Is the Cold Weather Making My Child Wet the Bed?
It’s winter already, which means parkas and snow boots (or at the very least thick sweaters and flannel shirts). As beautiful as pristine, white snow is (especially when you’re looking at it from indoors – preferably with a mug of warm cocoa and a blazing fire nearby), being cold isn’t usually a pleasant experience.
(Pixabay / janamg0)
Being cold in the middle of the night is even worse than being cold during the day – you know, when your feet are freezing and just can’t seem to warm up no matter how thick your socks? There’s something about a dark, quiet house that makes you want to stay under the covers even if you aren’t quite cozy enough to sleep soundly.
You may have noticed that your nighttime-trained child is suddenly having more accidents once that first cold front hits, and you’re not alone! Cold weather seems to contribute to increased bedwetting in even the most seasoned potty-trained kids. Let’s get down to some of the whys behind this unfortunate phenomenon.
Why is my child wetting the bed more often since the weather has turned cold?
There hasn’t been a lot of research on this specific question, but there’s been enough to draw a few conclusions. One particular study is quite detailed and lengthy, but here are the highlights:
- Kids in the study ranged from 6 to 16 years of age
- The study divided the year into warm months (June-September) and cold months (October-December)
- Bedwetting significantly increased in children during the winter months compared to the summer months
- Cold weather appears to reduce bladder capacity and function – it seems that the cold weather makes the bladder contract, which means that it can’t hold as much urine as it can in warm weather
It’s important to note many of the kids also reported lower quality of life in the winter months compared to the summer months. There is a tendency to be cooped up with fewer social and educational opportunities (plus frequent gloomy weather) during the winter months, which may cause lower quality of life.
The bedwetting itself could also be the cause of the lower quality of life, as it can add stress and pressure to a child’s life that can end up being a secondary cause of bedwetting. So is the decreased quality of life causing the bedwetting or resulting from the bedwetting? The data is unclear, but it is an intriguing question to consider.
Other Potential Triggers
The nature and patterns of children can also play a leading role in cold weather bedwetting. These other potential triggers aren’t backed by science, but as you read them, you’ll probably find they make a lot of sense.
- Change: Let’s face it: change is hard – especially for kids. In wintertime, you change your clothes, dressing habits, activities you can do, and even what foods you regularly eat. Outdoor recess suddenly becomes indoor recess, and their feet and hands are frozen by the time they walk home from school when, just a month ago, they were wearing sandals. Change can cause anxiety in kids, and that anxiety can manifest itself in the form of bedwetting.
- Drier Weather: It’s possible that with the colder and drier weather, your child is feeling thirstier than usual. This can cause him to guzzle more water throughout the day and at bedtime, making his bladder overflow in the middle of the night. On the flip side of that, your child could be drinking less water than he needs, leading to constipation, which could also be causing nighttime accidents.
- Barriers to Exit: Even as an adult, you may find yourself needing to use the toilet in the middle of the night and asking, is it really worth it to get out of my warm bed, or could I just hold it until morning? You might even pull your arm out from under the covers to test the air, only to immediately pull it back under, shivering. Kids do the same thing and might decide that it’s too cold to get out of bed, thereby having an accident instead. Additionally, kids might have so many blankets that it’s physically challenging to get out of bed in time to make it to the bathroom.
- Sound Sleeping: The ideal sleeping temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees, and packing on the blankets can compensate for the cooler air temperatures. In the winter, kids generally have more blankets on them anyway, making them sleep even more soundly than they used to. When kids are sleeping too soundly, they may not even feel the urge to urinate and can have an accident without realizing it until morning.
If you have found your child is suddenly struggling with nighttime bedwetting, even though they have been potty-trained for a while now, don’t be alarmed. Bedwetting is a combination of a lot of different factors, and often, the accidents will resolve themselves over time.
The chances are good that if your child is having accidents now that the cold weather has hit, they feel just as miserable about it as you do. Keep being calm and encouraging, and consider using creative products like Peejamas absorbable pajama pants. They’re an alternative to bedwetting alarms and other traditional bedwetting products, which may be a little too heavy-hitting for your (mostly) potty trained child. They absorb urine, but unlike disposable diapers, they leave a slight wet sensation that signals your child to get up and go to the potty. It may be just the gentle nudge your child needs to help them stop the winter bedwetting.