EXPERT Q&A

Why does my child wet the bed?

Bedwetting among children is not uncommon, but typically ends around age 7. Here are some tips from Shenley Seabrook that may help reduce incidents of nighttime bedwetting—to help both you and your child get a good night’s rest.

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Question

My 6-year-old son wets the bed a few times a month. I’m not sure if there’s something wrong, but are they any tools or tips to try out that can help mitigate the issue? And when might I expect his bedwetting to stop?

Answer

Thank you for sharing your question and your willingness to dig into reasons that might be causing your son’s bedwetting. Here’s some information on children and bedwetting, along with some tips that might help you out.

Typically, nighttime bedwetting ends around age 7. However, if your child is a deep sleeper, has a medical condition, or has experienced trauma, involuntary urination may continue. Most children gain enough bladder control to stay dry throughout the night by age 5 or 6, and the majority will outgrow bedwetting on their own. Some children, however, might need a little bit of assistance. It’s always best to rule out medical conditions if your child is still wetting the bed past age 7, if they start bedwetting suddenly after periods of dry nights, or if the bedwetting is combined with other symptoms (changes in stools or color of urine, painful urination, or daytime toileting accidents, for example).

Several different factors can lead to bedwetting. A few to consider include having a small bladder, sleep apnea, diabetes, hormone imbalance, constipation, a defect in the urinary system, and trouble recognizing when the bladder is full. Interestingly, bedwetting is almost twice as common in boys as it is in girls. It’s also more common in children who have been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), have a family history of bedwetting, or are experiencing stress and anxiety. Here are some tips to reduce incidents of nighttime bedwetting:

  1. Limit fluids at night. Unless your child is extremely active in the evening, try to limit fluids after dinner. You can encourage a healthy amount of fluid intake in the morning and afternoon to ensure your child is getting enough throughout the day.
  2. Encourage voiding before bed. Make using the toilet a normal part of your child’s bedtime routine. You can also remind them that they can use the bathroom in the middle of the night if they feel the urge to go. Putting a nightlight in the bathroom or hallway might help children feel comfortable enough to do this.
  3. Avoid caffeine. Food and drinks with caffeine are typically discouraged for kids in general, but especially in the evenings. This is because caffeine is known to stimulate the bladder and can make nighttime bedwetting more likely to occur.

If you are already using these techniques and your son is still experiencing bedwetting, there are a few other approaches you can try. Try using a moisture or bedwetting alarm. These are small devices that detect wetness and will sound as the child begins to urinate, signally that they need to get up and use the bathroom. There is also medication that some doctors will recommend if nothing else seems to be working and the bedwetting is causing the child emotional or physical distress.

As you navigate this journey with your son, it’s important to be sensitive to his feelings about the situation, making sure that he feels supported instead of embarrassed or ashamed. It’s also to avoid punishing bedwetting, which may make the situation worse and can damage your child’s self-esteem. It’s best to provide reassurance and support to help your child through this difficult issue.

We hope these tips work for you and your child, and that soon you see some positive results. And remember, the CareNectar team is here to support you and your family. Feel free to reach out with any additional questions.

Meet The Expert


Shenley Seabrook

Shenley Seabrook is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who works primarily with children and adolescents in a private practice setting. She is also a foster parent and lives with her husband and daughter in Indiana. Shenley recently wrote her first children’s book, We Have the Same Heart, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and community service.