If a child is asleep and they don’t wake up when they need to pee, they wet the bed. It’s commonly known as bedwetting, and it’s how doctors define nocturnal enuresis.
Are wet beds common at my child’s age?
You may be surprised to learn more than half of children age 3 1/2 years have learned to wake and go to the bathroom when they need to pee in the night.
Here are the numbers:
Bedwetting is uncommon at age 5 and rare in older children and teens
Is bedwetting hereditary?
In many cases, the answer is yes. If a child has one parent who experienced bedwetting, there is a 50% likelihood that their child will wet the bed; if both parents were bedwetters, then the child has a 70% chance of also wetting the bed.
If bedwetting runs in your family, this might lead you to think that bedwetting is more common than it really is.
When is bedwetting a problem?
If a child still wets the bed at age 5, they may start having social and self-esteem problems. They will start to realise most other kids their age don’t need night nappies (or diapers).
Bedwetting gets harder to treat as children get older. If your child is a girl age 6 or a boy age 7 and still wetting the bed, it’s time to start helping them learn ‘the trick’ that stops bedwetting.
Does it matter if my child keeps bedwetting?
Yes. To stop wetting the bed is a great achievement for a toddler, child or adolescent. They often:
Parents say, when a child stops bedwetting, family life improves too. Things like:
- Better sleep for the child, their parents and siblings
- Less money spent on diapers (nappies)
So what’s ‘the trick’ that helps children stop bedwetting?
First, you need to know how your child’s brain is developing, to understand why it works.
What a child’s brain needs to do to stop bedwetting
Bedwetting stops when a child’s brain responds to the need to pee
Your child has already learned to notice when they need to wee during the day. But learning not to pee the bed at night is different. For this, they need to make a new connection in their brain.
The brain needs to learn that the feeling of needing to pee -- when asleep – means, ‘wake up!’
If a child doesn’t learn on their own how to wake up when they need to pee, there is a proven way parents can help.
About bedwetting alarms
Can medical problems cause bedwetting?
Medical problems may result in bedwetting, or make it harder to treat.
Look out for these conditions, and see a doctor if you think your child might have one:
- a bladder infection (UTI) – weeing a lot, and complaining it hurts to wee
- constipation – trouble having a poo
- low Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) levels – weeing a lot during the night
- Sleep apnoea - snoring and breathing difficulties at night
Facts about bedwetting causes
- Children do not wet the bed for attention, to annoy parents or because they're lazy.
- Bedwetting is more common for boys than girls, because girls' brains develop faster.
- Parents may assume there are psychological causes of bedwetting, especially if a child’s been having a tough time at school or going through a lot of change. A child may have started wetting the bed again (called regression) after months or years of dry nights. The solution to bedwetting is the same for children who’ve regressed as for children who’ve always wet the bed.
- Bedwetting is more common in children with special needs, learning disabilities and developmental disorders like autism, ADHD and Down Syndrome, but almost all children with these conditions can learn not to wet the bed.
- Bedwetting is more common in children who are deep sleepers, but deep sleep does not cause bedwetting.
All kids are different, but all kids learn not to wet the bed the same way – by making that new connection in the brain. And that’s exactly how a bedwetting alarm helps.
How an alarm helps kids learn ‘the trick’ that stops bedwetting
The only reason you, as an adult, don’t wet the bed, is your brain once learned to notice you need to pee while asleep, and wake you up. That’s ‘the trick’.
Most kids will learn ‘the trick’ without help well before school age. For the few that don’t, a bedwetting alarm can speed up their learning.
Bedwetting alarms are the go-to solution for any enuresis (bedwetting) clinic, because they work far better than any other method.
It’s so much more than an alarm to tell you and your child when they’ve wet the bed. It’s a learning aid, helping your child’s brain make new connections – the connections that mean they can stop bedwetting.
You can find out how to help your child here:
Try the Bedwetting Questionnaire