Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Bed-Wetting - Topic Overview

Bed-wetting is urination during sleep. Children learn bladder control at different ages. Children younger than 4 often wet their beds or clothes, because they can't yet control their bladder. But by age 5 or 6 most children can stay dry through the night.

Bed-wetting is defined as a child age 5 or older wetting the bed at least 1 or 2 times a week over at least 3 months. In some cases, the child has been wetting the bed all along. But bed-wetting can also start after a child has been dry at night for a long time.

Wetting the bed can be upsetting, especially for an older child. Your child may feel bad and be embarrassed. You can help by being loving and supportive. Try not to get upset or punish your child for wetting the bed.

Children don't wet the bed on purpose. Most likely, a child wets the bed for one or more reasons, such as:

  • Delayed growth. Children whose nervous system is still forming may not be able to know when their bladder is full.
  • A small bladder. Some children may have a bladder that gets full quickly.
  • Too little antidiuretic hormone. The body makes this hormone, which rises at night to tell the kidneys to release less water. Some children may not have enough of this hormone.
  • Deep sleeping. Many children who wet the bed sleep so deeply that they don't wake up to use the bathroom. They probably will wet the bed less often as they get older and their sleep pattern changes.
  • Emotional or social factors. Children may be more likely to wet the bed if they have some stress. For example, a child may have a new brother or sister.

Children who wet the bed after having had dry nights for 6 or more months may have a medical problem, such as a bladder infection. Or stress may be causing them to wet the bed.

Treatment usually is not needed for bed-wetting in children ages 7 and younger. Most children who are this age will learn to control their bladders over time without treatment.

But if your child older than 7 wets the bed at least 2 times a week for at least 3 months, treatment may help your child wet the bed less often or help him or her wake up to use the toilet more often. You and your child may also decide to try treatment if bed-wetting seems to be affecting how your child is doing with schoolwork or getting along with his or her peers. Treatment may involve a praise and reward system (motivational therapy), a moisture alarm, or medicine. One or more of these methods may be used.

If bed-wetting is caused by a treatable medical problem, such as a bladder infection, the doctor will treat that problem.

1|2

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 24, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
 
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool