Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Bed-Wetting - Brief Version
Why does my child wet the bed?
Wetting the bed (also called enuresis) is a very common
problem. It is normal for a child to wet the bed even at
age 6. Most children who wet the bed have small bladders.
Their bladders cannot hold all the urine made in a night.
Also, they may be deep sleepers who do not wake up when
their bladders are full. Most children who wet the bed have
healthy kidneys. They do not have emotional problems.
It is important to help the child in the right way. If not,
he could have emotional problems later on.
How long does it last?
Most children who wet the bed stop between ages 6 and 10.
Even without help, all children get over it at some time.
It is important to help the child stop without making him
feel badly about himself.
How can I help my child?
- Help your child get up to urinate (pee) during the
- Make it easy to get to the toilet. Put a night light in
the bathroom. If the bathroom is a long distance away,
use a portable toilet in the room.
- Have your child drink a lot during the morning and early
afternoon. The more your child drinks, the more urine
your child will make. More urine leads to larger
- Don't let your child drink too much during the 2 hours
- Make sure the child urinates before going to bed.
Sometimes the parent needs to remind the child. Older
children may feel better having a sign at their bedside
or on their bathroom mirror.
- Take your child out of diapers or Pull-ups. Your child
may not feel the need to get up at night.
- Praise your child on mornings when he wakes up dry.
- Be gentle when your child has a wet night. Most
children who wet the bed feel guilty and embarrassed
about this problem. They need to be supported and
encouraged. It does not help to blame, punish, or
tease. Pressure will only cause the bed-wetting to go
What if my child is already 6 years old?
When your child reaches 6 years, here are some extra things
you can do to help:
- Help your child wake up by himself. You can help your
child learn to wake himself up at night. Have him
practice this way at bedtime:
- Lie on your bed with your eyes closed.
- Pretend it's the middle of the night.
- Pretend your bladder is full and you have to go.
- Pretend your bladder is trying to wake you up.
- Pretend your bladder is saying, "Get up before it's
- Then run to the bathroom and empty your bladder.
- Remind yourself to get up like this during the
- Practice in the daytime. Tell your child:
- Whenever you have to pee and you're home, go to your
bedroom rather than the bathroom.
- Lie down and pretend you're sleeping.
- Tell yourself this is how your bladder feels during
the night when it tries to wake you up. After a few
minutes, go to the bathroom and pee (just like you
would at night).
- Wake your child up at night. Wake your child up when
you go to bed. Let him find the bathroom and use the
toilet on his own.
- Have your child change his wet clothes at night.
- If your child feels any urine leaking out, he
should try to stop the flow of urine.
- Have your child hurry to the toilet to see if he
has any urine left in his bladder.
- Make sure he puts on dry clothes.
- Have him put a dry towel over the wet part of the
What if my child is 8 years old or older?
Try all the suggestions. You may want to talk to your
doctor about using alarms or medicine.
Call your child's doctor during office hours if:
- There is pain or burning when your child urinates.
- The stream of urine is weak or dribbly.
- Your child also wets during the daytime.
- Bed-wetting is a new problem (your child used to stay
- Your child is over 12 years old.
- Your child is over 6 years old and is not better after 3
months of following these ideas.