Bed Wetting and Back to School

5 Min Read | By Nicholas Barber

Last Modified 31 March 2023   First Added 21 September 2021

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

Adjusting to a new bedtime and morning routine as a new school year begins can be tough for your kids. You’re busy mastering the balance of life and your little one has started bed wetting. This is totally normal. There are a few reasons why your child may have started wetting the bed. It could be something as simple as diet, avoiding school toilets, or maybe they’re just deep sleepers. No matter what the reason is, you’re not alone.

Let’s find out what causes bed wetting and how to keep your little one dry and happy.

What causes bed wetting?

Here are three main reasons why your little one’s bed wetting may have recently restarted:

Avoiding school toilets

A lot of children don’t like using the toilets in schools. Not liking toilets often means avoiding them altogether. This can result in bladder and bowel issues. If their bowel is full of poo it can press into the bladder and limit space for wee. This could in turn have the effect of bed wetting. If this is the case, don’t worry, some children just need extra time to develop control of their bladder.

Not getting enough sleep or sleeping deeply

Children whose sleep is disturbed and those who are deep sleepers are more likely to wet the bed. A deep-sleeping child may have a harder time developing an effective signaling system that wakes them up when they need to wee. As we mentioned previously, try not to worry, as some children just need more time. Bedwetting should naturally stop as they grow up.

Related: Kid’s Beds

Stress or life changes

Along with going back to school, other big life changes can easily activate bed wetting. Maybe a recent moving house or the birth of a new sibling. Any of these things can be stressors that can lead to children wetting the bed after being dry for a long period. Research shows that children who experience bed wetting are significantly more likely to have anxiety issues.

According to the Sleep Foundation, children who struggle with bedwetting are more likely to experience panic attacks, school phobia, social anxiety, and separation anxiety.

Why is your child more likely to wet the bed at the start of term?

For the period following the start of a new school year, your child’s changing sleep patterns and schedules can seriously disrupt their previous routines. Starting or going back to school can trigger bed wetting to start, long after you thought it had been conquered.

On top of this, your child may be overtired from a full, busy day and just not getting the signal from their brain that wakes them up when their bladder is full and needs to be emptied. With starting or going back to school, they may be more tired than normal and not wake up when they need to go.

Diet and wetting the bed

Eating a high-salt diet, not emptying the bladder at night, and drinking fluids right up until bedtime are some of the things your child may be doing which are causing the bed wetting.

Dietary changes have also been linked to wetting the bed and the NHS advises you not to give your child drinks containing caffeine, such as cola, tea, or coffee. Certain foods and drinks are diuretics, which means that they cause the body to produce more urine. Some children are more sensitive to diuretics than others which can lead to wetting the bed.

How to stop bed wetting

Here are some tried and tested methods for how to help your child stop wetting the bed. These won’t work for everyone, and that’s ok. Only you know what’s best for you and your children. Refer to this list whenever you need some bed wetting guidance:

  1. Ensure your child has easy access to a toilet at night.
  2. If it’s relevant for your child, find out what they don’t like about the school toilets and encourage their use.
  3. Encourage them to use the bathroom at night, then provide nightlights to make that easier.
  4. Ensure a no joking, or teasing rule with any siblings or other family members. This can make wetting the bed worse

Bed wetting tips for parents

Along with following our methods for helping your little one stay dry. Your children will need a lot of reassurance from you at this time. Here are some tips for parents to stay supportive when bed wetting reoccurs:

  1. Make it a rule to always be supportive of your child. This means not blaming or punishing your child for wetting the bed.
  2. Let your child know that this is curable and provide lots of emotional support. Children aren’t likely to wet the bed on purpose, they will feel low about the situation so lots of support will go a long way.
  3. Ensure they understand wetting the bed isn’t their fault.
  4. Whenever bed wetting accidents do happen, praise your child for trying to stay dry.

How to clean a mattress after bed wetting

A water repellant mattress can help with cleaning up after bed wetting. If your child does wet the bed, we recommend cleaning any spills as quickly as possible with warm, soapy water and a cloth. Remove dust and debris with a soft brush. We don’t recommend using any cleaning products or vacuuming your mattress.

And remember, there’s no need to panic

Hopefully, it will reassure you to know that the majority of cases are not due to anatomical or biological problems. It’s much more likely that bed wetting in children will subside as they adjust to their new school routine.

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