The cure for bedwetting

Jan 31, 2011 at 4:24 p.m. ET

Many misconceptions revolve around the idea that there is or is not a cure for bedwetting. The fact is that different things work for different children, and no matter what, most children will outgrow it eventually. It's also important to remember there are no miracle cures or overnight successes.

Toilet trainingHere is some advice for gradual treatment:

If there is no physical cause for bedwetting, physicians may suggest waking the child at night to use the bathroom. The idea is to train the child's unconscious mind to recognize the feeling of "having to go" and use that recognition to clamp down on the sphincter muscle.

Make a sacrifice and set an alarm:

Renee Mercer, founder of Enuresis Associates in Maryland, and Shelly Morris, director of the Enuresis Treatment Center in Michigan, both point out that if a child is sleeping too deeply to wake to go to the bathroom, the parent will need to wake the child up.

Mercer says over 10 to 12 weeks, a parent will see a gradual reduction in the amount of fluid a child releases. In other words, the child will still wet the bed throughout treatment, but they will gradually be able to react and use their sphincter muscles before completely letting go of their bladder until they finally reach the point of complete control. Mercer likens it to waking up several times a night with a newborn, but, like the time spent with your newborn, the results are certainly worth the sacrifice.

Get some Underpants:

In the meantime, the parent may choose to use disposable absorbent underpants to cut down on laundry and ruined mattresses. Underpants also can save embarrassment and allow kids to attend sleepovers and camping trips. Some physicians also may recommend restricting fluids before bedtime (though never withhold fluids) and waking the child one or more times a night to go to the bathroom. Two brands to check out: GoodNites (from the makers of Huggies) and UnderJams (from Pampers).

Be proactive:

The time to treat bedwetting is when it first becomes obvious that it is a problem – at about age 5 or so. Mercer points out that at that age children have few social obligations, parents have a lot of control over their bedtime habits and children tend to be very amenable to taking directions. This is important, because the biggest factor in the successful treatment of bedwetting is a high level of parental involvement.

When you're dealing with a problem like bedwetting with both physical and social consequences, it's important to get all your facts straight so you can give your child the best possible help to get through this stage of his life. Remember, if you're ever in doubt, consult your doctor for the right information.


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