Bedwetting can be the result of many, many different reasons. As a parent, you can likely eliminate several reasons on your own. Most any health care practitioner can rule in or out some of the big ones at a simple wellness check. I have spent the most time explaining the most common cause (F) and ways to approach treating it at home. Read through the others (A-G) to get a good overview of other causes.
Reason A) Anatomical issues.
Like an abnormally small bladder. This is rare and can generally be ruled out by even a mediocre doctor. Look for excessive trips to the bathroom throughout the day. Every half hour is too often.
Reason B) Bladder infections.
Easy to rule out and easy to treat with or without antibiotics. Make sure you do not miss this one.
Reason C) Diabetes.
I wish this was rare, but we are seeing Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes at an alarmingly increasing rate. I believe the future holds lots of promise for treating or even curing these diseases and science has advanced enough that your child can remain healthy, with much diligence, to benefit from these coming advances and eventually live a life without diabetes. Diabetes is very easy to test for but is so frequently skipped by doctors at check ups. Look for poor appetites, accidents during the day, and irritability. And if bed wetting is an issue MAKE your practitioner test for Diabetes. Cheap, easy and ridiculous to miss this diagnosis.
Reason D) Sexual Abuse.
As a parent, I find this one even scarier than diabetes because when it comes to the brain, psychology and emotions, we still know so little about out human condition. This is also something I am not able to help much with on my blog. Reach out, ask questions, there are many organizations that can help you and generally free and extremely supportive. This is a difficult subject to broach for most, but the experts have led many through the tough questions and most will admit they new it in their gut already. It is normal to be too afraid to pursue finding out the answer, or maybe you don’t know where to start. As a parent, responsible for such a little human, if you suspect this might be the cause, start asking the hard questions, find experts and support groups to assist you and do it today. Take away your option to look into it “tomorrow.” Do it today. Just do it now.
Reason E) Other.
Humans are complicated. I am sure I am missing some here. Make sure you tell your doctor all symptoms that seem different or unique. Write them down before the appointment and hand them over at the start. Let me know if you have one you would like me to add to the list.
What to do when your doctor has checked everything and is out of options? Or start here and if there isn’t any improvement in a few days or if day time complications appear, – please seek medical attention for ruling out any of the above.
Reason F) Blood Sugar Drops Mid Sleep.
The most common cause relates to temporary food sensitivities and blood sugar irregularities but well within American Scale Normal Limits. If you do nothing, your child will eventually grow out of these with no physical health concerns for them in the future but if you ask them, generally they would rather not wet their bed at night, so let’s proceed. There are generally 2 main solutions. They overlap so keep the two in mind so you can tweak the plan as needed.
So, you need to support your child’s ability to maintain even blood sugar levels throughout the night. Little bodies, especially active little bodies, burn through available sugars quickly, even at rest. This is a desirable attribute as an adult, but annoying and embarrassing sometimes as a child. But again….. Normal.
The easiest way to regulate blood sugars is through diet, both timing and foods.
Approach #1) Dairy is not a friend here. Pasteurized, homogenized cow milk seems to cause late night blood sugars to drop too low to wake up with stimulus. (I can not speak to whether or not, non-homogenized or non-pasteurized would help, but i suspect little humans just don’t do well on milk made for a calf) Butter is not processed as a dairy product by humans, therefore butter does not require ANY restrictions.
Eliminating all dairy products, milk, cheese & ice cream throughout the entire day will generally relieve bedwetting within 3-5 days. If this is effective then you can try adding some back in and see what your child’s threshold is. Their ability to handle dairy will improve as their little bodies get bigger.
Generally cheese is best tolerated and ice cream is the least tolerated.
Also dairy is more of an issue the closer to bed time they have it. For instance, if your child wets the bed every night then you will need to remove all dairy for one year. But it is a short reaction time so they can have ice cream, just wear a pull up that night. After a year, maybe add in some cheese, like one serving a day, and see if that is tolerated. As young as age 4, children are old enough to decide for themselves so you will need to involve your child every step of the way or you will have a battle on your hands. Also, they need to know it is temporary or you risk them fearing dairy and they will experience anxiety around dairy for years, decades to come. It always surprises me how well kids grasp these things, generally better than their parents do.
If your child is in public school, dairy is a recognized allergy and if you demonstrate with a two week food/sleep log that your child can’t handle dairy your pediatrician will sign the release allowing the school to provide a dairy-free school lunch.
Approach #2) Protein and Fat are great friends here.
Another way to maximize night time blood sugars is to have your child eat 5-10 almonds or a teaspoon of peanut butter right before bed. Be sure to brush after these last minute protein snacks. Any nut or nut butter will do but keep carbohydrates out of it. Minimal sugar, no crackers or bread, etc. The protein is the most important component but the balance is best.
– Few bites of steak with butter
– Piece of bacon
– Spoonful of tuna fish with mayo
The combination of approach #1 & approach #2 will give you the best chances of eliminating bed wetting. Expect noticeable improvement in 3-5 days.
Reason G) Significant Sensitivities or Allergies.
Some kids wet the bed from a reaction to a food allergy or strong sensitivity. I have seen Wheat/Gluten, Pork, Bananas and lemons just to name a few. Also I have seen environmental allergies cause bedwetting like horse hair, plant fertilizer or carpet cleaner. These are generally pretty rare but is much more difficult to diagnose and to treat as the reaction can take a few days to show up and has to be removed for several weeks for results.
If your child is wetting the bed from a food allergy, you will benefit from a food allergy test and an environmental questionnaire. Therefore, a saliva food allergy and environmental test might be warranted. Also, only NDs, some Integrative MDs & DOs and some Chiropractors know about these. Much more difficult to find the help you need on this one. Also, the miss-information you will get from mediocre healthcare practitioners is staggering. Their ignorance on this issue can be stunning.