11-Year-Old Wearing Diapers – Help!

Potty training normally occurs between the ages of eighteen and thirty-six months with most children being able to stay fully dry throughout the night by the age of five. This is an extremely exciting rite of passage for your little one as well as for you! However, there are some instances where this process becomes prolonged or halted and diapers are suddenly required for a longer period of time. If your 11-year-old is wearing diapers again, here are a few possible reasons why.

Officially known as nocturnal enuresis, bedwetting is a normal part of development before the age of seven. Deep sleepers tend to have a bigger problem with this condition, but it can happen to anyone. However, once you surpass this point, bedwetting begins to become more of a concern.

Why is your 11-Year-Old Still Wearing Diapers?

Your first goal should be to find out why the bedwetting is happening? Here are the most common 3 causes of bedwetting.

Cause #1: A Lack of Control

One of the main causes of bedwetting is issues with bladder control. This can mean that your child has a small bladder or they have trouble recognizing when their bladder is full. Many times this is due to genetic factors. Thankfully, this can be easily fixed by limiting beverages before bedtime. A good cutoff is usually 1-2 hours before they go to sleep. Furthermore, make sure that a part of their nighttime routine is to use the restroom one last time, even if they don’t necessarily feel like they need to go at that moment.

If this is not enough, remove caffeine triggers that can lead to the increased need to urinate. This means soda, tea and even chocolate should be limited during the day and eliminated at night.

Cause #2: Stress

Anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions can all be a factor in your 11-year-old needing to wear diapers. Many times a big move, the loss of a loved one, or a child’s parents getting divorced can trigger a sudden bout of bladder trouble.

In this case, treating the cause can become a little more tricky. Time and patience are key in this type of scenario as added stress can lead to the problem becoming exacerbated. Exercise and spending more time outdoors can help to relieve stress over time. However, if it becomes prolonged with no improvement, counseling may be the best option to remedy the issue.

11-Year-Old Wearing Diapers

Cause #3: Underlying Medical Conditions

Unfortunately, sometimes bedwetting is not a condition, but instead a symptom of something else impacting your child’s health. If this ailment comes and goes, it could be a sign of a temporary illness. However, if it continues regularly, it could be a sign of a more serious disorder.

Cause #4: Urinary Tract Infection

This is an infection of the urinary system. It leads to increased, burning urination. Girls are more prone to develop UTIs due to wiping incorrectly after a bowel movement. If left untreated it can lead to a bladder or kidney infection. Thankfully, if caught early, this is easily treated with antibiotics.

Keep in mind, while less likely, boys can still develop UTIs, especially if they are uncircumcised. Symptoms will be the same for both genders.

Cause #5: Constipation

Constipation occurs when someone has less than three bowel movements in a week’s time or if they struggle during bathroom visits on a regular basis. This can put pressure on the bladder, causing random incontinence.

Hydration, daily consumption of fiber-filled fruits and vegetables as well as exercise can all aid in solving this problem. For quick relief, consider adding options that start with P — pumpkin, prunes, pears, peaches, sweet potatoes, pineapples, and pomegranates. These tasty snack options not only have tons of fiber, but they also have an extremely high water content!

If these natural remedies don’t cut it, speak with your doctor about alternative ways to move things along. Constipation can come and go so watch for the signs and talk to your child when symptoms arise.

Cause #6: Diabetes

Something more serious to watch out for is the onset of Type 1 Diabetes. One of the first symptoms reported is bedwetting. This is due to the fact that this disorder causes the body to produce an excess amount of urine to help flush out the excess glucose in the system. Excessive thirst and increased urination are typical indicators of this disease.

More importantly, according to the Mayo Clinic, this normally arises between the ages of 4 to 7 or 10 to 14. If the sudden need for a nighttime diaper starts happening after your child has hit double digits, this could be the culprit. Unfortunately, at this age, they may feel less comfortable discussing the problem so keeping an eye out for symptoms and having open conversations with your kids is imperative in order to catch this condition early.

Cause #7: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

This neurodevelopmental condition causes a lack of impulse control, which can impact a child’s ability to focus on cues that other kids instinctively recognize. In fact, studies show that bedwetting is three times as likely to occur in a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD.

Just like when the cause is a basic lack of control, you want to treat the triggers. Limiting liquids and scheduling bathroom breaks before bed are great solutions. If more assistance is needed, consider a nighttime bathroom alarm. This will cause them to get up once a night to relieve themselves before the issue arises. This will help their bodies to learn to better recognize when they need to go. 

Cause #8: Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This is a very rare condition that arises when your child suddenly stops breathing for brief periods of time in their sleep. When this occurs, the body is programmed to prioritize the need to restart airflow, which means that other bodily functions take a backseat in the grand scheme of things.

Symptoms include snoring that has intermittent pauses, gasps and snorts, bedwetting, night terrors and night sweats. OSA is a very serious condition that needs to be treated by a physician. Depending on the cause the doctor may need to remove the child’s tonsils, prescribe medication or therapy may be required.

Timely Treatment Is Key

If you find that your 11-year old is wearing a diaper to solve incontinence issues, investigate the cause for this sudden change and address it accordingly. If left untreated, many of these health conditions can become progressively worse.

Creating an environment where your child feels comfortable talking about uncomfortable topics is important when it comes to maintaining their physical and emotional health. Before issues arise, engage in regular and open conversations with your child about their health and how they are feeling. Let them know that you are always there to help no matter what the problem may be and always keep an open mind.

Finally, remember that positivity is crucial. The culprit for this regression is likely something that is out of your child’s control. Although it can be frustrating, try to be patient and encouraging.

Ask about other changes they have noticed and watch them more closely to help narrow down the triggers and other symptoms they may be experiencing that could give you a better idea of the cause. If there is a reason for concern or things don’t improve, schedule a visit with their pediatrician to discuss noticeable changes and potential solutions.