Children usually need to pass urine more often than adults because their bladders are smaller and they tend to drink more fluids relative to their size. In addition, young children may feel the need to pass urine more urgently because it takes a long time—several years—to develop mature control of the muscles that open and close the bladder. If a child has pain on urination, a urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most likely reason, but several other conditions can also cause pain.
Call Your Pediatrician Right Away If Your Child:
- Cannot pass urine
- Is passing bloody urine
- Has a swelling in the abdomen and difficulty urinating
- Has pain on urination
- Is urinating with unusual frequency
- Is having daytime or nighttime wetting after achieving a pattern of dryness
Some children who have pain from recurrent UTIs are in the habit of passing urine infrequently. They may also be severely constipated. Train your child to respond promptly when she feels the urge to use the bathroom.
Pain on urination is most often caused by infection. Girls are particularly susceptible to UTIs, because their urethras are very short and germs from the bowel can easily pass along this route to the bladder. To reduce the risk of infection, girls should always wipe from front to back after bowel movements. A popular home remedy for infections is drinking cranberry or blueberry juice. Studies show that these fruits contain substances that make the urine more acidic and stop bacteria from growing. However, drinking plenty of plain water to flush out the bladder may be just as effective.
Other helpful measures include the following:
- Wear cotton underpants and avoid very tight-fitting jeans and other pants.
- Avoid bubble baths, perfumed soaps, and other substances that can irritate the genitals and urethra.
- After swimming, change into dry clothes instead of sitting around in a wet suit.
- Avoid foods and beverages that can cause bladder irritation. Common offenders include colas and other caffeinated drinks, chocolate, and some spices.
Common Concerns from Parents
"My toilet-trained child is urinating often or with greater urgency. She has started wetting her bed or underclothes after a long dry period. She is having abdominal pain. Her urine smells bad. She has blood in her urine. She has pain or burning on urination."
- Possible cause: UTI
- What parents should do: Call your pediatrician. If a bacterial infection is present, it must be treated promptly to prevent complications. If the infection is caused by a virus, antibiotics won't help, but the infection should clear up by itself in about 4 days. In the meantime, your pediatrician will recommend ways to keep your child comfortable.
"My baby's urine has an unpleasant smell. She is feverish and fretful."