When Should Parents Seek Help For Bedwetting?

Nov 02, 2022 | 2 minutes Read

A dad and his daughter playing

Five to seven million kids in the United States age 6 and over experience nighttime wetting each year and eventually outgrow it. One day, the child will stop having to worry about staying dry through the night. Until then, stay calm, implement a few changes and stay focused on not interrupting the most important thing — their childhood.

When to Intervene

"Children over the age of 6 who are engaged in sleepovers often want to be treated for social reasons, and I believe that is a good reason to start treatment," says Dr. James M. Cummings, a urologist practicing in St. Louis, MO.

It may not be necessary to treat nighttime wetting medically after the age of 6, but Dr. Cummings says peer pressure may begin to play a strong role in a child's behavior. "Six is around the age at which social forces seem to become more paramount in a child's life," says Dr. Cummings.

How to Help

Because the medications currently prescribed for nighttime wetting have many side effects, urologists and pediatricians alike recommend a change in the child's routine. Experts say the safest form of therapy, which is also most effective, is altering habits to encourage dry beds.

Dean Cloward, a child psychologist practicing in Rigby, ID, offers a few suggestions. Parents can start with the basics by monitoring fluids after dinnertime. This may be sufficient for some children, but even if it is not successful, it is a good idea to continue this routine when other treatment programs have begun. The child should also empty his bladder just prior to bedtime.

"Other approaches can be designed, but should be created and initiated by a child psychologist," says Cloward. "This assures that other damaging effects of the enuresis do not impact the child and that the intervention helps, not hurts." For extreme cases, Cloward also suggests finding a child psychologist who specializes in nocturnal enuresis.

While you and your child develop your nighttime wetting routine, it may be helpful to use disposable absorbent products, such as Goodnites® NightTime Underwear, the #1 Nighttime Protection Brand (*Youth Pants Category). Our undergarments and mats help protect against leaks so that you as a parent can worry less and so your kid can do what they do best — be a kid.

When Therapy Fails

Dr. Cummings says failure of therapy is not an indication of a major problem, since none of the therapies work more than about half of the time. The worrisome symptoms he looks for in children with enuresis are:
  • Daytime incontinence
  • Onset of symptoms after a long period of normalcy
  • Presence of urinary tract infections

If a child has a history with these problems, Dr. Cummings recommends an evaluation by a urologist, but, he says, surgery is not usually needed for uncomplicated enuresis.

Parents and children dealing with enuresis can be comforted by the fact that young bladders are slowly maturing.

Each year, five to seven million American children aged 6 and over experience this problem which they overcome as they grow up. One day the child will wake up dry. Until then, stay calm, make some changes to her routine, and focus on what matters most in life: your family.

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