Potty Time! Again. And again. And again.

So you were at one time excited about the prospect of your little being out of diapers and using the toilet. But on this particular zoo trip, having spent more time staring at tile than seeing animals and heading back to the bathroom once again, you’re silently laughing at your naive, toddler-having you. Early on in potty training, frequent stops are key to success; the more successes a child has, the less frustrated they will be when they have an accident and higher likelihood that the child will feel good about using the potty. So while you’re finding the trek to the bathroom banal, your child is honing their bathroom skills into a reliable tool you’ll both appreciate later on.

Maybe you’re used to the frequent potty breaks, but now you’re noticing your child seems uncomfortable and squirmy. What if your child has been using the toilet successfully and now suddenly seems to be urinating more and more often? Maybe your child was drinking a lot when they were sick, but now they’re better, they’re still drinking and peeing a lot. There can be a lot of causes for frequent urination in children – some are emotional, some are physical, some are pathogenic.

A common physical cause of urinary frequency is vulvovaginitis or balanitis, basically the irritation of the delicate tissues of the genitals. Most common culprits: poor hygiene, wearing wet swimsuits too long, and bubble baths. Children, especially small children and girls, are susceptible to skin irritation by soaps, detergents, and harsh chemicals. So if your child is itching and feels like they need to go the bathroom every half hour, give that bubble bath, the sweet smelling laundry detergent, and your community pool the side eye and draw up a sitz bath with some baking soda. Also call your doctor to make sure there isn’t a risk of a pathogenic cause.

Pathogenic causes include urinary tract infections. Catching these early and starting antibiotics is important, because urethral infections can become bladder infections can become kidney infections. Urinary frequency is usually one of several symptoms and you’ll want to be on the look out for fever, pain with urination, and a change in smell. If urinary frequency is the only symptom, it could be caused by something physical such as constipation( yes, being constipated can cause urinary frequency), but absence of other symptoms does not rule out infection.

Emotional causes are often linked to anxiety. Maybe there was a dramatic shift in your child’s world such as starting school or a close friend moving away. Maybe there was traumatic event that occurred such as a car crash or a publicly embarrassing event that your child is having trouble processing. Try to see if there is a pattern regarding when your child displays increased urination and/or urinary accidents. Are there other signs of anxiety present such as your child refusing to engage in activities they normally would enjoy engaging in? Headaches or tummy upset? Increased emotional sensitivity, more tearful or quicker to anger? Having a general idea of when these signs and symptoms started occurring and if they can be triggered in your child can help your doctor determine what the next steps should be in addressing the anxiety. Here’s a good, quick breakdown of how to identify anxiety in a child.

For more information on potty training, here’s a link to the article I wrote back in June.