When do I need to worry about bedwetting?


Bedwetting | Texas Children's Hospital

If your child involuntarily urinates regularly while sleeping, don’t fret! Let’s consider a few things prior to  a visit to your pediatrician. Bedwetting, also known as nocturnal enuresis, is a common condition affecting 5-7 million children across the country, and is regularly recognized as the most typical childhood complaint. Bladder control is a gradual process, and nighttime control, specifically, develops differently in every child. Most children stay dry by the age of 6 or 7 and the rate of incidence goes down as they grow older. By the age of 15, only 1 percent of adolescents report bedwetting.

At Texas Children’s, we see many children (ranging in age) dealing with bedwetting. Bedwetting can be stressful for both the child and family members involved, but it’s important to remember that it’s never the child’s or the parent’s fault. We don’t recommend administering punishment for bedwetting. Comforting and supporting your child is usually all that is needed, because most children will outgrow bedwetting with time.

What causes bedwetting?

  • Family history
  • Physical and emotional stressors
  • Impaired brain-to-bladder communication (delayed bladder maturity)
  • Inadequate production of vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone) during sleep, which might allow your child to produce more urine than the bladder can hold

Can I help prevent bedwetting from happening?

  • Don’t let your child drink anything within two hours from bedtime
  • Have them empty their bladder one hour before bed, then again right before going to sleep
  • Provide a fiber-rich diet to ensure regular, soft bowel movements
  • Avoid drinks that might irritate the bladder, such as caffeine, carbonated and citrus drinks
  • Please bear in mind, despite these changes, your child may still have bedwetting accidents, although the frequency may change.

When should I consider seeing a specialist?

  • If your child continues to wet his/her bed after the age of 6 or 7
  • If it’s keeping your child from participating in social activities involving overnight stays
  • If your child previously had nighttime control of their bladder, but then starts bedwetting again

Can I do anything prior to my child’s appointment?

  • Keep a journal that details your child’s toileting and fluid intake several days before the visit (try not to alter their daily routine) and be sure to document:
    • Number of times your child empties bladder
    • Number and consistency of bowel movements
    • Number of daytime accidents (if any)
    • Number of nighttime accidents
    • Volume and type of fluid consumed

If you’re concerned about your child’s bedwetting, discuss it with your pediatrician or schedule an appointment with a pediatric urologist. Specific recommendations for management and treatment of nocturnal enuresis can often be determined based on your child’s age, overall health and medical history. To learn more about the Urology Division at Texas Children’s Hospital, click here.