Go to page content

Oops, They Did It Again! Help Your Kids Overcome Bedwetting

Published | 6 min read

Bedwetting can be a very upsetting part of growing up for your child. Follow these tips to help your little one overcome this nocturnal oopsie.

Little boy covering his face in embarrassment while lying in bed

Bedwetting can be very embarrassing for your child. In some cases, it can be so distressing that parents get stressed too! Learn more about bedwetting and how to help your little one get through this part of growing up.

Causes of Bedwetting 

Bedwetting or nocturnal enuresis is the accidental and involuntary passing of urine during sleep. It is common in young children who are still developing their bladder control. Common and possible causes of bed wetting include: 

  • Bladder size: Having a smaller-than-normal bladder. 
  • Genetics: One or both parents have a history of bedwetting. 
  • Sleeping habits: Being a deep sleeper to the point of not waking up to urinate. 
  • Sleep apnoea: A condition in which the child’s breathing is interrupted during sleep 
  • Hormones: Having low levels of vasopressin hormone, suppressing urine production during sleep. Your doctor may recommend some medications to help with this. 
  • Diet: Consuming diuretic drinks (such as caffeinated or carbonated beverages) before bedtime causes more frequent urination. 
  • Gastrointestinal: Chronic constipation can sometimes cause the involuntary passing of urine. 
  • An underlying condition: Medical conditions such as a urinary tract infection, abnormal urinary tract structure, or diabetes can impair bladder control. 
  • Stress or trauma: Increased stress levels caused by recent changes such as moving to a new town, changing schools, divorce, or death in the family. 

Steps to Help Your Little One Overcome Bedwetting 

A father potty training his young son in the toilet
Developing the ability to sense a full bladder correctly can take some time for some children.

Most young children stop bedwetting between three and five years old. Consult your paediatrician if you see unusual symptoms like pain during urination, discoloured urine, or a sudden change in mood. Otherwise, here are some tips to help your little one get through the night. 

Assure them that they are loved and safe 

Understand that bedwetting is a normal part of childhood. Then, share that understanding with your child. If you have other children, encourage them to be supportive of their siblings. 

Make it easier to deal with the leakage 

Use a waterproof layer under bedsheets to prevent urine from seeping into the mattress. Involve your child in changing the bedsheets to help them feel a sense of control. However, never do this as punishment. Consider moving your child’s bed closer to the bathroom in case they wake up in time to run to the bathroom. 

Avoid drinks near bedtime, especially diuretics 

Minimise fluids closer to bedtime. Avoid fizzy or caffeinated drinks, as these are diuretics. Be sure to keep your child sufficiently hydrated throughout the day.

Try a bedwetting alarm 

This is a gadget worn by your child with a sounding or vibrating alarm. The sensors will detect moisture in their underwear and trigger the alarm when your child urinates during sleep. The goal is to train them to wake up and finish urinating, eventually avoiding bedwetting altogether. 

TCM Views and Remedies on Bedwetting

A body lies on his tummy while an adult massages his upper back
Tuina massage, herbs, and acupuncture can help address bedwetting

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a different but complementary view of bedwetting. According to TCM physician Lim Sock Ling, bedwetting in young toddlers is acceptable. But bedwetting arises when the bladder is not functioning optimally in children above three years old. This is caused by a disharmony of the Lungs, Spleen, and Kidneys organ systems and water metabolism. 

“The most common cause of bedwetting in children is Kidney Qi (vital energy) Deficiency. The condition is commonly seen in children who were premature babies, were born as twins, and had a family history of bedwetting. Other causes include Spleen-Lung Qi Deficiency (usually arises after illness), Damp-Heat in the Liver meridians (usually arises in children who are short-tempered and impatient), or simply habitual,” Physician Lim explains in detail. 

Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and tuina massage 

Physician Lim shares a study on acupuncture conducted by the Department of Paediatrics of the Affiliated Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine of Capital University of Medical Sciences in Beijing, China. Researchers found acupuncture and herbal medicine effective in treating children with bedwetting and other forms of involuntary urination.

A few acupoints to work on are bai hui (DU20, 百会), shen men (HT7, 神门), san yin jiao (SP6, 三阴交), qi hai (REN6, 气海), guan yuan (REN4, 关元), zhong ji (REN3, 中极), and shui dao (ST28, 水道).

“In a comparison of treatment modalities, the researchers discovered that combining acupuncture with herbal medicine created a synergistic medicinal effect and a higher curative effective rate,” she reveals.

