What you can do now
By: Renee Mercer, MSN, CPNP
A child younger than six may not yet be physically or emotionally mature enough to stay dry at night. In these cases, waiting a few months to a year can create the optimal situation for intervening with treatment.
Waiting or doing nothing can be stressful for everyone involved. The extra workload can be burdensome to parents and caregivers. Remember, your child cannot control nighttime bedwetting. Negative remarks and punishments may stress the child and hinder any progress; at the very least they won’t help. Try to be matter-of-fact about the workload while waiting for the opportune moment.
You can turn this waiting period into a learning opportunity for your child. One of the greatest burdens of bedwetting is daily laundry. Try to enlist the child’s help in stripping bed linens, carrying them to the washing machine, and making the bed. This can make things easier for you and also encourage the child.
Here are some hints to decrease the workload:
- Use disposable pants until your child is ready for treatment
- Use waterproof pads that can be changed during the night so your child is dry for as much time as possible. These can be either washable or disposable.
- Take your child to the bathroom right before you go to bed
- Use vinyl mattress covers that can be disinfected to decrease odor
- Place a few sets of clean pajamas or underwear next to the bed to decrease clean-up time
- A night light in the room will reduce the need to turn on all the lights during middle-of-the-night clean-ups
- Waterproof sleeping bag liners are more easily laundered than the entire sleeping bag
- Place a few towels over the wet area to keep your child comfortable until morning
Because some bedwetting children will spontaneously stop wetting, a few parents will see the problem resolve without intervention. However, the majority will see bedwetting persist over time. When you intervene after a period of waiting, chances are your child will be old enough to cooperate and be motivated to succeed. By the age of eight, intervention should begin even if the child isn’t highly motivated. Some children become motivated once they realize there is something they can do to fix the problem.
You know your child best. You will know when the time is right to begin intervention.