Children who have involuntary loss of urine or a leakage of urine may have accidents during the day (diurnal enuresis), at night (nocturnal enuresis), or both. Bedwetting is common in children who are younger than 5 years old, and it is not usually considered to be a problem until after age 5.
Many things can cause this condition, including:
- A slower than normal maturing of the bladder muscles.
- Having a small bladder that does not hold much urine.
- Making more urine at night.
- Emotional stress.
- A bladder infection.
- An overactive bladder.
- An underlying medical problem.
- Being a very deep sleeper.
Most children eventually outgrow the condition. If bedwetting becomes a social or psychological issue for your child or your family, treatment may include a combination of:
- Home behavioral training.
- Alarms that use a small sensor in the underwear. The alarm wakes the child after the first few drops of urine so that he or she can use the toilet.
- Medicines to:
- Decrease the amount of urine that is made at night.
- Increase bladder capacity.
Treatment For At Home
- Have your child practice holding in his or her urine. Each day, have your child hold in the urine for longer than the day before. This will help to increase the amount of urine that your child's bladder can hold.
- Do not tease, punish, or shame your child or allow others to do so. Your child is not having accidents on purpose.
- Give your support to him or her, especially because this condition can cause embarrassment and frustration for your child.
- Keep a diary to record when accidents happen. This can help to identify patterns, such as when the accidents usually happen.
- For older children, do not use diapers, training pants, or pull-up pants at home on a regular basis.
- Give medicines only as directed by your child’s health care provider.
If your child wets the bed:
- Remind your child to get out of bed and use the toilet whenever he or she feels the need to urinate. Remind him or her every day.
- Avoid giving your child caffeine.
- Avoid giving your child large amounts of fluid just before bedtime.
- Have your child empty his or her bladder just before going to bed.
- Consider waking your child once in the middle of the night so he or she can urinate.
- Use nightlights to help your child find the toilet at night.
- Protect the mattress with a waterproof sheet.
- Use a reward system for dry nights, such as getting stickers to put on a calendar.
- After your child wets the bed, have him or her go to the toilet to finish urinating.
- Have your child help you to strip and wash the sheets.
Contact a health care provider if:
- The condition gets worse.
- The condition is not getting better with treatment.
- Your child is constipated.
- Your child has bowel movement accidents.
- Your child has pain or burning while urinating.
- Your child has a sudden change of how much or how often he or she urinates.
- Your child has cloudy or pink urine, or the urine has a bad smell.
- Your child has frequent dribbling of urine or dampness.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider.