9 Tips to Handle Your Child’s Bedwetting

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 08, 2022

When your child wets the bed, you want to help them outgrow the problem the right way.

For many kids, it just takes time. Meanwhile, there are things that you and your child can do to help the process along and to make it easier to handle.

If you feel angry or frustrated because you have a wet bed to clean up yet again, don’t direct your feelings toward your child. They likely feel bad about it, and they didn’t do it on purpose. So don’t scold.

Should you offer praise on dry nights? Probably not. Bedwetting isn’t something your child can control. So it’s best to save praise for other things that they do and can control, rather than this.

Make sure your child knows that bedwetting isn’t their fault, and they aren’t alone. Let them know that millions of children, and teenagers too, regularly wet their beds. Tell your child if you did it too when you were growing up. You can help them see that it’s a problem that they will outgrow.

If you have other children, let them know that there will be no teasing about bedwetting. Be ready to enforce this rule.

Talk to the doctor

Your child’s pediatrician can check them for problems that might be causing their bedwetting. They can also give you ways to deal with it.

It may help ease any shame or embarrassment if your child knows that bedwetting is a medical condition that doctors can treat. The doctor can explain that it’s often caused by a slightly delayed development of the bladder and the nerves that affect it.

Have your child use the bathroom when they start to get ready for bed, then again the minute before they get into bed. This helps to empty their bladder.

If you’re still awake an hour or two after your child’s bedtime, think about waking them for a quick bathroom visit. (Or if your child is older, they might be able to set this habit for themselves.) It won’t stop bedwetting, but it can reduce the amount of pee that might end up in bed.

If your child is afraid of the dark, put nightlights in the hallway and the bathroom so they won’t hesitate to get up and go when the urge wakes them.

Some kids wet the bed because their bodies don’t yet alert them to wake up when their bladders are full. Bedwetting alarms wake children at the first sign that they’re letting go of urine. The child wears special underwear with sensors that beep loudly when a small amount of urine leaks out. The beeping wakes the child, who can go to the bathroom.

Over time, the alarm trains the body to notice what it feels like when the bladder is full, and nighttime wake-ups happen on their own.

Some kids who worry that they’ll wet the bed don’t quench their thirst all day. By evening, they’re so thirsty, they drink a lot.

Encourage your child to drink more during the day, and allow one drink with dinner (no refills). Make that the final drink of the evening, and there won’t be too much liquid in their system as bedtime approaches.

It’s wise to avoid drinks with caffeine, including cola and iced tea. Caffeine makes the body speed up the pee-making process. Fizzy drinks can also cause problems, so be doubly sure to have your child avoid soda.

Use a zip-up waterproof mattress cover, so pee won’t reach the mattress. There are also waterproof pads to go between the sheets and blanket. After a wet night, you’ll only have to wash the pad, not the bedsheets.

Kids who wet the bed shouldn’t miss sleepovers. Their friends won’t know if you plan well.

Tuck items like disposable underwear or a waterproof sleeping-bag liner into your child’s bag so they won’t worry that a wet spot will set them apart. You can also send extra clothing in a plastic bag, in case what they are wearing gets wet. They can put any wet garments in the bag.

DDAVP (desmopressin acetate) is a drug that decreases overnight urination and can be used for these sleepovers. It is typically given to children over age 6 and can improve symptoms in up to 65% of them.

They may notice that it makes extra work for you and feel guilty about it. If they want to make it up to you, let them help you take the sheets off the bed, do the laundry, or put clean sheets back on the bed. It can give them a sense of control.But don’t force them to do these things. If they think they are being punished with laundry duty, they’ll feel even worse.

Some older kids can motivate themselves to reach their dry-morning goals by giving themselves little rewards for every dry night or other milestone. A prize from a parent may excite a younger child, but for an older child, the reward may mean more if they earn it according to their own rules.

More mature kids may also be ready to try positive imagery, a process in which kids focus on something good that they want to happen. Just before bedtime, they think about waking up dry. If they think it often enough, it just might help them succeed.

Show Sources


Nemours Foundation: “Bedwetting (Nocturnal enuresis).”

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Waking up dry: Helping your child overcome bedwetting.”

National Kidney Foundation: “Questions kids ask.”    

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Enuresis (bed-wetting).”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “Bedwetting.”

University of California San Francisco Benioff's Children's Hospital: "Bedwetting Treatment."

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: “Bedwetting,” “Practice Parameter for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents With Enuresis.”

Urologic Nursing: “Nocturnal enuresis.”

Gregory Fritz, MD, professor and director, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychology, Brown Medical School.

Howard Bennett, MD, author, Waking Up Dry: A Guide to Help Children Overcome Bedwetting.

© 2022 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info