Understanding Children with Bedwetting Problems

Does your child stay dry through the night or does he, like thousands of other children, suffer from bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis)? Bedwetting is a common occurrence. But it is not usually the sign of a serious medical condition. It’s also not a sign that the child is doing something wrong, or that the parent has somehow failed in the toilet training. However, in many cases bedwetting is treated as an embarrassing problem, causing significant distress to the child. Bedwetting can be understood, treated and successfully managed – here’s how.


What is Bedwetting and How Long Does it Last?

Bedwetting may be seen as a developmental stage that all children go through – no one is born being able to control their bladder, and it takes time for this skill to be developed. Bedwetting in babies, toddlers and young children is to be expected. But if bedwetting persists, it may need to be treated. According to the Mayo Clinic, most children are toilet trained by the age of four years, but there’s no “normal” age for this to happen. At the age of five, 15 percent of children still wet the bed, and between the ages of eight and 11, 5 percent of children are still bedwetting.

Should I See the Doctor?

Many children outgrow bedwetting and it is a matter of waiting for time to pass and the child’s bladder and nervous system to develop fully. However, bedwetting may sometimes be a sign of an underlying health condition such as the start of diabetes. You should visit the doctor if the child is starting to wet the bed after a long period of staying dry at night, or if the bedwetting is accompanied by other symptoms including painful urination, an increased and unusual thirst, serious snoring, or pink urine.

What Causes Bedwetting?

No one really knows why some children stop wetting the bed earlier than others. For many children the problem could be a smaller than average bladder, or a nervous system that is not developed enough to pass on messages to the brain that the bladder is full. The child may still be learning to recognize a full bladder – this is particularly significant if the child is a heavy sleeper. Some children have a hormone imbalance that means not enough of the anti-diuretic hormone is produced to effectively slow the production of urine at night. In some cases, bedwetting may be triggered by stress. Perhaps there is a new baby in the home, or the child is starting a new school. Often, however, there is no discernible reason why bedwetting should continue to be a problem.

The Mayo Clinic says bedwetting is twice as common in boys as girls, and that if the child’s parents wet the bed then their child will be 80 percent likely to suffer from bedwetting too. In addition, bedwetting is more common in children with ADHD.

How Is Bedwetting Treated?

Bedwetting does not have to continue to be a problem. Give the child plenty of support and encouragement as you help him or her through the stage. Using an enuresis alarm, also known as a moisture alarm or a bedwetting alarm, is one effective way of training the bladder and the brain to work together so that the bedwetting is permanently stopped.


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net