Children Who Wet the Bed: Causes and Treatment

Children Who Wet the Bed: Causes and Treatment

Doctors and psychologists have called this problem by the name of nocturnal enuresis (or urinary incontinence), although we all know it as “wetting the bed.” It happens when little ones cannot control their bladder and they urinate while they sleep.

There are also cases of daytime enuresis. All parents should pay attention to this article. Children who wet the bed: what is the cause and how can it be solved? Find out more in this article.

What is enuresis?

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It refers to the unintentional passage of urine by children 4 years of age or older, that usually happens while they are asleep, but can also happen during the day. In this article we will take the opportunity to speak about those children that wet the bed at night, a common disorder and what the solutions are.

Bowel or bladder control is a natural process that is developed while a child grows, changes and learns, etc. This mechanism reaches maturity between 15 and 18 months of age, depending on various factors such as, for example, if the parents have taught their child to go to the bathroom alone, have been slowly removing the diapers, etc.

At this moment, the child already knows “how to go pee pee” by himself (or, at least, is in the learning phase). There are many techniques used by parents to potty train their children, such as putting on underwear so they learn what it is to be wet. Paediatricians, books and grandparents (they are always experts) can help in this respect.

If the teaching and process of maturing are successful for the child, then he will move on to “be a big boy or girl” and will go the bathroom like the adults do, letting someone know when he needs to go pee. It appears that, around four or five years of age, the child is now ready to control this physiological need and does not need help to eliminate his bladder.

angry child

Up till now, all is well. The problem arises when the child does not learn after many attempts. Above all when he is sleeping, “he does not realize” that he has a need to go pee and regresses to the time when he was a baby and thinks that he has a diaper on that will protect him.

However, the results are wet sheets and blankets, crying, nightmares and worried parents. Nighttime bedwetting usually appears around five years age, it can be intermittent or nightly and, in a few severe cases, continues into adolescence.




There are many different ways to treat a condition with these features, from psychological to medical treatments. The problem may be resolved once the reasons are known; but the first and most important thing in cases such as these is for the parents not to lose their cool, to not get angry, not to punish the child nor yell at him.

Remember that the fact of wetting the bed can cause the child to suffer from depression, shame, timidity, low self-esteem, etc. and, if the parents berate the child, then the situation will not improve but instead will become worse. With patience, understanding the circumstances and helping the child to overcome this time, the results will undoubtedly be positive.

self-reliance in children

The possible causes of nighttime bedwetting are:

  • Small bladder (if the child goes to the bathroom a lot during the day, we may realize this is true).
  • Inadequate potty training.
  • Stress, nervousness, anxiety, changes in the home, separation from the parents, problems in school, fights with his siblings.
  • Starting too early, or too late, with potty training.

Issues that should be considered when children wet the bed

It is necessary to give him/her your time

If the child is 5 years old and wets the bed during the night, do not run to the doctor if it only happens once. If it happens repeatedly or every night, then, yes, medical treatment is needed. Otherwise, even up to 8 years old, this is normal.

Do not blame, get angry with or make fun of the child

Punishment is not something that will achieve the effect desired by the parents because the child cannot control the situation. He is not responsible. It may result in more stress, worry, nervousness, feelings of being disobedient to older ones or of failing as a child.

Do not return to using diapers

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For a variety of reasons: first, because the idea is that the child grows and matures and does not regress. Second, because if he continues to use diapers he will become accustomed to going pee at night and wetting the bed, and third, because he will not feel comfortable, it will bring him shame, cause depression, etc.

Do not make the mistake of refusing to let him drink water

Avoiding the consumption of water will not be helpful at all, but it will be a kind of patch that will not improve the overall situation. The aim is not that the child has less urge to urinate, but that he learns how to control urination while sleeping.

Do not wake him up during the middle of the night

In this way, he will go to the bathroom “if you want,” but this will cause the child (and you too) to interrupt the sleeping pattern and this is not good for anyone. It is better that he learns to recognize the message about his need to go pee for himself and wakes up, even when he is in the deepest state of sleep.

Finally, and as a way to reflect, it is good to have in mind the emotions of the child. He is now at an age where he can recount what happens without problems. Teach him to trust you and to express what he feels, why he thinks he is wetting the bed, etc.

Make him a participant in the treatment or techniques to help him stop wetting the bed and, together, help him out of this situation.