Bigger Kids

Ask Dr. Dina: How can my kid prevent bedwetting at camp?

Is your child scared of wetting the bed at camp this summer? Dr. Dina Kulik suggests preventative strategies to try before he leaves.

Ask Dr. Dina: How can my kid prevent bedwetting at camp?

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My kid is heading off to sleep-away camp this summer. He’s worried he might have an accident (he does occasionally wet the bed). Any advice on how my kid can prevent bedwetting?

Though most kids are toilet trained between two and four years of age, many continue to have trouble staying dry through the night. Wetting the bed (the medical term for it is nocturnal enuresis) occurs in about 40 percent of three-year-olds, 20 percent of five-year-olds and one percent of 10-year-olds. Boys are much more likely to have an issue with this than girls, especially if they are deep sleepers. I’ve found the condition also runs in families.

For most kids, enuresis is simply a result of delayed maturation of the brain’s control of the bladder. In these cases, time and patience eventually lead to nighttime dryness. For others, new stressors, such as illness, bullying or other life changes can lead to accidents. Constipation is also a common contributor to bedwetting.

There are a few strategies you can try in the lead-up to camp. I suggest avoiding drinking (especially caffeinated beverages) two hours before bedtime. Encourage your kid to go to the washroom before bed; you may also consider taking your child to the bathroom before you go to bed. Bedwetting alarms have also helped many of my patients prevent bedwetting: The device senses when the child begins to pee and triggers a buzzer, which wakes him up.

There are also a number of medications, such as desmopressin, that can help with overnight dryness. I tend to avoid this medicine for long-term use (it can disrupt the body’s balance of salt and water), though it can be effective for special events like camp and sleepovers. Have your child take the medication at home first, to be sure there’s no adverse reaction. Rest assured that the vast majority of these kids will stay dry overnight within a few years.

This article was originally published on May 29, 2017

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