Dr Catherine
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4-7 years

She will wet the bed every night, we never get angry and we want to help her. As she has started to get upset saying she's 'sick of weeing the bed' plus embarrast I guess as she has school camp soon. I was a bed wetter until I was 9 so I understand her feelings. She is a deep sleeper too. I try to wake her up but she won't. She's a healthy little girl, happy, and this is our only concern but we want to help. Do you suggest a doctor or just wake her up to help her body realise she needs to goto the toilet? She got up so quickly to get up and goto the toilet and did a poop so her brain is functioning to wake up to do a poo but just not a wee?? I'll get some night lights as well as she is scared of the dark. She still comes into bed with us at about 3am but we don't mind as we've always been co sleepers. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Kind Regards.

Managing children’s bedwetting can be incredibly tricky, partily because we often do not understand the underlying cause and partly because there are so many mixed messages out there about how best to proceed. There is quite a strong genetic link to bedwetting so it is not unusual to find a number of individuals in the same family experiencing nighttime incontinence. When genetics plays a role we generally find that children achieve continence around a similar age to when their family member stopped wetting the bed. The option for you is to wait and let her outgrow this on her own or introduce more formal measures to help her to stop. Given her bedwetting is beginning to impact negatively on her and may start to restrict her social activities, like attending sleepovers, I would certainly look into introducing more formal meausres. Avoid any ‘home grown’ interventions like lifting or waking her. Unfortunately strategies like lifting at night do very little to help children to stop wetting. By far the most effective means of treating children’s bedwetting is the conditioning alarm. Conditioning alarms are designed to wake-up your daughter when she begins to wet. The conditioning approach is based on the theory that by repetitively waking a child at the time of urination the child becomes conditioned into recognising that urination is about to occur. This method requires a great deal of commitment on behalf of the family, as parents need to take initial responsibility in ensuring their child wakes in response to the alarm. Treatment can take up to 6 months, with about a third of children experiencing relapse. If this occurs you need to reintroduce the alarm, with most children being treated in a much shorter period of time. It is important to discuss this with your GP first as the more guidance you receive the better the outcomes. There are also different forms of alarms. One is a body alarm with a small sensor that can be worn inside your daughter’s pyjamas. The second type of alarm is a bell and pad alarm that is placed like a mat over the bottom sheet. This is connected to an alarm box placed at the end of the bed. Alarms can be purchased online but can also be hired. A helpful point of contact is the Continence Association of Australia (1800 330 066) who has a free helpline and will be able to provide advice of specific products. In the meantime, continue to reassure her that this is in no way her fault and that with some help she will become dry. The more support and encouragement she receives, the better she will feel about the situation. All the best! Regards, Dr Cathrine