that it encourages the body to produce more urine.
  • Encourage your child to empty their bladder by going to the toilet before they go to bed.
  • Ensure that your child has easy access to the toilet at night. For example, if they have a bunk bed they should sleep on the bottom. You may also like to leave a light on in the bathroom and put a child's seat on the toilet.
  • Use waterproof covers on your child's mattress and duvet, and absorbent, quilted sheets. After a bedwetting, use cold water or mild bleach to rinse your child's bedding and nightclothes and then wash them as usual.
  • Following a bedwetting, older children may wish to change their bedding at night to minimise disruption and embarrassment. If so, have clean bedding and nightclothes available for them.
  • After your child has wet the bed, wash them thoroughly (including their hair) before re-dressing them. Use a simple emollient (moisturiser) on your child's skin to help prevent chapping (red and irritated skin). If necessary, after a bedwetting, spray the room with a deodoriser.
  • Have a neutral attitude to bedwetting, to minimise your child's embarrassment. This means not blaming your child for wetting the bed, and taking positive steps, such as those listed above, to resolve the problem.
  • Do not punish your child for wetting the bed. Doing so can make things worse by humiliating them and lowering their self-esteem.
  • Use a reward system, such as a star chart (awarding coloured stars when your child has a dry night) to encourage positive behaviour. You could reward your child for behaviour that helps to stay dry at night, such as drinking plenty of fluids during the day, or getting up to use the toilet at night.

Glossary

  • Bladder: The bladder is a small organ near the pelvis that holds urine until it is ready to be passed from the body.
Medical Review: July 20, 2009

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