All kids wet the bed when they are younger.
When do they stop?
Although parents typically understand that their kids will become potty trained sometime around age three years, they often have unrealistic expectations for when they will stop wetting at night.
So the first thing to understand about bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) is that it is consider a normal part of development to continue to wet the bed up until about age six years. That’s the age when most kids can stay dry all night.
But even after age six years, many kids still wet the bed. In fact, at age eight years, up to eight percent of kids still wet the bed. Fortunately, there is a 15% chance that these kids will outgrow their bedwetting each year.
In addition to waiting it out, classic treatments for bedwetting often include:
- protecting the mattress from getting wet by using a plastic cover under the sheets
- make wearing pull-ups seem routine and not a punishment
- limiting the amount of fluids your child drinks in the evening
- severely limiting the amount of fluids your child drinks right before bed
- making sure your child goes to the bathroom right before going to bed
- sticking to a good bedtime routine
Most importantly, make sure that your child knows that it is not his or her fault that they wet at night. Staying dry at night is just another developmental milestone that kids have to reach. Unfortunately, like many milestones, you will likely have to wait until your child reaches this one and stops wetting at night.
Usually bedwetting stops by puberty.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
If your child is getting older and is tired of waiting, especially if he is approaching the age of sleepovers or overnight camping trips, there are other options to treat bedwetting, including the use of bedwetting alarms and prescription medicines, like DDAVP (desmopressin) tablets.
DDAVP can be an especially good option for sleepovers, etc., as it only works to stop wetting on the nights your child takes it. It is a synthetic version of a natural hormone, antidiuretic hormone (ADH), that normally reduces urine volume at night in our bodies.
Treating Hard to Control Bedwetting
Why is your child continuing to wet the bed at night?
Maybe he is just a deep sleeper. Maybe he has a small bladder. Maybe bedwetting runs in the family and she will just have to outgrow it, like other family members have.
Although most children eventually outgrow wetting the bed, if you think your child’s bedwetting should have already stopped, you should ask yourself these questions and share the answers with your pediatrician:
- Has your child ever been dry at night for more than a few weeks or months or has he always wet the bed?
- If the bedwetting is a new issue, have there been any changes in your child’s life?
- Is your child constipated?
- Is your child losing weight?
- Does your child wet during the day?
- Does your child avoid going to the bathroom during the day, holding their urine for long periods of time (voiding dysfunction)?
- Is your child drinking any caffeine during the day?
- Does your child snore very loudly at night? Some people think that bedwetting can be associated with sleep apnea.
- Have you tried waking your child an hour or two after he has gone to sleep and having him go to the bathroom?
- Are you relying on alternative treatments for bedwetting, such as hypnosis, psychotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, or medicinal herbs, which have been proven to not work?
- Have your tried using a star chart to encourage and reward nights that she stays dry?
- Although they only work half the time, did you try using a bedwetting alarm?
- Did you try DDAVP (desmopressin), thinking it would cure your child’s bedwetting, but not understanding your child would likely wet again once they stopped taking it?
A pediatric urologist can also be helpful for your child with hard to control bedwetting.
What To Know About Treating Hard to Control Bedwetting
Although bedwetting can be hard to control, it is easier if your child understands that it is not their fault and that they will almost certainly eventually outgrow it and stay dry at night.
More Information About Treating Hard to Control Bedwetting
- AAP – Bedwetting
- NIH – Bedwetting
- AACAP – Bedwetting
- Separating Fact from Fiction in Pediatric Medicine: Nocturnal Enuresis
- Cochrane Report – Simple treatments for bedwetting in children
- Cochrane Report – Alarm interventions for nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting) in children
- Cochrane Report – Desmopressin for bedwetting in children
- Five year old with a wet bed
- FDA – Information for Healthcare Professionals: DDAVP
- How To Cope With Bedwetting
- Practical consensus guidelines for the management of enuresis
Last Updated on December 3, 2016 by Vincent Iannelli, MD