You can work with your TCM practitioner to find the right herbal formulation for your child. Some formulations include the following: 

  • Kidney Qi Deficiency: Dodder seed powder (tu si zi, 菟丝子散) or Wu Zi Yan Zong pills (五子衍宗丸) 
  • Spleen-Lung Qi Deficiency: Bu Zhong Yi Qi soup (补中益气汤) and Suo Quan pills (缩泉丸)  
  • Damp-Heat in the Liver meridian: Long Dan Xie Gan soup (龙胆泻肝汤) 

A study published in 2017 in Pediatrics International looked at 369 children with nocturnal enuresis. It revealed that the TCM herbal formulation Suo Quan combined with the hormonal drug desmopressin worked better than the drug alone to improve the condition. 

Tuina massage is another TCM modality that can help. A recent 2022 study involving 12 randomised clinical trials across 1,007 children demonstrated that tuina alone or in combination with acupuncture and herbs could significantly improve the total effective rate of enuresis in children.

One way to do this is to massage the bai hui acupoint with your thumb. Stroking the inner surface of either hand’s little finger may help invigorate the Kidneys. Likewise, you can activate the san guan acupoint by using the inner surface of the index and middle fingers to stroke the midline of the forearm towards the Heart.

Bladder control is a skill that young toddlers learn as they mature and leave babyhood. It’s common for bedwetting to occur as they go through this normal transition. Know that it is all part of raising your child to be the wonderful human they are. Fortunately, there are both Western medicine and TCM solutions that you can rely on.

References

  1. MyHEALTH, Ministry of Health, Malaysia. 2012. Bedwetting. [online] Available at: <http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/bedwetting/> [Accessed 20 September 2022]
  2. Cleveland Clinic. 2019. Bedwetting. [online] Available at: <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15075-bedwetting> [Accessed 20 September 2022]
  3. PositiveParenting.org. 2018. Mummy, I Wet My Bed…. [online] Available at: <https://mypositiveparenting.org/2018/09/28/mummy-i-wet-my-bed/> [20 September 2022]
  4. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. 2022. Using a Bed-wetting Alarm. [online] Available at: <https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/u/bedwetting-alarm> [20 September 2022]
  5. HealthyChildren.org. 2021. Bedwetting: 3 Common Reasons & What Families Can Do. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/toilet-training/Pages/Bedwetting.aspx> [20 September 2022]
  6. Pediatrics International. 2017. Effect of traditional Chinese and Western Medicine on Nocturnal Enuresis in Children and Its Influencing Factors: A Randomized Controlled Trial. [online] Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319624950_Effect_of_traditional_Chinese_and_Western_Medicine_on_Nocturnal_Enuresis_in_Children_and_Its_Influencing_Factors_A_Randomized_Controlled_Trial> [20 September 2022]
  7. Frontiers in Public Health. 2022. Tuina for Enuresis in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. [online] Available at: <https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2022.821781/full> [20 September 2022]
  8. HealthCMi. 2014. Acupuncture and Herbs Halt Bedwetting. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1347-acupuncture-and-herbs-halt-bedwetting> [20 September 2022]

Share this article on

Was This Article Useful to You?

Want more healthy tips?

Get All Things Health in your mailbox today!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related Articles

Coloured wood blocks spelling out ‘ADHD’
Parenthood
December 14, 2021 | 6 min read

Quiz: Find Out If Your Child Has ADHD or ASD

ADHD and ASD share similar symptoms. Identifying ways that enable a child to cope with either disorder can ensure optimal growth.

Read More
Boy closing his mouth with both hands.
Parenthood
January 15, 2023 | 7 min read

Different Ways to Complement Speech Delay Therapy

A child’s inability to communicate can stem from multiple factors. Speech delay therapy can be combined with other treatments to improve the difficulty in a holistic way.

Read More
Toddler in a highchair playing with a wooden toy car
Parenthood
February 25, 2022 | 5 min read

Child Development: A Guide to the First 7 Years

Parents play an important role in child development. Discover the different milestones your little one should hit during the various growth stages.

Read More
Woman breastfeeding her child
Parenthood
January 15, 2022 | 5 min read

5 Nursing Myths Busted: Here Are the Real Benefits of Breastfeeding

There are many benefits of breastfeeding. However, myths surrounding this process can potentially prevent mothers from nursing their babies. This article debunks those myths and highlights the real advantages of breastfeeding.

Read More
Little girl wearing glasses smiles and points to her brain.
Parenthood
January 14, 2023 | 5 min read

6 Foods to Boost Your Child's Brain Function

Healthy brain function relies on a healthy body. Support your child’s intellectual development by supporting her nutrition with these foods.

Read More

The contents of the All Things Health website are for informational and educational purposes only.
Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.