Dr. Jennifer Valentic

The doctor is in | Bedwetting

At what age is bedwetting still a problem? Any recommendations on how to help? 

Bedwetting is common. At age 5, 1 in 5 children experiences bedwetting while 1 in 10 children still do at age 7. Boys are more likely than girls to deal with bedwetting, but almost all cases resolve by the late teenage years.

There are several factors that can contribute to bedwetting: 

  • Family history: having one parent who wet the bed at age 5 or older increases the chance that a child will struggle with bedwetting. If both of a child’s parents wet the bed, this risk is significantly raised.
  • Stress: changes or stress at home, school or socially can cause or worsen bedwetting 
  • Sleep patterns: some children sleep more deeply than others. Too few hours of sleep or an inconsistent sleep schedule can contribute
  • Sleep apnea/snoring
  • Constipation
  • Kidney or bladder problems
  • Neurologic disorders
  • ADHD
  • Diabetes

Treating contributing factors, like constipation, sleep issues or stress can help bedwetting resolve itself. Almost all cases of bedwetting with no known contributing factors or cause will improve and go away with time. 

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There are some ways to help your child overcome bedwetting: 

  • Remember that bedwetting is not your child’s fault.  Avoid punishing your child since most times, it is not in their control. 
  • Limit caffeinated drinks, salty snacks and sugary drinks, especially in the evening.
  • Encourage your child to use the restroom every 2-3 hours during the day and especially just before bed.
  • Encourage plenty of water, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains in the diet to avoid constipation. 
  • Wake your child once during the night to use the bathroom. Avoid waking a child more than this since disrupted sleep could cause fatigue, poor focus, and behavior problems the next day.  
  • Bedwetting alarms: these alarms buzz, vibrate or alarm when they sense moisture. This can train your child’s body to recognize the need to wake up with the sensation to urinate, but they do require parental involvement for success. 
  • Some medications have been approved for kids, but symptoms may return once it is stopped. These may be helpful in certain situations, like sleepovers or nights away at camp. 

Be sure to talk to your child’s pediatrician whenever you are concerned about bedwetting.

— Dr. Jennifer Valentic, Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, Medina

Photo credit: Akron Children’s Hospital