Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size

The Bedwetting Blues

Don't Get Mad, Get Help
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Craig H. Kliger, MD

Nov. 6, 2000 -- Michelle Taylor (not her real name) is no stranger to soggy sheets and training pants. This Idaho mother of four has washed more than her share over the years. Her two oldest children, Amy (age 8) and Tania (almost 7) both wet the bed nightly until they were over 6 years old. And Michelle, who says bed-wetting seems to run in her family, is wondering if her two other children (aged 3 and 8 months) will follow the pattern.

Michelle's girls are not alone. An estimated 5 to 7 million American children over the age of 6 regularly wet the bed at night, according to recent statistics from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). It's so common and so misunderstood that the NKF began running public service advertisements this year featuring baseball star Mark McGwire -- a former bed wetter -- to raise awareness of the issue. They want parents to understand that bed-wetting is a developmental or medical problem that can be treated, rather than a form of stubborn or disobedient behavior on the part of a child. But in order to get help, parents and their children need to break through some of the mythology that has surrounded bed-wetting for so long.

A Source of Shame

Bed-wetting (or primary nocturnal enuresis, as it's called by doctors) is often a source of shame to children. "Kids who wet their beds are often too embarrassed to go away to camp or to sleepovers with their friends, and the experience can lower their self-esteem," says Lynne Brownell, RN, a pediatric nurse practitioner in Clovis, Calif., with a special interest in the topic.

Dealing with the lost sleep and extra laundry involved with bed-wetting can create stress for parents, too. Bed wetters often wake up in the middle of the night asking for help with soggy sheets. And if mattresses are ruined, it can be financially stressful as well.

To make matters worse, some parents still believe that bed-wetting is the child's fault. The NKF estimates that 35% of bed wetters are punished by their parents for wetting the bed -- the worst possible response, says Brownell. She says parents need to understand that bed-wetting is a physical condition and that children who wet the bed need support and understanding from their parents, not disapproval and discipline.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
mother and daughter talking
child brushing his teeth
Sipping hot tea
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
rl with friends
tissue box
Child with adhd