Bed-Wetting - Topic Overview
What is bed-wetting?
Bed-wetting is urination
during sleep. Children learn
bladder control at different ages. Children younger
than 4 often wet their bed or clothes because they can't yet control their
bladder. But most children can stay dry through the night by age 5 or 6.
Bed-wetting is defined as a child age 5 or older wetting the bed at least
1 or 2 times a week over at least 3 months. In some cases, the child has been
wetting the bed all along. But bed-wetting can also start after a child has
been dry at night for a long time.
Wetting the bed can be
upsetting, especially for an older child. Your child may feel bad and be
embarrassed. You can help by being loving and supportive. Try not to get upset
or punish your child for wetting the bed.
What causes bed-wetting?
Children don't wet the
bed on purpose. Most likely, a child wets the bed for one or more reasons, such
- Delayed growth. Children whose
nervous system is still forming may not be able to
know when their bladder is full.
- A small bladder. Some children may
have a bladder that gets full quickly.
- Too little antidiuretic
hormone. The body makes this hormone, which rises at night to tell the kidneys
to release less water. Some children may not have enough of this
- Deep sleeping. Many children who wet the bed sleep so
deeply that they don't wake up to use the bathroom. They probably will wet the
bed less often as they get older and their sleep pattern
- Emotional or social factors. Children may be more likely
to wet the bed if they have some
stress. For example, a child may have a new brother or
Children who wet the bed after having had dry nights for
6 or more months may have a medical problem, such as a bladder infection. Or
stress may be causing them to wet the bed.
How is it treated?
Treatment usually is not needed
for bed-wetting in children ages 7 and younger. Most children who are this age
will learn to control their bladder over time without treatment.
But bed-wetting in children older than 7 may be treated if it happens at
least 2 times a week for at least 3 months. It also may be treated if it
affects a child's schoolwork or relationships with peers. Treatment may focus
on praise and encouragement, a moisture alarm, behavior therapy, or medicine.
Several of these may be used.
If bed-wetting is caused by a
treatable medical problem, such as a bladder infection, the doctor will treat
What can you do to help your child?
child understand that controlling his or her bladder will get easier as your
child gets older.