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Bed-wetting

By Kent Amstutz, D.O.

Bed-wetting image

Bed-wetting, or Enuresis, is one of the most common pediatric-health issues for children under​ 6 years of age. It occurs when there is an involuntary loss of urine during sleep. The experience can be embarrassing to the child and frustrating for the parents.

Bladder control is something developed overtime. Before age five, most children have not learned how to control their bladder or recognize the sensation they have when they need to urinate. Some children inherit a small bladder which does not allow them to hold the urine that their body produces throughout the night. Other children may have underlying medical issues, stress or trauma. Overall, most children grow out of bed-wetting as they develop bladder control and recognize the sense of urgency.

Minimize Bed-wetting Accidents

  • Limiting fluid intake, especially caffeine, at least two hours before bedtime
  • Reminding your child to use the restroom before getting into bed at night
  • Improving access to the bathroom by putting a nightlight in the hallway and bathroom
  • Assisting your child in waking periodically during the night, so they can learn the routine of relieving their bladder

Many times a child will sleep so deeply he or she will have difficulties waking during in the night. Boys Town Pediatrics suggests a bed-wetting alarm. By setting an alarm three to four hours after your child’s bedtime, he or she will learn the routine of waking and emptying their bladder when it is full.

“Mom, I Wet the Bed!”

Although you and your child have explored several techniques to control the accidents, they still may occur. Most children will feel guilty and embarrassed after wetting the bed. It is important for parents to understand that bed-wetting is not a mental or behavioral health problem.

How to Manage Bed-wetting

  • Create a supportive environment
  • Avoid punishment or pressure to stop having accidents
  • Help your child understand why the accident occurred and what they can do to minimize them from happening again
  • Encourage your child to overcome his or her problem

When to Call the Doctor about Bed-wetting

If your child suddenly begins bed-wetting, wets during the day, or is over 12 years old and still wetting the bed, it is possible there maybe something more serious. Schedule an office visit with your pediatrician. If your child is having pain or burning when urinating, the stream of urine is weak, or if the sensation to urinate is frequent, contact your physician immediately.