Bedwetting is an issue that millions of families face every night. It is very common in younger children, but can last into the teen years. If parents don’t handle it well, bedwetting can cause emotional problems. In some cases, parents become even more frustrated than the child.

Bedwetting often is related to the child’s developmental immaturity. The good news is the vast majority of kids outgrow it.

If your child wets the bed, be kind. Tell him it’s no disaster. It’s something you can fix together.


In most cases, the culprit behind bedwetting is easy to pinpoint: Your child’s bladder is unable to hold a whole night’s urine because the bladder is unable to let the brain know it’s full. Illness, stress or the start of school sometimes brings on bedwetting. There are physical causes of bedwetting — including urinary tract infections. If your child is wet or damp during the day, he or she likely has voiding dysfunction, not bedwetting.

Boys are 50 percent more likely than girls are to be bedwetters, and approximately 70 percent of all bedwetters have a parent, aunt or uncle who wet the bed during childhood. Bedwetting decreases as children get older. About 13 percent of 6-year-olds wet the bed, and about 5 percent of 10-year-olds wet the bed.

Many kids wet the bed several times during the night. Most are sporadic, averaging a few times per week. Most bedwetters have never had a long period of dryness. One in 10 will resume bedwetting after two or three months of staying dry.



Medical treatment for bedwetting isn’t advisable until your child reaches age 5 or 6. By then, he is likely to want to stay dry and able to participate in treatment. After your child’s physician rules out a medical problem, take the above steps and add these:


After other methods are tried, some physicians will prescribe medication to help the bladder do its job. Make sure to ask about the medication’s side effects.

Bedwetting alarms (urine sensors) have high success rates, however, this technique takes a lot of cooperation from both parents and the child. Remember, your child must be fully awake in order to learn how to stay dry. Unfortunately, the whole family may awaken when the alarm sounds.

A book entitled Dry All Night by Alison Mack offers a different approach. Behavior modification and positive reinforcement, as well as parent education regarding bedwetting, are covered in this book. Your child must be able to read the second part of the book, which is directed specifically at helping the wetter help himself.


Your child’s doctor can help by ruling out illness and analyzing your child’s urination patterns. You may be given a “Texas hat” container, which fits into the toilet to collect and measure the volume of urine. Parents are asked to keep a diary of the child’s voiding patterns. Doctors can obtain important clues about bladder capacity from such details as how strong or weak the voided stream is.

Consult your child’s physician if your child:

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