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Bed wetting (baby and infant)

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Bed wetting (baby and infant)


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Urinary tract
The successful use of a potty or toilet is regarded by many parents as a major milestone in their baby's development. Not only is it taken as a sign that the baby is developing normally but it comes with the relief from frequent nappy changes and from the expense of buying or washing nappies.

However, just because your infant is dry during the day do not be too quick to assume that she/he will also be dry at night. While most babies will be dry during the day by the age of 2 years, it may not be until the age of 5 years that they are dry during the night. Night time bladder control takes longer to develop than day time bladder control.

Consequently, in babies and infants, bed wetting is not a problem. In fact, it only becomes noticeable when you try to let your child sleep without a nappy. It requires no intervention at all except for all little patience to keep the child in nappies just that bit longer.

Beyond the nappy phase, bed wetting or nocturnal enuresis is a common childhood problem. Although most children gain night time control of urine from about 2 to 5 years of age, occasional accidents do happen even up to 12 years of age. In the UK over half a million children aged 5-12 years regularly wet the bed every year. The problem is more common in boys than girls. This should not cause concern unless it is happening frequently (see bed wetting in Children section).
Night time bladder control takes a long time to develop. Several factors are involved, including the development of the nerves and muscles that help control the storage of urine in the bladder, the hormonal control of the production of urine during the night and the nerve pathways from the bladder that help the brain sense when the bladder is full.

Gradually, as your baby grows these systems develop and your child will be able to 'hold on' until morning or will wake to go to the toilet in the night.

Boys are a little slower to develop night time control than girls but, by the age of 3, about three quarters of boys and girls will be dry at night.
Children who wet the bed do not exhibit any symptoms, they simply wet the bed and their pyjamas.
Bed wetting in babies and infants is not a problem and therefore requires no medical treatment.

Be patient with your child. Do not be too quick to leave nappies off at night and never be cross with your child for wetting the bed.

As your child gets older and is able to go to the toilet on her/his own, leave a light on so they can see in the dark, and move objects from their path to ensure that they do not trip and fall during the night.
When to consult your pharmacist
Speak to your pharmacist if you are concerned about your child wetting the bed. Although no treatment is necessary, the pharmacist will be able to reassure you that there is nothing to worry about.

Your pharmacist will also be able to provide night-time nappies, waterproof sheets or waterproof pants which will help reduce your workload.
When to consult your doctor
If your baby or infant shows signs of distress when passing urine, or if you are worried about her/him in any way, always see your doctor.
Useful Tips
  • Do not assume that your baby or infant will be dry at night just because he/she is dry during the day
  • Use night time nappies
  • As your infant get older, experiment by leaving nappies off some nights
  • Ensure infants have easy and clear access to the toilet at night
  • Encourage a good level of fluid intake throughout the day
  • Be patient

    Based on information supplied by: Enuresis Resource and Information Centre
    Freephone: 0117 960 3060
    Supplied by:

Reviewed on 29/09/2009