6 Ways to Stop Bedwetting

These six strategies can help your child get a handle on bedwetting.

Medically reviewed in July 2022

Updated on July 8, 2022

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Waking up your child and finding wet sheets is a rough way for the whole family to start the day.

Nocturnal enuresis, commonly known as bedwetting, can be embarrassing for children and frustrating for parents. But take comfort in knowing that you and your family aren’t alone. It’s estimated that 5 to 7 million kids wet the bed. In fact, up to 20 percent of children still do it at least once per month at the age of five.

While occasional accidents are to be expected, bedwetting will stop entirely for most kids between 7 and 10 years old. Until then, adding these six strategies to your nighttime routine can help you and your little one have a more relaxed—and drier—morning.

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Avoid the Blame Game

When a child wakes up and realizes the sheets are wet, they may feel embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty—and scolding won’t help.

“Kids who wet the bed don’t realize what they’re doing and cannot control it. Any scolding or negative discipline will just add to any shame or embarrassment they’re already feeling, and could possibly contribute to psychological issues around toileting,” says Dina Gottesman, MD, a pediatrician with StoneSprings Hospital Center in Dulles, Virginia.

Instead, offer positive reinforcement when they make it through the night without accidents, but skip out on the punishment when they slip up.

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Bypass Beverages Before Bedtime

Bedwetting is actually caused by a failure to wake up to go to the bathroom, not necessarily a full bladder. But limiting the amount of fluid they drink towards the end of the day, especially after dinner, can help reduce the need to go while they’re sleeping.

Aim to slow down on the water or milk within two hours of going to bed. Limit caffeine intake, as well, since it can cause your child to pee more.

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Make Potty Breaks Regular

“A regular toilet training schedule helps maintain overall good bladder and bowel health,” says Dr. Gottesman. Encourage your child to use the bathroom at consistent times—about every two to three hours—throughout the day. Take care to go right before bedtime to help avoid accidents.

It’s also important to wake your little one up in the middle of the night to pee—even in the beginning stages of using a bedwetting alarm. (More on these in a bit.)

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Check for Constipation

Constipation is a frequent problem for kids with bladder issues, and one of the most common causes of bedwetting. It’s also something that parents sometimes overlook, especially if their child doesn’t seem to have issues going to the bathroom.

A constipated child’s rectum pushes up against their bladder. In many cases, this causes daytime accidents and nighttime bedwetting, regardless of fluid intake or restroom use throughout the day.

If you’re concerned about your child’s bedwetting and accidents during the day, consider discussing constipation with your healthcare provider (HCP).

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Consider Behavioral Strategies

No medical problems causing the bedwetting? Good news. But if it continues, consider one of these options.

Reward systems: You know you should never punish kids for bedwetting, but offering a reward for dry nights can be helpful. Create a sticker chart to keep track of how many nights your child avoids wetting the bed. Focus on positive reinforcement and offer fun incentives.

Bedwetting alarm: These sensors, which are placed on the bed or your child’s clothes, go off when they detect moisture, alerting your child to wake up and go to the bathroom. One 2020 Cochrane review found that alarm therapy was linked to fewer wet nights, both during use and afterward, compared to no treatment.

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Work with the Healthcare Provider

Wetting the bed can be both a physiological issue and a psychological one. That’s why it’s important to work with your provider to help get to the bottom of your child’s bedwetting. They can check for medical causes, such as a bladder infection or constipation, and offer you helpful strategies to address the issue.

Ultimately, most kids do grow out of wetting the bed, so one of the best things a parent can do is practice patience.

Slideshow sources open slideshow sources Bedwetting in Children & Teens: Nocturnal Enuresis. June 26, 2019. Accessed July 7, 2022. Bedwetting: 3 Common Reasons & What Families Can Do. December 22, 2021. Accessed July 7, 2022.
Nemours KidsHealth. Bedwetting. January 2019. Accessed July 7, 2022.
Mayo Clinic. Bed-wetting. October 26, 2017. Accessed July 7, 2022.
Cleveland Clinic. Bedwetting. October 10, 2019. Accessed July 7, 2022.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Bedwetting (Enuresis). 2022. Accessed July 7, 2022.
Sleep Foundation. Bedwetting and Sleep. May 6, 2022. Accessed July 7, 2022.
Caldwell PH, Codarini M, et al. Alarm interventions for nocturnal enuresis in children. Cochrane Database Systematic Review. 2020 May 4;5(5):CD002911.

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