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Does Your Child Wet the Bed?

Updated: Dec 14, 2023


Bedwetting can be a very embarrassing problem that families deal with themselves. Because

bedwetting can have a physical or psychological cause, it is important that parents consider

consulting a doctor or other healthcare professional for help. They can help determine the cause of the bedwetting habit and develop an appropriate method cure. Parents also may find the following suggestions helpful in their effort to resolve the child’s bedwetting habit.

Have the child thoroughly examined by a doctor. Between 5% and 10% of bed wetting cases

have medical causes. Bedwetting is associated with physical illnesses such as allergies, anemia, diabetes, rheumatic fever and tuberculosis. It also is associated with emotional illnesses resulting from personal, family or school problems.

DO NOT punish the child for wetting the bed. Studies show that punishment tends to increase

emotional stress, which can increase the bedwetting problem. Punishment also may provide

attention for the child (even though it is negative attention) and reinforce the bedwetting

behavior. Parents should remember that the child is already suffering physically and emotionally because of this embarrassing problem.

Reward the child for NOT wetting the bed. Childcare experts recommend that parents praise,

compliment or otherwise show their approval whenever the child has a dry night. A calendar

with stars pasted on by the child for dry nights is a way of helping the child to monitor his or her own bedwetting habit. A small gift for a specific number of dry nights may help to reinforce the child’s desire to stop wetting the bed.

Arrange living space so that each child has his or her own bed and some privacy. Bedwetting is sometimes a way of protesting against a real or imagined injustice, such as lack of privacy or personal space.

Make certain the bedwetting child keeps regular and desirable bedtime hours. Fatigue contributes to bedwetting, as well as causing the recurrence of bedwetting after correction.

Be attentive to the child’s diet, particularly the intake of liquids. It may be advisable to limit the

child’s intake of fluids during and after the evening meal. Consult a doctor about possible food

allergies that may contribute to bedwetting. Milk and orange juice allergies are two of the more common.

Be sensitive to any problems the bedwetting child may have within the home. Determine if there are conflicts between family members that may be causing or contributing to the bedwetting problem. Parents also should look at their own communication patterns and determine if they are sending conflicting signals or creating undue stress for the bedwetting child. Families experiencing a high level of stress should consider counseling.

Be sensitive to any problems the bedwetting child may have outside the home. Pay particular

attention to friends and peers. It is important for parents to know their child’s friends and to be

aware of peer pressures that may be affecting the child’s behavior. The conflict that sometimes

results from differences between parental and peer expectations can cause stress and promote


Parents who suspect school-related problems should contact a school official and check the

child’s educational progress and classroom behaviors. Children who experience problems at

school sometimes wet the bed as a response to being unable to control their environment. This is particularly true of children in daycare, kindergarten and the early elementary grades.

Maintain a consistent approach to helping the child correct the bedwetting habit. Children who know what to expect from family members are more emotionally secure. Children who feel less stress are less likely to continue wetting the bed.

Place a water-resistant material between the mattress and bed sheet. This will help reduce the

urine odor and protect the bed. Plastic, vinyl and rubber are the more common types of materials used to protect against the damage caused by bedwetting.*

*Adapted from our book, Bedwetting in Childhood & Adolescence

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