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How to Stop Bedwetting: Fluid Restriction

Limiting fluids at night is widely suggested but can be difficult to do.  Eleanor, 40, of West Covina, Calif., tried taking away liquids every night at 7 p.m. when she was attempting to help her son Michael, now 4 1/2, stay dry all night.

Then she moved it up to 6 p.m. "He started begging me for a tiny drink, and I felt so bad," she says. Looking into his eyes as he begged for just a sip was too much for her, she says. "So I couldn't do that anymore."

"I don't recommend restricting fluids unless it is the kid's idea," says Bennett. "Otherwise the kids see it as a punishment."

Bedwetting Products: Waterproof Sheets

Plastic sheets and disposable underwear can save sanity and mattresses. You can also use the "double bubble" method of making a bed. Layer a plastic sheet, regular sheet and a blanket; then repeat the process.

Teach the child how to strip off the top layer and make a fresh bed. Keep some fresh pajamas or disposable underwear bedside, too, so he or she can easily change into dry ones.

Bedwetting Products: Super Training Pants

Super absorbent training pants designed for use at night can help, as well. Bennett tells parents they are fine to use when the child is 4, 5, or 6.

By age 7, he usually suggests trying something else.

Bedwetting Treatment: Medications

Medications usually work while the child is taking them, but once they’re stopped the bedwetting typically starts again. And the medicines can have side effects.

Among the bedwetting treatment options are desmopressin (DDAVP), a synthetic copy of a body chemical that controls urine production, given at bedtime. It's available in tablets and nasal spray forms, but the nasal spray is no longer indicated for primary bedwetting treatment, according to an alert issued by the FDA in late 2007. The agency cites risks of the nasal spray causing low blood sodium levels, in turn possibly leading to seizures and death.

Bennett sometimes prescribes DDAVP in tablet form temporarily, perhaps to help a child stay dry on a sleepover or at camp. "It works immediately if you have the right dose," he says. He will try out a dose before it's needed to be sure he has picked an effective one.

Another medication option is imipramine (Tofranil, Tofranil-PM), an antidepressant that may work by reducing urine production, affecting the amount of time a child can hold urine in the bladder, or other ways.

Bedwetting medications may help in a social situation such as sleepovers but are usually a last resort, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. They are not recommended for children younger than 5 years old.