Bedwetting and travel planning

Getting ready for a family trip? Plan ahead and think about how you'll handle bedwetting issues when your family is on the road:

  • Your child may be reluctant to travel due to fear of bedwetting, and may feel embarrassed if bedwetting does occur.
  • Depending on how and where you travel, it may be hard to find places to wash clothes and get fresh sheets if bedwetting occurs.
  • Bedwetting treatment options will need to be properly stored and transported (e.g., moisture alarms, medicines).
  • Your child may feel uncomfortable sleeping in a strange bed.

Here are a few simple preparations you can make before your trip:

Talk to your child's doctor. Before your trip, speak with your child's doctor about possible options for managing bedwetting. Treatment options for managing bedwetting include:

  • medications, including desmopressin which works by controlling the amount of urine your bedwetting child produces during sleep so it's similar to that of a non-bedwetting child's volume. This helps prevent the bladder from filling up too quickly.
  • alarms that go off when the child wets the bed, which work by sounding an alarm when your child begins to wet the bed. The goal is to train your child to get up and use the washroom before they wet the bed. Ideally you would need to start this treatment at least two months prior to taking your trip for this device to be effective.
  • other coping techniques, such as family counselling, bladder exercises, encouraging the child to use the toilet before bedtime, reducing the amount of liquids they drink in the evening, making it easy for them to get up in the night for the bathroom, including the child in the morning cleanup, and avoiding punishment for bedwetting.

Some options, such as desmopressin, can be used on a special occasion basis – for things like sleepovers, camp, or vacations. These medications can also be used on an ongoing basis and should be used with non-medication options, such as family counselling and bladder exercises, to help your child with bedwetting. If you and your doctor agree that medication may be an option for your child, your doctor may recommend that your child try the medication for 3-9 days before going on the trip.

Please keep in mind that not all techniques or methods that you use at home are going to be appropriate when your child is away from home. Your doctor can help you choose a bedwetting strategy that's appropriate for your child.

Bring some "just in case" supplies. You may wish to bring a plastic mattress cover or sleeping bag liner to prevent damage if your child wets the bed. Depending on what's available where you're staying, you may also want to bring a spare clean set of sheets and pyjamas. Your child can also bring along a favourite stuffed animal or toy to help them feel more comfortable waking up in a strange bed.

Contact your accommodations ahead of time. Ask for a roll-away bed in your room. This can save your family the anxiety of getting a full hotel bed wet and allow your bedwetting child to have a bed of their own, which can make them feel more comfortable. You can also ask for an extra set of clean sheets to keep in your room. As well, ask about clothes washing facilities that may be available onsite or near the place you'll be staying.

Bring your medications with you. If your child uses medication for bedwetting, it's very important for them to continue treatment even when they're on vacation. Don't forget to bring your child's bedwetting medication with you on the trip. Speak to your pharmacist about how to store it properly. Most medications are sensitive to heat and moisture, and some are also sensitive to light. If your trip involves air travel, be sure to keep the medication in its original, labelled container. Put the medication in your carry-on baggage. Checked baggage may be lost or exposed to more extreme temperatures.

By planning ahead, you and your family can enjoy a great trip. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your doctor.

Bedwetting and visiting relatives

Do your travel plans include a visit to your relatives? If so, you may have some worries on your mind. How can I help my child feel less worried about wetting the bed during the visit, and what should I do if bedwetting happens? What will my relatives say if my child wets the bed during the visit? How can I discreetly get sheets and pyjamas clean?

Fortunately, there are ways to deal with these concerns. Here are some tips on managing bedwetting challenges that may occur during a visit to your relatives:

Considering your treatment options

Before you hit the road, talk to your child's doctor about managing bedwetting. Your doctor can advise you on treatment options and strategies that might be helpful for your child. For more details on the treatment options available, see "Bedwetting and travel planning."

Talking to your relatives about bedwetting

It's also a good idea to get the relatives you'll be visiting "in the loop" before you arrive. Tell them what they can do to help, such as:

  • putting your child in a sleeping area with privacy and easy access to a bathroom
  • having a night-light or flashlight to make it easier for your child to find the bathroom
  • protecting the mattress with a plastic cover (making up the child's bed in advance will spare them some embarrassment)
  • making sure you're familiar with their laundry facilities and how to use them

This is also your chance to correct any misconceptions that relatives may have about bedwetting. Assure them it bedwetting is not the child's fault and the child should not be punished. This will also help ensure that both parents and relatives are sending the child a consistent message about bedwetting.

Helping your child get ready for the visit

Having a plan for how to handle bedwetting can help your child feel less anxious about the visit. Talk to your child about what to do if they wet the bed. Reassure them that it's not their fault, and that you'll be there for them to help take care of it discreetly. Bring an extra set of fresh sheets and pyjamas for your child. If your child uses medication for bedwetting, don't forget to bring it with you. Even away from home, it's very important for them to continue treatment and make sure they understand what it is for and, if they're old enough, how to use it properly. For information about how to properly store the medication while away from home, see "Bedwetting and travel planning."

Please keep in mind that not all techniques or methods that you use at home are going to be appropriate when your child is away from home. To learn more, see "Bedwetting and travel planning."

These tips can help you make sure that bedwetting doesn't get in the way of your family visit. Speak to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

Bedwetting and sleepovers

Preparing for a sleepover can be both exciting and scary for you and your child. If your child sometimes wets the bed, they may feel reluctant to spend the night at a friend's house for fear that the bedwetting will be discovered. They may also feel unsure about how to handle bedwetting if it does happen, and what to say to their friends.

But bedwetting doesn't have to get in the way of your child's social life. Here's how to help your child get ready for a sleepover:

Before the sleepover:

  • Talk to the parent(s) who will be hosting the sleepover to confirm details and find out if your child needs to bring anything special, such as a bathing suit. Let the other parent know about your child's allergies, medications, and medical conditions. Explain that your child sometimes wets the bed and tell the parent how your family usually handles it, so that the parent will be able to help your child discreetly if this does happen. Provide a telephone number where you can be reached in case there are any problems.
  • Talk to your child's doctor about possible treatment options for managing bedwetting and which options might be right for your child. Options include family counselling, bladder exercises, bedwetting alarms, and medication.
  • Talk to your child about the plans for the sleepover, and what to do if they wet the bed. Having a plan can help ease your child's mind. If your child will be taking a medication for bedwetting, make sure they understand how to use it. You can help your child feel more confident by saying that whatever happens, you know they'll be able to handle it. Let your child know that if they want to come home, all they need to do is call.

During the sleepover: Be available in case your child or the host parent calls, but resist the temptation to call your child at their friend's house to make sure everything is fine.

After the sleepover:

  1. Pick your child up at the time you have arranged.
  2. Talk to your child about their evening. Ask open-ended questions about what they learned or saw during the sleepover, and how they felt about their experiences. Talk about what worked well and what you'd do differently next time.

By planning ahead and helping your child prepare for a sleepover, you can help ensure that bedwetting won't spoil the experience. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about managing bedwetting.

Bedwetting and summer camp

Are you thinking of sending your child to summer camp, but concerned about bedwetting? If so, you're not alone. Families affected by bedwetting may have a number of concerns about summer camp. Your child may not want to go due to fear of being "discovered" and teased by friends. As a parent, you may worry about whether sending your child to camp is the right decision and wonder how best to prepare your child.

The good news is that, with the right preparation, your child can have a great experience at summer camp. Here's how to get ready.

Talk to your doctor. Before you plan your child's camp adventure, make a quick visit to the doctor. Your child's doctor can offer treatment options for managing bedwetting and suggest options that may be appropriate for your child. Your doctor may suggest a variety of options appropriate for your child, including medication and non-medication options. Non-medication options such as family counselling and bladder exercises should be used in conjunction with any medication therapy.

Don't forget to pack the medication. If your child uses medication for bedwetting, don't forget to bring your child's bedwetting medication with you to the camp.

Choose a camp wisely:

  • Get your child involved. To help your child feel less anxious, get them involved in deciding which camp they will attend. Gather information on a variety of different camps that are appropriate for your child's age, personality, interests, and maturity level, and give your child the option to choose the one they like best.
  • Do your homework. When considering camp options to present to your child, contact the camp to find out how they handle bedwetting, and to make sure that you're comfortable with the assistance they can offer your child. Speak to the camp director before your child arrives so that they are aware of the issue and will be able to help your child discreetly if bedwetting does occur.

Make a bedwetting "game plan" with your child. Your child will feel more confident if they have a "game plan" for managing bedwetting challenges. Rehearse this plan with your child before they leave for camp. Your plan may include:

  • advising your child on how to choose a bunk (bottom bunks are best, as this makes it easier to get to the bathroom) and find out where the toilets are
  • packing a flashlight and an extra change of pyjamas that they can keep next to the bed (your child may also want to bring a waterproof sleeping bag liner so they won't need to wash out their sleeping bag)
  • giving instructions what to do if they wet the bed and where to go for help (i.e., camp counsellor)
  • teaching your child how to use their medication properly, if they are taking medication (your doctor or pharmacist can help)

By planning ahead, you can help your child manage bedwetting challenges and have a great time at summer camp!