Practical Suggestions for Bedwetting Away From HomeBy Howard J. Bennett, MD
Nighttime routines make things easier for everyone. Setting up predictable times for dinner, playtime, baths and reading books gives children a sense of what will happen as they get ready for bed. The same thing holds for kids who are daytime trained but still wetting at night. If a child wears GoodNites Bedtime Pants, keep them in the same place so he can put them on himself. Similarly, it’s a good idea if kids go to sleep at roughly the same time every night and pee right before you turn out the lights.
Lots of things can affect a child’s daily schedule: sleepovers, camp and family vacations. If you have a child who is daytime trained but still wets the bed, it takes some extra planning for these events to proceed smoothly. Although it may take extra planning, kids can still have fun and should be encouraged to participate in these events.
There is no set age when kids start going to sleepovers, but some do it as early as first or second grade. If your child isn’t keeping her bedwetting a secret, sleepovers are easy. She simply arrives at her friend’s house with her pajamas, toothbrush, a change of clothes and her GoodNites.
Bedwetting is normal and very common, so parents don’t need to keep their child’s bedwetting a secret if their child doesn’t feel the need. If they do, the situation can be trickier. My daughter wet the bed until she was ten and didn’t tell her friends about it. But she never missed a sleepover because of bedwetting. Our plan was simple. Molly always took an overnight bag to her sleepovers. She kept her GoodNites at the bottom of the bag inside a plastic kitchen bag. When it was time for bed, she went to the bathroom to change and wore her GoodNites underneath a pair of baggy shorts. She would then get into bed or her sleeping bag for the night. Early the next morning, the parent who was hosting the event would wake Molly before the other kids. This gave her time to go to the bathroom, remove her GoodNites and put it in the plastic bag. The parent threw the bag away, and Molly waited for everyone to get up.
The people who work at camps want it to be a positive experience for kids. The following example is one of the ways to make camp a success for kids with bedwetting.
One of my patients attended a 2-week sleep away camp a few years ago. The counselor knew Henry wet the bed and told him about the plan before he got to his bunk. When the counselor first met the kids, he announced that he would wake them each morning so they could shower before the day’s activities began. He explained that they were going to pick straws to determine the order in which the kids would be woken up. Henry picked first and got the short straw, which meant he was the one who’d be woken up first. Henry acted disappointed, but the drawing had been “fixed,” and he knew he’d be the one getting up first. This was so he would have time to go to the bathroom and get rid of his GoodNites in private. The counselor acted as his lookout to make sure everything went smoothly. No one found out Henry wet the bed.
When kids go on vacation, they may wet the bed more or less than they normally do. Factors that can reduce the incidence of wetting include going to bed later and getting up early to start their day. Factors that can increase the wetting include eating and drinking late into the evening and being exhausted from the day’s activities. Each child is different, so keep an eye on things to see if your child’s pattern changes or not.
When families go on vacation, they sleep in hotels, a rental house or in a camping environment where everyone uses a sleeping bag at night. Although each of these situations is different, they can all be easily managed by using GoodNites. If you’re going on vacation with another family, decide which parent will wake the bedwetting child before his friends or cousins get up.
If the circumstances for sleeping away from home are too complicated to use GoodNites, talk to your doctor about using medication to help your child. The prescription medicine, desmopressin, isn’t a cure for bedwetting, but it controls nighttime wetting in most children. Although desmopressin is safe, all drugs have potential side effects, so make sure you review this carefully with the doctor.
In conclusion, sleeping away from home requires more planning if your child wets the bed. But there is no reason to restrict your child from engaging in these socially important events.