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10 Reasons for Bedwetting: Why It’s Okay

Smiling child who is jumping on their bed holding a stuffed animal

Last Updated: 3/26/21
Read Time: 4 minutes

No matter how hard you and your child try to manage bedwetting, it can sure add a lot of stress to childhood. But while it may often be difficult to find the good in the situation (like during those late-night changes), there are reasons why bedwetting doesn’t have to lead to all sorts of worry and lost sleep for you both. Check out these 10 – and share them with your child too.

1. You’re not alone.

7 million kids age 3 and up in the United States still sometimes wet the bed, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Knowing your child is not the only child wetting their bed at night is bound to make you feel a little bit better. And it also makes your child feel better. Experts say talking to your child and making them realize they’re not alone when it comes to nighttime wetting is a great way to boost self-esteem.

2. Most kids stop wetting on their own.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the main reasons children wet the bed at night include having a bladder that has not developed enough to hold urine for a full night and not yet being able to realize that the bladder is full so they can wake up and use the toilet. That said, a child’s nighttime wetting often stops as their body grows and matures. The AAP reports that by the teen years most kids will have stopped nighttime wetting, and only one in 100 adults experiences nighttime wetting.

3. There are effective ways to manage nighttime wetting.

Until your child outgrows nighttime wetting, there are effective ways to manage it, such as talking openly to ease their fears, establishing a bedtime routine, and creating a comfortable atmosphere to get a good night’s sleep. You also may want to avoid giving your child caffeinated drinks, as caffeine can be a bladder irritant. Using absorbent underpants such as Goodnites® NightTime Underwear  is another way to help a child stay dry at night. When your child wakes with wet Goodnites pants, there’s a very good chance they’ll still have dry sheets.

Different management techniques work for different kids and their families. What may work for one child may not be right for yours. Keep trying different solutions until you and your child find one that works.

4. It runs in the family.

Most children who wet the bed have at least one parent or close relative who also experienced nighttime wetting as a child. In fact, a good indicator of when a child will stop wetting the bed is often when the adult relative stopped wetting.

If you wet the bed as a child, sharing your experience with your child can help them feel better about wetting. Your child will feel more “normal” when they hear that other children — especially a relative — wet the bed once, too.

5. In most cases, nighttime wetting is not a sign that your child has a health problem.

One of the most common reasons for bedwetting is that the bladder has not fully developed yet. Nighttime wetting is not usually a sign that your child has a serious health problem. Of course, it’s always a good idea to bring your child to the doctor for a full evaluation to rule out any medical conditions.

If your child has stopped nighttime wetting for several months and then starts wetting again suddenly, this could be caused by what is known as secondary enuresis, which can often be brought about by stress. A physician will be able to determine the cause of secondary enuresis and offer treatment advice.

6. It’s not your child’s fault.

While you might think “my child wets the bed on purpose,” that’s not the case. Kids do not intentionally wet the bed. It’s important not to make them feel like nighttime wetting is their fault. Yelling at your child or making them feel bad about nighttime wetting will only hurt their self-esteem.

7. Support is available.

Support is an essential part of managing nighttime wetting. Finding information and advice from other parents can help you deal with the stress and frustration you may be feeling. Check out the Goodnites Parent to Parent network on Facebook to meet other parents like you.

8. It can give you and your child a way to connect.

Often, kids are embarrassed to talk about nighttime wetting with anyone other than their parents or a close relative. According to Dr. Susan Bartell, a psychologist and author based in Port Washington, NY, talking about nighttime wetting can create a close connection between a child and parent.

“Since children need to be able to discuss this intimate problem with a parent in order to get help, and parents need to be empathic toward the child, respect his or her privacy and be sensitive to all the issues surrounding the nighttime wetting, it creates an emotional environment of trust and an intimate connection,” says Dr. Bartell. “This will inevitably help parent and child to become much closer than they otherwise might.”

9. Nighttime wetting doesn’t have to affect your child’s social life.

Children who wet the bed at night often feel nervous about attending or hosting a sleepover because they’re afraid their friends will find out they’re not dry at night. By using absorbent products, your child can attend sleepovers and feel more secure.

10. It teaches children to be empathetic.

Experiencing nighttime wetting can teach a child the valuable lesson of understanding how others feel.

“Nighttime wetting can help a child become more empathetic because it teaches them that people may have issues that are embarrassing or difficult to deal with,” says Dr. Bartell. “When they experience these types of issues themselves ... it makes them understand that other people may have similar things to deal with (e.g., learning issues, wearing glasses, looking/acting different, etc.) and makes them less likely to tease or make fun of someone else.”

For many kids (1 out of 6, in fact), bedwetting is a normal part of childhood and nothing to worry about. Help keep them from feeling alone and embarrassed by simply managing nighttime wetting until they grow out of it. Let them know that wetting the bed isn’t worth losing sleep over because it’s perfectly natural.  

The information here is not a substitute for medical advice. Always talk to your doctor if you think your child may be experiencing difficulties that go beyond ordinary bedwetting.