Preparing for Vacation with a Bedwetting Child
America is a nation on the go. We love long weekends, vacations and visiting relatives, but taking your bedwetting child on vacation can be problematic.
Lana Taylor Figgs from Westover, Md., knows exactly how worrisome and problematic vacationing with a child who has nighttime enuresis can be. "I have an 8-year-old who still sleeps so soundly she doesn't wake to go to the bathroom," Taylor Figgs says. "In this past year, she's become conscientious about it. When we travel, I always make sure I have waterproof bed pads and her GoodNites®."
The Stress of Traveling
Mary Coonts, a child development specialist with CIGNA Pediatrics, says that traveling with a bedwetting child can be stressful on both the child and the parent.
"There can be a lot of stress with worry that the child will wet in the hotel bed or a bed in a home where they are guests," Coonts says. "Parents also may need to explain about the child's bedwetting to relatives and friends. Extra laundry and bedding may be necessary to take along."
Oftentimes, the systems and routines you use at home are not in place while you travel. This disruption in routine can be stressful for a child who is already sensitive about his bedwetting.
It's important to reassure your child while traveling that no matter what, everything will be OK and taken care of.
"I like to explain that you really can't help what you do in your sleep," Coonts says. "Like a dream, you really can't control it. Most children think they are the only ones with this problem. This is really very common."
Tips for a Stress-free Trip
Dr. Benjamin Danielson, clinic chief and clinical director of Seattle Children's Hospital's Odessa Brown Children's Clinic, agrees that reassuring your child is a priority. "The most important thing is to make your child feel comfortable and safe, because if he doesn't, it can spur bedwetting," Dr. Danielson says. "A child can get extremely embarrassed if it happens and he will likely already feel uncomfortable sleeping in a strange bed. If he has a stuffed animal or a blanket or a nightlight that makes him feel more comfortable, bring it with you."
Dr. Danielson also suggests that parents make it easy for their child to get up during the night to get to the bathroom. Before the child goes to bed, practice walking to the bathroom and show him where the light switches are. "Show your child where you or the adult will be sleeping, and reassure him that if he is scared in the middle of the night, someone in charge is close," Dr. Danielson says. "As long as you, the parent, understand that bedwetting is not your child's fault, it will strongly increase your child's ability to deal with it."
If you are visiting relatives or friends, although it can seem uncomfortable at times, it isn't a bad idea to let them know ahead of time that your child wets the bed. Most adults are understanding, and the news of a wet bed will always go over better if you help with the preparation and cleanup of any such mess.
"Additionally, if your hosts can put your child in his own bed or sleeping bag it can reduce the potential cleanup," Dr. Danielson says. "If you can, it may be wise to bring a plastic mattress cover or sleeping bag liner to prevent damage. Bringing along a spare clean set of sheets and pajamas doesn't hurt either."