Bedwetting: help for the holidays

Ah, the holidays – a time for family fun and celebration! But families affected by bedwetting can face some unique holiday challenges.

Bedwetting can add stress to the already stressful holiday season: waking up in a wet bed can be an upsetting experience for your child. It also adds extra work for parents, such as washing sheets and pyjamas and bathing your child more frequently. Concerns about your child's bedwetting can also affect how or if you make holiday travel plans.

But it doesn't have to be this way. There are many coping strategies that can help your family deal with bedwetting.

Medications: Desmopressin tablets can help your child stay dry at night. They work by mimicking a chemical messenger in your body that controls the amount of urine your child produces during sleep. The bladder does not fill up as quickly, which helps prevent the child from wetting the bed. This medication can be used for children aged five years and older. It is taken one hour before bedtime, and can be an effective treatment on an on-going basis or for "special occasions" such as sleepovers or holiday travel. Disintegrating or “melting” tablets are available and might make the medication more appealing. Speak to your doctor about your plans so that you can find the best dose for your child ahead of time. Finding the best dose can take time. The medication's possible side effects, may include headache and mild nausea. Keep in mind that in order for the medication to work as well as possible, limit the fluids that your child drinks after dinner.

Bedwetting alarms: A bedwetting alarm is worn at night and makes a loud sound like a smoke alarm when your child begins to wet the bed. Alarms are used to train your child to get up and use the washroom before they wet the bed. For bedwetting alarms to work properly, children and parents must be prepared to be woken up at night. Alarms work best for older children and require a great deal of commitment from the whole family. Have patience – it takes about a month or two for bedwetting alarms to demonstrate improvement. Until then, because the child may sleep through the alarm's noise, it is often the rest of the family that is awakened.

Other coping strategies:

  • Encourage your child to use the toilet right before bed, and let them know that it's okay to get up at night if they need to use the toilet again. This alone will not stop bedwetting.
  • Get your child involved in the morning cleanup to help them feel more empowered to deal with waking up wet. Be sure to make it clear to the child that this is not a punishment.
  • Don't punish your child for wetting the bed. Bedwetting is not the child's fault.

There are many ways for your family to cope with bedwetting. Speak to your doctor to find out which ones are right for you, and how to get started.

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