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Bedwetting is one of the most common medical issues affecting under-18s© Tara Moore,Getty Images

Dr Ranj Singh reveals why you shouldn't stay silent if your child is wetting the bed

Around half a million young children and teenagers wet the bed in the UK – here's what you can do to help your child

Kate Lockett
Beauty and Lifestyle Editor
July 8, 2024
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It’s rarely talked about, but around half a million young children and teenagers wet the bed in the UK – and the numbers are increasing, stopping youngsters from enjoying everyday activities such as sleepovers with their friends. Determined to help children and their parents, author, presenter and paediatric specialist Dr Ranj Singh has teamed up with Pampers Ninjamas, pants that look and feel like underwear but offer all-night protection from leaks.

“Bed-wetting is a really common occurrence,” Dr Ranj, 44, tells HELLO!. "So many parents suffer in silence, but you don’t have to manage this by yourself. Ask for help. That’s why I’m working with Ninjamas – they’re a means for your little one to feel more confident."

We spoke to Ranj as he shares his tips on tackling bed-wetting, his advice for parents and how he looks after his own wellbeing.

Dr Ranj © Paul Madeley
Dr Ranj tackles the taboo of bed-wetting

Ranj, why does bed-wetting happen?

"It could be because children’s bladders don’t stretch enough. If it can’t stretch, it gets rid of some wee in the form of bed-wetting. Secondly, if your child is producing too much urine because they’ve drunk too much too close to bedtime, or their body is struggling to concentrate their urine. Thirdly, they don’t respond to thesignals their bladder is sending to their brain in the middle of the night. In children, that connection isn’t always mature, especially if they’re very young.

"There is also a small proportion of children who have an underlying medical problem – anything from a urine infection through to the first sign of type 1 diabetes. Constipation is also a cause of bed-wetting, because your bladder can’t empty properly. “It can be made worse by changes in routine. Changing schools can be a time when they bed-wet more often. Or if they’re going for a sleepover at somebody’s house. It’s that unfamiliarity. If they’re nervous or worried about something, it makes it more likely to happen."

What can parents and carers do to help?

"Firstly, have a conversation with your child and remind them that it’s not their fault and they are by no means alone. For the vast majority, it’s a temporary thing. There is a solution to it and you can work together to find out what’s going on. While you’re finding the underlying cause, be prepared. There are things out there to help and Pampers Ninjamas area safety blanket for your child. They look and feel like normal pants, so they can feel a bit more confident.

"It’s associated with so much embarrassment and stigma – it makes me sad that over 80 per cent of kids who experience bed-wetting have never attended a sleepover due to embarrassment. Half of parents don’t know how to deal with bed-wetting, but one of the things they can also do is talk to whoever is looking after the child at the sleepover and pre-warn them that it might happen, but centre it around the child. “We’ve created a couple of YouTube videos with Pampers Ninjamas, delivering some child and parent-friendly advice about bed-wetting and things parents and carers can do."

When should parents seek medical advice?

"Current guidelines say that if your child is bed-wetting over the age of five, speak to a healthcare professional. Under-fives is not unusual – it can be a normal part of development as the brain and bladder are maturing. Over the age of five, it could be that they haven’t got the hang of staying dry, but it’s important to have that discussion to make sure nothing else is going on.

"If you’ve tried simple interventions at home that aren’t working and it’s new or been going on for longer than six months, it’s always worth a chat. If your child is wetting during the day, that’s very unusual and we’d want to know about it and if your child’s got any other symptoms associated with it. Keeping a wee diary – how frequently it’s happening, little or large amounts, the pattern – is really helpful for us."

What are your top tips to help young children and teenagers ease anxiety?

"Make a list of the things they can and can’t change and focus on what they can change. “Movement and activityare great ways of burning off nervous energy in kids and teenagers. Get out and do whatever activity you can. Relaxation exercises also diffuse that energy – colouring in, doing mindfulness or breathing exercises.

"If your child is struggling with those feelings, speak to a healthcare professional, because you’re not alone in this. This is something we are seeing more and more of and it’s manifested in so many ways."

Do you have any advice to help at bedtime?

"Routines are really important for kids. Have a consistent sleep and wake time, if you can – that helps your child sleep better. Part of that routine should be going for a wee before bed. Avoid drinking in the hour before bed and reduce caffeinated drinks for older kids.

"However, it’s important for them to drink plenty during the day as it trains and stretches your bladder so it gets better at holding wee. Also, think about the environment in which your child is sleeping. If they are bed-wetting, are there things you can do to minimise the distress? Waterproof bedding, mattress covers and Pampers Ninjamas pants in case they have an accident. Have a debrief with them, too. As part of a bedtime story, depending on their age, ask: ‘How was your day? Is anything stressing you out at the moment?’ Try and diffuse that nervous energy. It could have a knock-on effect and reduce the chances of bed-wetting."

How do you look after your own wellbeing?

"I keep things simple and get the basics right: eat, sleep and move. I eat a varied, healthy diet, but I also allow myself to have treats. I love food and make sure not to eat junk food all the time, but occasionally, cake for breakfast is absolutely fine! All within moderation and being sensible. I tend to go to bed later than I would want to and work quite late, as my day schedule is very hectic. I have a wind-down period before I go to bed and try to avoid my phone. I have a book by my bed if I’m tempted to look at something. My sleep environment has what I call ‘the three Cs, two Ds and one Q’ – the place you sleep should be cool, calm and comfortable; dark and dry; and also quiet."

Do you stay active?

"I hate the word exercise – it sounds like you need to go to a gym or do something gruelling. I’m finding as I get older, it’s harder to get movement in because life’s hectic, you body changes and you cant do what you used to do when you were 20. “Dancing is my go-to form of exercise. If I can combine music and movement, that’s the perfect way to get my physical activity in. I became a spin instructor just after we got out of lockdown because I love doing spin classes, but I’ll do anything, from Zumba to dance lessons. 

"I like getting outside into a green space, whacking in my headphones, with a podcast or music, and walking. I’ve bought a place up north in the countryside that I’m renovating, so it’s much easier to get out because it’s surrounded by greenery. “I’m a fan of incidental exercise, too – taking the stairs, not the lift, and walking part of your journey to and from work."

DISCOVER: I’m a parenting coach: Here are my top 10 tips for a stress-free family holiday 

What is the key to a happy, healthy lifestyle?

"Manage stress as much as you can and deal with anxiety, which a lot of us have. Think about your use of social media – it has positive benefits, but also a negative effect as well. I’m an advocate for showing kindness to others and to yourself. Self-care is not selfish, it’s self-preservation and survival. Finally, recognise everyone is human, no one is perfect and the best thing you can do is to ask for help."

Pampers Ninjamas and Dr Ranj YouTube educational content series on bedwetting can be found here.

The £3.50 off Ninjamas coupon, which can be redeemed by downloading the Pampers Club App (T&Cs Apply) can be found here.

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