boy sleeping

Bedwetting is a common occurrence in both children and adolescents, and it is estimated that approximately 5 to 7 million children in the United States regularly wet their beds.

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What is Bedwetting?

Bedwetting is categorized by unintentional urination while sleeping in children over five years old and there are two types:

  • Primary-occurs when a child has never had control over urination during the night.
  • Secondary-occurs when a child has not had a bedwetting episode for over six months, then has an accident through the night.

It is not uncommon for young children to periodically wet the bed, but if it occurs more than twice a month, your child should be seen by his or her pediatrician.

How Can I Help My Child?

Bedwetting is typically a phase that children outgrow as they become more mature and aware of their bodily needs. Some methods to help with prevention include:

  • Making sure your child goes to the bathroom before bed
  • Limiting beverage consumption in the evening, especially during the last few hours before bedtime
  • Waking your child during the time of night when accident typically occur so he or she can go to the bathroom
  • Using a bedwetting alarm (a pad with an alarm to wake your child when his or her pajamas become wet)
  • Developing an incentive system for having dry nights

If these modifications have repeatedly failed, your child’s doctor can also prescribe medications that relax the bladder or regulate urine production at night. Doctors typically avoid prescription treatment because there are possible side effects, and it is not uncommon for bedwetting to reoccur in children when medication use is discontinued.

It is important to remember that punishments are ineffective and unnecessary; it is not your child’s fault. As a parent, you should practice patience and understanding, but do not ignore the issue. It’s best not to talk about bedwetting in front of others and only discuss it with your child and his or her doctor. You can also talk to your child about how the bladder and urination process works.

How Can I Keep My Child Dry?

Even with preventive methods in place, accidents can occasionally occur. Disposable or reusable absorbent undergarments can prevent all over wetness. Sleeping bag liners may also help.

What if My Child’s Bedwetting Does Not Improve?

If your child’s bedwetting episodes do not decrease, it is important to seek medical attention for testing to rule out any underlying physical or mental health problems. If your child is experiencing pain, fever, or blood in the urine, you should contact his or her doctor immediately.

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.