As a parent of a child who wets at night, you are often given the advice to limit evening fluids for several hours before bedtime. The problem is that your child may often be asking for drinks or “sneaking” drinks if you do not allow them. For older children who have evening sports practices, it doesn’t seem right to stop them from rehydrating after they have just sweat for an hour.
In my experience, severely curtailing evening fluids does little to stop bedwetting. It can also create a battlefield in the home every evening. My answer is Yes to the “Drinks Before Bed” dilemma. If your child is truly thirsty, let him or her drink small amounts of water before bed.
Some helpful tips:
Drink throughout the day
An effective approach is to increase the total amount of fluids consumed during the daytime hours. Many school aged children drink very little for breakfast, nothing between classes and 8 ounces of milk or juice at lunch. By 4:00PM, their bodies are thirsty. They have to consume their entire day’s allotment of fluids between 4:00 and 8:00PM. Add some sports or other exercise in the late afternoon, and these children are genuinely thirsty at 7:00PM. Their thirst and body’s urge for fluid intake is strong.
Many schools are allowing children to have water bottles at their desk. This is a great way for kids to stay well hydrated throughout the day. Your son and daughter needs to know it’s important to not only have the water bottle there, but to actually drink the entire thing throughout the day. Drinking at least 32 ounces during the school day and having 12 ounces at breakfast makes a big difference in their hydration status.
Best beverage is plain water
Water is better than juice, sugar-laden, or carbonated drinks when your child is thirsty in the evening. The majority of children drink the right amount of water to quench their thirst. Carbonated drinks in the evening can make the bladder more “irritable” and contribute to nighttime wetting.
Double void before bed
Make a habit of having your child urinate in the bathroom twice before going to bed. These bathroom trips should be 20-30 minutes apart. The second time, there may not be any urine to go in the toilet. That is fine and helps insure that the night is started with an empty bladder.
Hydrate before going to evening sports practice
Have your child drink a glass of water before evening sports practice to anticipate the extra fluid needed for sweating. This fluid can be used during practice instead of waiting until the practice is over before hydrating.
Water to quench thirst is okay before bed
If truly thirsty, let your child drink small amounts before bed. I don’t find that a glass of water in the evening makes a huge difference in a wet or dry night. In children who are using a bedwetting alarm, I encourage good hydration. The alarm sounds as a reminder to get up and use the bathroom if needed.
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