What Parents Need to Know About Bedwetting

Bedwetting is an issue that millions of families face every night. It is extremely common among kids who are under the age of 6, and it can last into the preteen years.

Doctors don't know for sure what causes bedwetting or why it stops. But it is considered a natural part of development, and kids eventually grow out of it. Most of the time bedwetting is not a sign of any deeper medical or emotional issues.

All the same, bedwetting can be very stressful for families. Kids can feel embarrassed and guilty about wetting the bed and anxious about spending the night at a friend's house or at camp. Parents often feel helpless to stop it.

There may not be any way for you to cure your child's bedwetting, but the emotional support and reassurance you provide can help your child feel better until the bedwetting goes away on its own.

How Common Is Bedwetting?

Primary enuresis, the medical name for bedwetting, typically starts when kids are toddlers. It is very common among kids who are 6 years old or younger. About 15% of 6-year-olds wet the bed. And about 5% of 10-year-olds wet the bed.

Bedwetting often runs in families: Most kids who wet the bed have a relative that did it, too. If both parents wet the bed when they were young, it's very likely that their child will as well.

Coping With Bedwetting

Bedwetting usually goes away on its own. But until it does, it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for your child. So it's important that you provide support and positive reinforcement during this process.

It's a good idea to reassure your child that bedwetting is a normal part of growing up and that it's not going to last forever. It may comfort your child to hear about other family members who also struggled with it when they were young.

You may want to remind your child to go to the bathroom one final time before bedtime. Some parents try waking their kids in the middle of the night, but most of the time, that doesn't end the bedwetting.

When your child wakes with wet sheets, have your child help you change the sheets. Explain that this isn't punishment, but it is a part of the process. It may even help your child feel better knowing that he or she helped out.

When to Talk With Your Child's Doctor

In rare cases, when bedwetting begins abruptly and is accompanied by other symptoms, it can be a sign of another medical condition, and you may want to talk with your child's doctor.

The doctor may check for signs of a urinary tract infection, constipation, bladder problems, diabetes, or severe stress.

It's a good idea to call your doctor if your child suddenly starts wetting the bed after being consistently dry for at least 6 months. You may also want to call the doctor if your child begins to wet his or her pants during the day, starts misbehaving at school or at home, or if your child complains of a burning sensation when he or she goes to the bathroom.

In the meantime, your support and patience can go a long way in helping your child feel better about the bedwetting. Remember that the long-term outlook is excellent, and in almost all cases, dry days are just ahead.

Updated and reviewed by: Barbara P. Homeier, MD
Date reviewed: April 2005
Originally reviewed by: Sandra G. Hassink, MD, and Steven Dowshen, MD

1 comment:

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