Bedwetting advice for parents

Bedwetting Advice for Parents

Bedwetting advice for parents

Bedwetting is a normal part of growing up for many young children. About40% of three-year-olds wet the bed - and it can provide a steep learning curve for parents as you work towards the target of dry nights for your little one.

It usually comes down to a loss of bladder control when your little one is sleeping – even if they’re old enough to control it during the day. Known as nocturnal enuresis, involuntary urination while sleeping at an age where you are expected to stay dry, can lead to an embarrassed child and wet pyjamas in many homes.

Bedwetting is most common in children under six years old and usually, they’ll grow out of it – so there’s rarely anything to worry about. Still, you might want to try a few bedwetting treatments and find the cause to relieve any embarrassment or discomfort.  

This article covers bedwetting advice for parents, including:

  • What causes bedwetting?
  • Bedwetting tips for parents
  • Bedwetting advice FAQs


What causes bedwetting?

There are generally three main causes of bedwetting in children:

  1. They produce too much wee at night.
  2. As their bladders are smaller and developing, they don’t stretch to hold all their urine.
  3. They don’t feel the need to pee or wake up when their bladder sends a signal that it’s full.


Thankfully all of these are manageable. As your child’s body grows and their systems mature, they’ll usually stop wetting the bed. But waiting until they naturally have regular dry nights can lead to discomfort and embarrassment for them (not to mention the additional washing!).  

Try these tips to reduce the chance of your child wetting the bed:

  • Make sure they have a wee right before going to bed.
  • Avoid any drinks in the hour before they go to sleep.


Secondary bedwetting

This can happen when your child had stopped wetting the bed for at least six months but has recently started again. These can be down to other underlying causes of bedwetting:

  • Stress – Big life changes like starting school, the arrival of a new sibling, or a house move can sometimes create anxiety related to bedwetting.
  • Genetics – Bedwetting can run in families, so if a relative has a history of wetting the bed it could be down to genetics.
  • Medical conditions – Having a urinary tract infection (UTI), diabetes, or even just constipation might result in bedwetting. 


If you notice other symptoms alongside wetting the bed, take your child to the doctor for a proper medical assessment.


Finding the cause of bedwetting

There are many reasons why bedwetting happens, so it can be tricky to attribute it to a single factor. Knowing exactly what causes bedwetting might help you prevent it from happening again. But in most cases, the same treatments are likely to have an effect whatever the cause.

Try to identify the cause with the following steps:

  • Note the number of drinks they have each day – they might just be drinking a lot or too close to bedtime,
  • Check your family history,
  • Ask them if they feel fine – it could highlight any stress or pain issues causing it


Bedwetting advice for parents

Bedwetting can be an ongoing issue that’s upsetting for you and your child, but there are ways you can handle it. These four points are fairly easy to implement in your home and may help support your child with bedwetting troubles:

  1. Monitor their drinking schedule

    The main causes of bedwetting relate to young children producing too much urine and being unable to store or control it during their sleep. Monitoring their drinking habits makes sense. What and when they drink can have a direct impact on whether they have a wet or dry night.

    You can try and control this in a few ways:

    • Change drinking times – Encourage your offspring to drink earlier in the day, slowing down in the afternoon and eliminating drinks directly before bedtime.
    • Prevent thirst overload – Drinking steadily throughout the day can prevent thirst overload, which can cause a sudden intake of fluid later in the day (and outpouring at night). Give them a water bottle to use whether at home, nursery school, or primary school.
    • Avoid bladder irritants – Certain drinks that contain traces of caffeine, artificial flavours, or sweeteners (like chocolate milk, fruit juices, and fizzy drinks) can irritate your child’s bladder. So, keep them away, especially later in the day.


  2. Prepare their bedroom

    Think about how you can make the bedroom environment better for them. These tips can help reduce instances and make dealing with the aftermath a lot more pleasant for everyone.To get their bedroom better prepared:

    • Apply a waterproof mattress – This will be a lot quicker and easier to clean if your child has an accident overnight.
    • Provide easy access to a toilet – If they share a bunk bed make sure they sleep on the bottom one. Also, is the route to the bathroom well lit? What about a child’s seat on the toilet and easy access to Baby Soft® toilet tissue? You could switch rooms if there’s not a bathroom on the same floor. Eliminate all stress factors for your child when visting the toilet at night.
    • Have spare clothes and bedding nearby – Especially where there’s bedwetting after age 10, older children may want to sort out any accidents themselves. Have fresh bedding and night clothes to hand.  


  3. Create a reward system

    Offering incentives can help with potty training and developing other behaviours in children. Positive suggestions can encourage your child to have dry nights on a subconscious level.   

    Make a chart or use a calendar and give them a sticker (a smiley face, star, or something else they really like) each time they have a dry night. When they get 10 stars or five in a row, give them an extra treat – such as a sweet, small toy or trip to the park. Explain the rules to help them understand how important it is to stay dry and hopefully their bedwetting will reduce. 


  4. Talk to them

Some of the most effective bedwetting advice for parents can be to simply talk to your child about it. Make it clear they’re not to blame and let them know that other kids have the same problem. Perhaps speak about your own experiences if you used to wet the bed.

Getting angry or dishing out punishment for bedwetting normally has the opposite of the intended effect and can create future problems. It can lead to increased stress (possibly causing further bedwetting) and they might hide their bedwetting, which doesn’t solve the problem.

Instead, keep calm and encourage your child when they have dry nights while getting them to help clean up when they don’t.

If you do have concerns about your child’s bedwetting, contact your General Practitioner. Most of the time it will be natural, but they can assess for any underlying medical conditions and offer treatments where they think it’s required. 


Bedwetting FAQS

Should you wake your child to pee at night?

No, you shouldn’t regularly wake your little one during the night to go to the toilet. It won’t stop any bedwetting in either the long or short term, and will simply disrupt their sleep. Instead, make sure they have a wee before they go to bed, and if they have an accident overnight help them to clean it up in the morning. 


What age should my child be dry at night?

Most children are reliably dry at night by the age of four. However, some may still experience bedwetting until the age of six if they are deep sleepers. Those with medical or other underlying conditions may not be dry until they’re older, while even those reliably dry can have the odd accident every now and then.  


Why has sudden bedwetting in my 10 year old started?

Secondary bedwetting is when a child or teenager who has had dry nights for at least six months starts to wet the bed again. Also known as sudden onset bedwetting, it can be caused by similar things to standard bedwetting, such as stress (starting a new school, family issues) or an underlying health condition


Does sleeping too deeply affect bedwetting?

Enjoying a deep sleep doesn’t trigger bedwetting. However, it can increase the likelihood of a wet night, as your child is less likely to wake when their bladder signals to their brain it’s full and needs emptying.


Is it true that bedwetting is caused by psychological issues?

No, psychological factors like stress and anxiety aren’t the main cause of bedwetting. They can explain instances of secondary bedwetting due to the impact stress has on hormone levels in older children. But for younger kids, while psychological issues may play some part, they’re unlikely to be the primary cause.


The advice provided in this material is general in nature and is not intended as medical advice. If you need medical advice, please consult your health care professional.


Related articles

Have a look at the helpful articles and some tips from Baby Soft® to best support your child:


Ever heard of DryNites® Pyjama Pants? They are specifically designed to be worn under pyjamas all while looking and feeling just like real underwear to help manage the bedwetting phase. DryNites Pyjama Pants take the stress out of accidents to allow kids to just be kids.