Child pee on a mattress
Bed-wetting may be an inconvenience to parents, but it is a common problem in children.

Kids Wetting the Bed

To the parents of children who wet the bed: your child is not alone. Bed-wetting is a common problem for children, and nighttime can remain an obstacle for some young bladders.

Reasons Why Kids Wet the Bed


Bed-wetting is an involuntary action and one that your youngster is likely embarrassed about.

Most kids are toilet trained by age five, but full bladder control may not be obtained for a couple more years after this. To give some perspective, about 15 percent of children still wet the bed at age five, and less than two percent of kids 14 and older still wet the bed.

There are both physical and non-physical causes for why a child continues to wet the bed.

Physical Causes:

  • A small bladder may not be able to hold all the urine that is produced throughout the night.
  • Low production of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH): this hormone’s function is to slow nighttime urine production. Low levels of ADH means that urine production continues close to daytime frequency.
  • Slow nerve development in the bladder may not send strong enough signals to the brain to let your child know when it’s time to pee.
  • Genetics may influence whether a child wets the bed until a later age. For example, if an immediate family member wetted the bed at a similar age, your child might develop the same way.
  • Medical conditions, such as diabetes increase the chance of nighttime wetting.
  • A urinary tract infection can make it difficult for your child to control urination.
  • Structural issues in the urinary tract or nervous system may also initiate bed-wetting, but these types of conditions are rare.

Other Causes:

  • Bed-wetting is more common in children who have developmental delays and emotional or behavioral difficulties.
  • Stress and anxiety can trigger involuntary wetting.
  • Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have more frequent occurrences in wetting the bed. This could be because kids with ADHD don’t pay as much attention to cues from their body.
  • Improper sleep. Children who are deep sleepers or whose sleep is interrupted are more likely to wet the bed.

Symptoms Associated with Bed-Wetting

  • Your child wets the bed two or more times a week over the age of five
  • Your child has had six straight months of dry nights and then starts wetting the bed
  • Sleep issues
  • Bed-wetting may arise from a change in medication
  • Constipation
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Treatment for Kids Wetting the Bed

There are several tricks you can try to help your child stay dry through the night. If you’re worried, don’t hesitate to involve your doctor or specialist.

Lifestyle Changes

Some tweaks to the bedtime routine may be the answer. After about 6:00 pm, reduce your child’s fluid intake. Encourage additional bathroom visits leading up to bedtime and one more visit right before bed to empty their bladder.

Other changes you can make are eliminating caffeinated beverages from their diet, increasing their fiber intake, helping them release stress (through exercise, talking, or seeing a professional), and making sure they’re getting enough sleep.

Bladder Training

Accidents may happen because the muscles used to pee are being used incorrectly. Teach your child the habit of emptying their bladder throughout the day on a schedule to build muscle awareness and bladder control. Every 2-3 hours have your child go to the washroom, whether or not they think they need to in order to train their brain. Bladder training does take time and consistency, but your child will adapt quickly.

Moisture Alarms

You can purchase moisture alarms that either clip to your child’s underwear or come in the form of a sleeping pad.

When the sensor on the alarm gets wet, an alarm sounds/vibrates to alert your child of the accident when it happens. As a result, your child’s brain learns to wake up to pee. Use of this method is most effective when not used in conjunction with other strategies, and your child has wet the bed repeatedly.

Medication

The longer a child has been wetting the bed, the less likely it will solve itself on its own. Medication is available, but they rarely cure bed-wetting. Try to tackle the underlying issues before bringing medication into the mix. Your doctor will be able to provide more information on the medications that are advisable for your child and any side effects that may occur.

When to Involve a Doctor

  • Your child is over the age of 7 and still wetting the bed.
  • Your child snores or has gasps in breathing throughout the night.
  • Your child has had several months of being dry through the night and then starts wetting again.
  • Bed-wetting has additional symptoms like when urination causes pain or a burning sensation, your child is unusually thirsty, the color of the urine has a pink color, or stools are hard.

How to Help Your Child Cope with Bed-wetting

Your child shouldn’t have to deal with this on their own. Here are some suggestions to help you and your child work as a team to resolve their bed-wetting:

  • Adopt a productive and positive attitude about helping them through the issue. Don’t punish your child or make them feel ashamed; this response will cue additional stress and amplify the problem (as well as encourage them to start hiding the bed-wetting from you).
  • Develop a reward system for dry nights to motivate your child. Give them a reason to feel proud of dry nights with a small token like temporary tattoos or stickers. Creating a system will also help you keep track of their bed-wetting so you can identify patterns.
  • Make sure that your child gets enough sleep
  • Create a household rule that there will be no teasing about bed-wetting to help your child feel supported as they work through the issue.
  • Get your child to help change and clean the soiled sheets. By taking responsibility as a team and cleaning up together, your child may feel less embarrassed.

Kids wetting the bed is a normal part of development, so exercise patience with your young one. While the added laundry isn’t ideal, your child will appreciate your help getting them from wet nights to dry ones.