More Water, Not Less, Will Help End Bedwetting
By Graham Jones
Children are notoriously bad at drinking enough liquids. They are so busy playing they sometimes 'forget' to drink. Sometimes, children seem like camels - able to go for ages without having a drink. Obviously, when they are thirsty they will rush indoors for a drink. But often they look for sugary, caffeine-laden drinks which are great for quenching thirst, but do little for the body's fluid levels.
That's because the caffeine in many drinks leads to extra urination. The result is that more liquid goes out of the body than is taken in. And therein lies a problem. Your child's body has inbuilt mechanisms to maintain the liquid levels. A lack of liquid intake, combined with the effects of caffeine in fluid output, means your child's body requires more liquids to maintain the right balance. In other words, their body starts to demand more liquid.
That demand for extra liquids usually starts at the worst possible time - early evening. Your child is home from school or from a day playing with friends and they suddenly want a drink. They gulp down whatever you give them and demand more - and more. This is because their hydration levels are low and their body's self defense mechanisms have kicked in to ensure that they don't become dehydrated.
However, the body always takes in more than it actually needs - just to be on the safe side. So that excess has to go somewhere. It is taken out by the kidneys, converted into urine and placed in the bladder for urination. But this can take a few hours to occur. The result is that your child's bladder has often not completed filling until after they have gone to bed.
If they have a poorly developed sense of bladder fullness while asleep, they will simply wet the bed. Many children wet the bed not because they drink too much, but because they don't drink enough!
If a child drinks plenty of water during the day, they need less during the evening. Also, because their body has had time during the day to regulate it's water levels, there is less need for urinating at night. Hence if a child drinks more during the day, the likelihood of bed wetting is reduced. Preventing your child from drinking too much liquid is actually working against you; it makes bed wetting more likely.
The problem for many parents is encouraging children to drink enough water during the day. As ever, changing your child's habits starts with changing your own. Start drinking more water yourself - it won't do you any harm! Your child will see you doing this and will not see water drinking as unusual.
Also, make sure you provide your child with water whenever they go out. Put a bottle of water in their bag and encourage them to drink it. Equally, raise the issue with school, suggesting that children should be encouraged to drink more. You don't need to mention your child's bedwetting - indeed you shouldn't as it will embarrass your child. However, if you can get your child's school to encourage more daytime drinking of water you'll be helping the overall health of the whole school - as well as reducing bedwetting in your own child.
More information on dealing with bed wetting can be found at http://www.bed-wetting-info.co.uk
About The Author
Graham Jones is a child psychologist who helps parents cope with the difficulties of bed wetting.