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The 10 dos and don'ts to improve chances of a dry night

A practical checklist to help parents with bedwetting children.

A parent giving a child a glass of water while the child reads a book before bed. Image: Dall-E


1. Encourage your child to drink adequately during the day 

Do: Ensure your child drinks enough fluids throughout the day. This helps to keep the bladder functioning properly and prevents the bladder from being overly full at night. Aim for water as the primary beverage and distribute fluid intake evenly from morning to late afternoon.

Don't: Allow your child to drink large amounts of fluid right before bedtime. This can increase the likelihood of bedwetting.

2. Encourage your child to use the toilet at regular intervals throughout the day

Do: Encourage regular toilet breaks every 2-3 hours. This trains the bladder to empty regularly and reduces the chance of accidents. Remind your child to go to the toilet after meals and before activities where a toilet might not be easily accessible.

Don't: Let your child hold their urine for too long. This can lead to bladder overdistension and increase the risk of bedwetting.

3. Make sure your child doesn’t drink any drinks that contain caffeine

Do: Eliminate or significantly reduce caffeine intake as caffeine is a diuretic and can increase urine production. This includes not only coffee and tea but also many sodas and energy drinks. 

Don't: Assume that “decaffeinated” means “no caffeine.” Some decaffeinated drinks still contain small amounts of caffeine.

4. Keep a diary of your child's toilet habits (urine and stool frequency) 

Do: Maintain a diary that records when and how often your child urinates and has bowel movements. This can help identify patterns and potential triggers for bedwetting. It also aids healthcare providers in offering targeted advice.

Don't: Forget to note any significant changes or events that might affect your child’s habits, such as illness or changes in routine.

BEFORE BED (in the hour before sleep) 

5. Reduce your child's tendency to eat unnecessary snacks  

Do: Limit snacking before bed, especially sugary or salty snacks, as these can increase thirst and subsequent fluid intake. Aim for a balanced diet with the last meal or snack at least an hour before bedtime, if not more. 

Don't: Allow heavy meals or large snacks right before bed. This can lead to discomfort and increased fluid intake.

6. Limit your child to only drinking fluids when thirsty

Do: Encourage your child to listen to their body’s signals and only drink when they are genuinely thirsty in the evening. Opt for sips of water if necessary.

Don't: Provide large quantities of fluids as part of the bedtime routine, which can fill the bladder overnight.

7. Make sure your child goes to the toilet

Do: Establish a habit of using the toilet right before bed. This ensures the bladder is as empty as possible, reducing the chance of bedwetting.

Don't: Skip this step, even if your child claims they don’t need to go. Making it a part of the routine can be helpful.

8. Try to make bedtime a calm moment 

Do: Create a calming bedtime environment. This can include reading a book, listening to soft music or engaging in a quiet activity. Reducing stress and anxiety can help with bladder control.

Don't: Engage in stimulating or stressful activities right before bed, such as TV shows or video games.

9. Try to have a bedtime routine 

Do: Establish a consistent bedtime routine. Predictable routines can help signal to your child’s body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep, which can include a final bathroom visit.

Don't: Be inconsistent with bedtime routines. Irregular schedules can disrupt your child’s internal clock and bladder habits.

10. Try a few nights without putting on night-time pants or nappies 

Do: If your child is ready, try a few nights without night-time pants or nappies. This can motivate them to stay dry and get up if they need to use the toilet. Use a waterproof mattress cover to protect the bed.

Don't: Rush this step if your child is not ready. Forcing the issue can lead to anxiety and setbacks. It’s important to balance encouragement with patience.

By following these practical tips, parents can help their children develop healthier habits and improve their chances of having dry nights. Consistency and patience are key, as every child progresses at their own pace.

At Pee Paediatric Services (PeePS), we know that early intervention is vital. We offer support and advice to children from 5 - 17 years of age. If you need some support, get in touch with us for a FREE, 15-minute discovery call today.

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