Bedwetting in Children: Common Causes & Solutions

Bedwetting in Children: Common Causes & Solutions

Bedwetting is a common childhood problem affecting 5-7 million children with boys 2 times more likely as girls to wet the bed. It’s important to remember that bedwetting is a normal variation of bladder control and often resolves on its own. It is not considered abnormal until your child is older and wets the bed consistently (at least 2 times per week for 3 months or more). If your child does have bedwetting difficulties, treatment can begin around age 6.

What might cause my child’s bedwetting?

Physical or emotional problems rarely cause bedwetting. Most children with bedwetting don’t have any underlying medical problems either. Medical problems that may contribute to bedwetting include diabetes, urinary tract infection (UTI), seizures, and sleep problems such as sleep apnea. Most of these conditions can be diagnosed easily and treated. Some causes of bedwetting are:

  • Your child’s bladder is maturing more slowly than usual
  • Genetics: Parents who experienced bedwetting as children are more likely to have children with the same problem
  • Food allergies to bladder irritants
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Diminished levels of a hormone that reduces urine production during deep sleep (vasopressin)
  • Altered sleep patterns due to new baby, new unfamiliar environment, etc.
  • Constipation

What can I do for my child?

The first thing to remember is that bedwetting is NOT the child’s fault. Children should not be punished for bedwetting. Instead, try some of these approaches and be patient with your child.

  • Avoid sugary and caffeine-containing beverages, especially during and after dinner
  • Help the child locate the toilet easily by using night lights in the bathroom and hallway
  • After wetting occurs at night, encourage the child to go to the bathroom before changing into dry p.j.’s. Leave dry pajamas out so that a child can find them easily
  • Try making the bed in several layers, alternating a fitted sheet with a waterproof pad; this allows you and /or the child to quickly and easily remove the items
  • Ask the child to help with morning bed clean-up, including removing and washing bed sheets. Be sure to praise the child for their help!
  • Do not tease or allow siblings to tease a child who has wet the bed
  • Bedwetting alarms can be very effective for controlling bedwetting. They are typically reserved for children older than 7.

What should I do if the problem persists?

Most children outgrow bed-wetting on their own. If treatment is needed, it can be based on a discussion of options with your doctor and identifying what will work best for your situation. Behavioral therapies can be used to control bedwetting. These therapies are provided by specialized Physical Therapists and can help your child learn to control their bladder.

To learn more about pediatric physical therapy click here.

To start your referral call 570.348.1360.

About the Author: Megan Horeis, DPT, PT, WCS, treats pediatric and adult patients at Allied Services Scranton Luger Rehab Center. Her primary focus the past 20 years has been treating women and men with pelvic floor disorders and diagnoses associated with the pelvic floor.