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The Breakdown on Bedwetting: September 13, 2012

A growing problem and a going problem. More families are dealing with bedwetting than ever before. In the 1950s, most kids were dry through the night by age two. But times have changed.

“In 2003, they looked at that number again and it certainly wasn’t two years of age; it was actually moved to five at that point.  In terms of my practice, I see what we see pretty much nationally which is 80 percent will be dry by five years of age,” says Dr. Pierre Loredo, a pediatrician with The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. 

Bedwetting is considered primary if the child has never had a prolonged period of being dry through the night.  It indicates immaturity of the nervous system.

“It’s development, in short.  And so what happens is, there’s a nervous system where our brain and bladder are talking.  There’s a muscle within that bladder, and all these different types of development need to take place before the patient’s able to stay dry at night,” says Dr. Loredo.

In short, the bedwetter doesn’t recognize the sensation of a full bladder. Experts do have training tips. The first -  make sure the child isn’t drinking too much too close to bedtime.
“Limit the fluids to about eight ounces. About three hours before bedtime, hold off on those fluids,” says Dr. Loredo.
Creating a ‘path to success’ is also important. Make sure the child has easy access to the bathroom at night and proper lighting like a night light, so they won’t be afraid to get up.

It may help to set goals and offer rewards for progress.

“I always recommend getting a calendar so you can mark off days we stay dry; maybe if we stay dry for a week we can go ahead and pick a little gift or do some fun activity,” says Dr. Loredo.

And never, ever, punish the child for wetting the bed.

“One, it doesn’t help; and two, it winds up giving a lot of psychological stress to the patient that doesn’t make this process any easier.  In fact, it could make it worse,” says Dr. Loredo.

Finally, be patient. Breaking the bedwetting cycle doesn’t happen overnight.