Continence and Toileting

BTH School Nurses LogoBladder and bowel problems in childhood and young people are very common. These problems include difficulties with toilet training, wetting and/or soiling and can affect up to 28% of all children and adolescents at any one time. Younger children are affected more often than older children, but problems can happen at any age. Parents or carers often feel as if their child is the only one suffering.

The following websites have lots of information, top tips and handy guides for you and your child to manage continence issues.  You will also find free helplines to get professional individualised advice.   Please take time to look at the information and be aware that any changes you make may take time to show a positive effect.

Helpful Hints

  • Encourage your child to drink regularly throughout the day, approximately 8 glasses during the day. This helps them recognise the feeling of a full bladder.
  • Avoid fizzy drinks and blackcurrant. Also drinks that contain caffeine, such as tea, coffee and hot chocolate. These irritate the bladder and make it more active. Pure orange juice does this too.
  • Ensure that your child has plenty of fruit, vegetables, and cereals. This will help to avoid constipation which can contribute to bedwetting. If constipation is a problem, please seek advice from your school nurse or GP.
  • Ensure that your child goes to the toilet before going to bed.
  • Your child may be happier with a small night light in the hallway to ensure that they can easily get to the toilet. Make sure that the mattress and bed are adequately protected. Swap the duvet for a warm fleece which can be washed and dried in no time.
  • Allow your child to help with changing the bed and night clothes. It does help if they are actively involved in overcoming the problem.
  • Make sure that your child has a bath or shower each morning. This removes the smell of stale urine and avoids them being teased at school.
  • Encourage your child to come out of nappies, a bed mat under the sheet will absorb most of it but still ensure they are aware of the dampness.
  • Do not use waking/lifting the child as a long term strategy to overcoming bedwetting.
  • Stay calm and try not to worry.
  • Remember, bedwetting is neither the child’s fault nor the parents. Patience, love and encouragement will go a long way to resolving the problem for everyone in the family.

What can I do to help prevent wetting?

Offer evenly spaced drinks throughout the day. Encourage your child to have 2 drinks before they leave for school.  This will teach their bladder to hold more and make their kidneys work harder in the day rather than at night. 

Only offer milk or water after dinner and no drinks for 1 hour before bed. This will mean their kidneys make less wee at night and not fill their bladder. 

Avoid fizzy drinks, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and blackcurrant as these can irritate the bladder and make your child feel like they need to wee more often.

Go to the toilet twice before going to sleep, once when they get ready for bed and once just before they go to sleep. This will make sure the bladder has completely emptied.

Keep a torch near their bed or a light on in the bathroom. This will make it easier for them to get up for a wee in the night.

See the Childrens Bladder and Bowel Service for more details.

If you have any worries, concerns or questions about your child, the School Nurses can help.

You can contact us by phone or email. Click on 'how to contact us' for further details.