Why do I have a photo of a dandelion featured on this blog post? Well, because the French for dandelion is pis-en-lit – literally “piss in bed”, because dandelion is a natural diuretic.
Bed wetting can continue into a child’s teens, and can cause stress when planning for activities, such as scout camps or school residential courses.
At what age should a child become dry at night?
Night dryness, as you may already know, is not the same as day dryness. It is a neuro-developmental milestone. Just because a child is a fantastic reader and can do quadratic equations at the age of 8, it doesn’t mean that they are neurologically ready to remain dry at night.
A child should be dry at night at some point between the ages of three and six. If it’s just the odd accident a little bit later than this, the chances are that it will settle down. However, if at age six, bed wetting continues to be a consistent issue, please read on.
Why do some children continue to wet the bed?
There are various myths circulating – but sometimes with a grain of truth at their foundation. One is that anxiety causes bed wetting. In a way this is true – because anxiety and over-thinking things is likely to be related to active primitive reflexes… Some children will only have accidents at night when they are under some sort of stress – but this is also due to active reflexes, which rear their heads at times of stress.
So, what is the Spinal Galant reflex?
The Spinal Galant reflex is a very early reflex which emerges at around 20-28 weeks. It plays a very important role in the birthing process, helping the baby to move its way down the birthing canal, twisting appropriately as it goes. If the Spinal Galant hasn’t developed properly, it can cause issues in the birthing process – for example, a baby may get stuck. Equally, if a baby is born by c-section, the Spinal Galant is likely not to have done its thing either.
The reflex should integrate at around three months after birth and transform into the lifelong postural amphibian reflex. A person who hasn’t developed an amphibian reflex may have an awkward gait, and little integration between upper and lower body, which may cause coordination challenges.
Additionally, I’ve noticed that people with a very strong Spinal Galant are more likely to have midline and also auditory processing issues. So this is an important one to integrate.
What are the signs of an unintegrated Spinal Galant reflex?
Other than bed wetting, tell-tale signs of an active spinal galant reflex are a child who cannot sit still and wriggles constantly, doesn’t like tight waistbands, and doesn’t really like labels in their clothing.
An unintegrated Spinal Galant will have an impact on a person’s awareness of laterality, as well as potentially causing auditory processing challenges, potentially leading to lower back problems and even potentially scoliosis. It can also cause a lack of focus, poor short-term memory, poor stamina and extreme distractibility.
How can we get rid of the Spinal Galant reflex?
To encourage your toddler/child to integrate a possibly unintegrated Spinal Galant, get them to scoot around the floor on their back, roll on a balance ball, or roll a ball up and down a wall using their back. You can also get them to dance the “twist”, sit on a balance ball, walk around the floor on their bottom or do snow angels.
However, it may be that it’s appropriate to see a professional to look at the full picture and check to see whether any other reflexes are present.
Whenever I’ve assessed a child whose parents have been worried about late bed wetting, I’ve always discovered other reflexes at play.
As neurodevelopmental therapists, we sometimes see a child’s bed wetting stop within weeks after teaching the appropriate movements and starting to work with a child. However, because the Spinal Galant can be very much intertwined with the Fear Paralysis and Moro reflexes, sometimes a little bit more unravelling will need to be done so that everything integrates properly, which could mean a few months of consistent work on the part of parents.
Sometimes, people only stick with the movements I give them for a couple of weeks and then say they haven’t noticed any difference. Think about how long your child has been developing for: these things won’t go overnight! And we are looking for full integration at brainstem level. So, you need to keep going until this has happened, or you won’t solve the problem.
It is also worth mentioning that late bed wetting may be due to low levels of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). If this is the case, it’s worth getting medication. However, it’s also well worth mentioning that late bed wetting is most likely to be due to a neuro-developmental delay.
It is also important to bear in mind that we do not aim to “fix” people with reflex integration. What we do aim to do is to reduce or remove dysfunctions due to imbalances in the body that are causing emotional, behavioural and learning challenges.