When should you worry about your child wetting the bed?
Dr Eunice Adei Specialist Peadiatrician gives her insights and advice.
At what point does a child usually stop wetting their bed?
Children usually stop wetting the bed by the age of 5 to 7 years. Bedwetting is more common in boys than in girls, and up to 25% of 5-year-olds still wet the bed. Bedwetting is considered to be a problem if a child is above 7 years old and continues to regularly wet the bed. By the age of 12 years, about 8% of boys and 4% of girls still have one or more bedwetting episodes a month.
If a child continues to have accidents, what can you do to help train them? What must you not do?
Most children outgrow bedwetting independently, but some will need a little help. If your child has challenges staying dry during the night after the age of 7, speak to your paediatrician about ways to help them. A few children have an underlying medical condition causing the bedwetting that will need to be assessed and appropriately managed by their doctor.
Bedwetting takes time to improve, so you need to be patient and understanding. It helps to reward your child for even small successes. The following are some things you can do to help your child increase the number of dry nights they have.
- Limit fluids at least two hours before bedtime. Children should continue to drink plenty of fluids during the day.
- Encourage your child to use the toilet regularly during the day (every 2-3 hours) to help strengthen and train their bladder muscles.
- Make sure your child uses the bathroom and completely empties their bladder before bed.
- Reward success. Praise and encourage your child each time they wake up dry.
- Use positive reinforcement: for example, your child can put a sticker on a chart or earn points for every night they remain dry. Give your child a small prize once a certain number of stickers or points have been earned.
- Wake your child once during the night to urinate, if necessary
- Bedwetting alarms can help. They make a noise or vibrate, which hopefully wakes the child up once they start to wet the bed. They can then wake up and finish urinating in the bathroom.
- Punishing your child for wetting the bed
- Blaming or shaming your child for wetting the bed
- Talking about your child’s bedwetting in front of others
At what point is bedwetting a symptom of something more sinister?
Bedwetting can be a medical condition symptom that requires assessment and treatment. Consult your doctor if:
- Your child starts to wet the bed after several months of being dry at night
- Your child is having accidents during the day as well the night
- Your child is complaining of painful urination or feeling unusually thirsty all the time.
- Your child’s urine is pink or red
- Your child has hard stools and strains to pass stool (constipation)
- Your child is snoring loudly at night
If it’s not a psychological thing – what could be the other reasons for a child wetting the bed?
Possible reasons for a child wetting the bed include:
- Family history: children with a parent or parents who were bedwetters are more likely to wet the bed
- A urinary tract infection
- Small bladder size
- Sickle cell disease
- Kidney or bladder abnormalities.
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
If you are concerned about your child’s bedwetting, it is always best to see your doctor or paediatrician for a full assessment.