Families With Multiple Bedwetters
Bedwetting is always a challenge for both parent and child, and when Mom and Dad have more than one child wetting the bed, it can become even more difficult to manage. But with a little advice and the knowledge that it commonly runs in families, you'll be well on your way to better mornings.
A Family Affair
Bedwetting is a common occurrence among children and young teens – an occurrence beyond their control. It is even more frequent if one or both parents wet the bed as children. "Studies show that if one parent was a bedwetter, then 40 percent of their children will also wet the bed," says Dr. Michael Ritchey, a pediatric urologist at Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas. "If both parents were bedwetters, then 60 to 70 percent of their children will experience the condition."
So if you or your spouse were once plagued with wet sheets, chances are at least one of your children will experience the same problem. And in some families, enuresis will come in multiple doses, affecting more than one child.
Glynda* has two out of three children who wet the bed. "Both my dad and brother were bedwetters when they were growing up," she says. Karla Giramonti, a nurse practitioner in the Division of Urology at the Albany Medical Center in New York, says she is not surprised that more than one of Glynda's children has enuresis. "I tell parents that if one child wets the bed, chances are the other children will experience the same problem," she says.
However, if you have some children who wet the bed and some who do not, it can be difficult for kids to understand. Hayes says she has trouble trying to explain to her children why two out of three wet the bed. "There tends to be a 'Why us, not him?' mentality," she says.
Though Glynda says her children do not talk to each other about the problem, they are supportive of each other. "They respect each other not to discuss it," she says. "My middle son and daughter have never blabbed that their big brother wets the bed."
Differences in Treatment
Dr. Ritchey explains that treatment for families with multiple bedwetters is no different than if only one child wets the bed. "However, it is usually easier to treat the second child," he says. "Parents tend to be less concerned if an older sibling has already been treated and outgrown the problem."
Siblings may also have varying responses to different treatment methods, such as experiencing different side effects as a result of taking medication. And while there is no universal solution for bedwetting, there are solutions, such as wearing GoodNites® Underpants, that can help parents and kids cope with bedwetting to reduce the stress on everyone until the child outgrows it.
"I'll try anything regardless of past experience," says Giramonti. "I treat each child as a new patient." So what may not work on Big Brother might be the perfect solution for Little Sister.
Sarah* is the mother of two children who wet the bed. "Our son, Alan, who is in elementary school, continues to have trouble staying dry at night," she says. But, she says, her older son outgrew the condition when he was 5.
Why do some children outgrow bedwetting earlier than others? "We don't know why children outgrow bedwetting at different ages," says Giramonti. However, we do know that children are more likely to outgrow bedwetting the older they get. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, bedwetting occurs in 20 percent of 5-year-olds, 10 percent of 6-year-olds and still even 3 percent of 12-year-olds.
If you have multiples, meaning twins or more, you may experience the added challenge of having children of the same age wetting the bed. If the children are identical, sharing the same genetic code, there is an even greater chance they will both wet the bed if one does. Parents of multiples become experts at doing everything several times, and helping children through bedwetting is no exception. Whatever you do for one child, you will do for the other, whether it be limiting fluids at bedtime or taking each to the bathroom before you go to sleep at night.
Jessica*, the mother of identical twin boys, says she has become stronger because of her experience. "I have to be physically and mentally stronger than some of my mom friends who don't have twins who wet the bed," she says. "I physically hoist them out of bed and take them to the bathroom, and I mentally prepare myself to keep their self-esteem strong by constantly explaining that this is a natural thing they are going though and they are OK. It's tiring, but that's my life right now. I know that this, too, will pass!"
One of the toughest challenges Glynda faces is getting support from others. "When the subject comes up with my friends, they look at me with disbelief," she says. "It is as if they think I am doing something wrong to have two bedwetters." Which, of course, is not true. It's important to seek support from people who understand that bedwetting is not anyone's fault, such as other parents with kids who wet the bed. The GoodNites Web site, as well as the GoodNites® Good Mornings Club™, offer several ways to connect with other parents who are going through the same thing.
When you have three kids, laundry is always going to be a challenge, and with more than one waking up to a wet bed, it can become overwhelming. "On the occasion that both my son and daughter have accidents on the same night, it becomes a large amount of laundry to get the beds remade," Glynda says.
To help lighten the laundry load, children can wear absorbent undergarments, such as GoodNites® Underpants, to keep the sheets dry. "Our kids wear disposable undergarments at night," says Amy Devries, mother of two children who wet the bed. She notes that GoodNites® Underpants probably cost the same as doing laundry each day. "It is also less stress for everyone," she says.
* Last name withheld to protect privacy.