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Emma Sterland
BY Emma Sterland

10 Tips To Manage Bed-wetting For Your Child With Special Needs

Bed-wetting is a frustrating, yet extremely common problem amongst children with special needs. For many, the issue continues into adulthood, making life very stressful for parents and carers.

While some children do grow out of bedwetting, it can take time and there may be relapses. Illness, changes in routine, sensory issues, house or school moves – can all lead to a recurrence of the problem.

The key to handling bedwetting is to love and support your child throughout the situation. Always reinforce that it is not their fault, and never punish. Getting angry will only increase your child’s anxiety and stress, which is more likely to make the problem worse.

The following tips have been contributed to Scope by parents of children and adults with special needs. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, they may give you some ideas to try … and, at the very least, reassure you that you’re not alone!

1. Clear Instructions

Make sure you give clear instructions at bedtime like: “What do you do if you need to make?” …“Get out of bed and go to the toilet.” I think my daughter was genuinely confused before and thought she was not supposed to get out of bed, even to use the toilet.

2. Bed Protection

I put two waterproof sheets on the bed, so when my son wets I can gently peel the sheet away without making him get up, so he goes back to sleep more easily.

3. Absorb the smell and mess

Sprinkle baking soda on a wet mattress and it will not only absorb the smell, it will soak up the wet too. Leave it on the wet patch for as long as you can and then vacuum off.

4. Washing Ideas

I can’t get a thick winter duvet into my washing machine, which is a problem when it gets soiled. But I’ve found that if I put two thin duvets together they’re as warm as a thick one, and I can wash them separately.

5. The Less Clothes the More Control

I’ve found that if my son goes to bed with minimal clothes on, he is less likely to wet the bed. Our respite help have found the same. Presume the sensation of control is better.

6. Bed Pads

Disposable bed pads are really expensive. Puppy training pads from a pet shop work just as well!

7. More Fluids

My 10 yr old has regressed many times with his toileting skills. Contrary to the usual advice, our incontinence nurse told us to increase our son’s fluid intake. Apparently if the bladder is not stretched it will lead to more accidents.

8. Spinal Galant Reflex

Bed-wetting can sometimes be a symptom of a retained spinal galant reflex. It’s worth trying the Angels in the Snow exercise. It took about 6 months, but it worked for my son.

9. No Caffeine & Sugar

Don’t give hot cocoa before bedtime. Caffeine causes excessive urination. The combination of caffeine and sugar is not good for sensitive bladders.

10. Conveen

We use a conveen which has totally solved the bed-wetting problem for us. Works like a sheath (on boys/men), attached to a tube so the urine flows into a bag.

Tell us how you manage(d) your child’s bed-wetting in the comments below.

Image Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov

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Emma Sterland

Written on September 5, 2012 by:

Emma Sterland helps run the online community at Scope, a national UK-based disability charity, offering support for disabled people and their families. All the tips used in this post were contributed by members of the online community, and can be seen in the tips section of the community .

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