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General advice for bedwetting

Posted in: bedwetting

It's understandable that night-time bedwetting (called childhood enuresis) can be frustrating and upsetting for both parents and children, especially if there's been a problem for some time.  Here are some general guidelines which could help you to help your child become dry at night.

Some general tips that could help.

  • Be aware of your child's personality and what they can cope with.
  • If the child wets day and night, help the child achieve day dryness before tackling the night-time bed-wetting.
  • The child must want to be dry at night: their involvement and commitment is necessary. (ie. it's not enough that the parent wants them dry!)
  • Don't restrict fluids in the evening unless drinking in the evening is excessive. Cutting down fluid in this way doesn't actually work and can make it worse by reducing the bladder's ability to expand and to hold bigger volumes of urine.
  • Encourage water in the evening rather than fizzy drinks or drinks containing caffeine (like cola drinks) may irritate the bladder or produce extra night-time urine.
  • Avoid routine wakening. Don't "lift" the child in this way because, while it might reduce the amount of wetting, it can delay the child achieving dryness independently.
  • Beware incentive schemes! They're easy to blow out and manage poorly so that disappointments and setbacks arise.  Set achievable targets (eg. not total dryness straight away) and without overly generous rewards – praise is the best reward of all.
  • Don't make cleaning up a punishment: it's important the child looks after themselves as much as possible, but with support. After all, self-reliance is part of the treatment. Involvement and responsibility in clean-up is something they can be proud of. It's not a punishment.
  • Encourage the child to drink lots of fluids during the day for healthy bladder activity – it won't make the bed-wetting worse. A child should drink whenever they feel thirsty. However, about 6-8 glasses of fluid a day is a rough guide, with more in hot weather and with higher exercise levels.  Set a good example and teach the child to love water.
  • Keep a bedwetting/fluids diary. Perhaps involve the child in making it, and in what it shows. You can both better see the improvements together.
  • Be sensitive to the child's feelings: don't discuss a bedwetting problem with other people in front of the child. 
  • If the child is upset by their ongoing bedwetting, this is a good enough reason alone to seek professional advice about the situation.

* This information is drawn in part from The Dry Night, a free resource available from the National Continence Helpline


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This article was kindly written for Bub Hub by Anne Ramus, Projects Officer, Continence Foundation of Australia.
National Continence Helpline:
Freecall 1800 330 066

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