Huggies Pull-Ups

5 Questions About Bedwetting Every Parent Should Know

Mère lisant à ses trois fils

Last Updated: 2/22/2021
Read Time: 3 minutes

When it comes to bedwetting, kids may have a lot of questions. Whether they verbalize them, or parents proactively address them, it’s best to be prepared with answers. Dr. Charles Sophy, medical director for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, shared the five questions he most frequently hears along with the answers.

Why am I wetting the bed?

If your child comes to you and asks, “Why am I wetting the bed every night?” or “Why do I sometimes wet the bed?” it’s important to have a good answer. The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) says kids who wet the bed don’t do it on purpose. It happens because they don’t wake up when they need to use the bathroom. It may also be happening because the kidneys make too much urine during sleep, the bladder is unable to hold urine or there’s a hereditary link. In other words, nighttime wetting runs in the family. “Depending on the child’s age and medical status, there may be different reasons for bedwetting,” says Dr. Sophy. A trip to the doctor’s office will help rule out any underlying medical causes.

When asked this question by a patient, Dr. Michael Wasserman, a pediatrician with the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, LA, says he tells them that the bladder, which stores the urine they make, has a control system that does not always work well but will do so as the child matures.

How can I stop nighttime wetting?

Every child and parent dealing with this issue wishes for an easy answer for how to stop bedwetting. Yet because it’s so tied to child development, there typically isn’t a simple solution.

You and your child can work together to find the nighttime wetting management technique that works best for you and your family. Seek assistance from a doctor, suggests Dr. Sophy, and ask about treatments that might help. The NKF also suggests these management techniques:

  • Encourage your child not to drink a lot before bedtime. But if your child is thirsty, do not shy away from giving them water.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, which means it triggers the bladder to make more urine.
  • Have your child wear disposable underpants. Goodnites® NightTime Underwear can keep them more comfortable and prevent wet sheets.

Fifteen percent of kids who wet the bed stop each year after age 6. “So, time is on the child’s side, meaning that this usually goes away,” says Dr. Wasserman.

Do any of my friends wet the bed at night?

Nighttime wetting is more common than people may think. Tell your child that more than 5 million children in the U.S. continue to wet the bed past the age of 6, according to the NKF, and most of them outgrow it. So, it’s likely that your child knows someone who wets the bed. And even if that friend doesn’t share their secret, there can be something very comforting for your child in thinking “it’s likely my friend wets the bed.”

Is nighttime wetting normal?

In general, most children who wet the bed don’t have any related medical issues, says Dr. Wasserman. In fact, many children have parents who themselves were bedwetters. In some cases (less than 3%), nighttime wetting may be related to a medical or psychological problem, says Dr. Sophy. An evaluation by a physician should be done to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Why do I keep wetting the bed at night? Am I broken?

According to Dr. Wasserman, other variations of this question are “Am I different?” or even “Am I defective?” Questions like these are usually asked because the child feels different, in a negative way. “Their self-esteem is diminished and this is, by far, the most important aspect of this problem to which their parents should pay attention,” says Dr. Wasserman. “Parents need to not make the bedwetting a negative experience but need to focus on the positive accomplishments of the child.”

Children often ask these particular questions because of fear, embarrassment, and confusion. But sometimes they’ll be too caught up in those emotions to ask at all. Dr. Wasserman has found that boys tend to be more uncomfortable than girls discussing “body function” issues. Interestingly, it’s not the kids who usually ask him about nighttime wetting but the parents.

“[The kids] do not usually articulate their anxieties in a direct fashion, even upon questioning from me,” says Dr. Wasserman.

When children stress about nighttime wetting and look to you for answers to their questions, just remember to be open and mindful with them. By explaining to them why they are wetting the bed and telling them that it’s a normal part of childhood, you can help your child spend less time worrying about the problem and more time just being a kid.

These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, consult your doctor as needed.