Urology Blog

When a Child Wets the Bed

Bedwetting may be a relatively normal behavior for young children. However, there comes a point when a parent may wonder if they should talk to a doctor about this problem. Here, we discuss some of the details of childhood bedwetting to help you determine if your child may need medical intervention.

Is bedwetting ever normal for a child?

It may be quite normal for a child to be unable to stay dry for an entire night during the period in which they are actively potty-training. A child may be potty trained sometime between the ages of 2 and 4. When a child of this age wets the bed, it is considered a mere physical symptom that indicates their nervous system is not yet at a stage in which the urge to urinate wakes them.

It has been estimated that approximately 40% of 3-year-olds exhibit primary bedwetting. By age 5 or 6, the nervous system should be mature enough to wake the child when the urge to urinate occurs during the night. At this age, approximately 85% of children are able to stay dry throughout the night.

Bedwetting frequency: what is considered abnormal?

A child may wet the bed as often as every night while they are potty-training. We expect this to decrease as the nervous system matures. If a child reaches age 7 and is still wetting the bed several nights a week, a specialist should be consulted. A consultation with a pediatric urologist can help determine why bedwetting is persisting.

What are the treatment options for bedwetting?

Primary bedwetting that may relate to the nervous system development may be treated with lifestyle modifications and home remedies.

The first strategy parents may use is to limit the fluids a child consumes after 3 pm. By monitoring how much a child drinks in the late afternoon and evening, parents may be able to limit how much urine is stored during the night. Also, the child should use the bathroom right before going to bed. When a child makes it through the night without wetting the bed, they may receive a reward such as stickers or small prizes. Nightlights can also be placed along the path from a child’s room to the bathroom to help them feel comfortable getting to the toilet in the event they do wake up.

Secondary bedwetting is not related to potty-training or an underdeveloped nervous system. This term describes frequent bedwetting that relates to another condition. For example, children with Type 1 diabetes may produce more urine due to elevated levels of blood sugar. A urinary tract infection may also be a cause for bedwetting. Emotional triggers such as school stress may also be a cause for bedwetting in a child who had previously been able to stay dry all night.

Children aged 6 and older should be examined if they experience persistent bedwetting despite the implementation of home strategies. If you would like to schedule an appointment in our Chattanooga urology office to discuss why your child may be wetting the bed, call (423) 778-5910.

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