Best solutions for bedwetting
Luckily for you there are a lot of different solutions for bedwetting in your child. A lot of children only need some improvements on their ‘going-to-bed-routine’. If that doesn’t work you have other tools to use!
By Sam Viconac
Updated February 18, 2020
Our readers often ask us what are the best solutions for bedwetting. Our experience in identifying the solution starts with finding the cause. Every child who experiences bed wetting has their own unique issue that is causing them to wet the bed. Some are environmental while others are physical.
Once you can clearly identify the “why” we can give you the tips you need to figure out “how”to help your child solve this problem. Some ways to solve the issue can be done autonomously with your child while more complex issues may require the consultation of a medical professional.
When does bedwetting become an issue?
Majority of children gain daytime bladder control around age 2 or 3. In general, we expect children to obtain night-time bladder control by age 3-4. Boys tend to have a slower development than girls when it comes to achieving continence.
An accident happens to the best of us. Children that have overcome their bedwetting issues may regress and have an accidental wet night. This is all part of the learning curve and is nothing to worry about.
Bedwetting requires your serious attention when a child is over five years old and wets the bed over three times a month.
It is important to understand that bedwetting can have medical reasons like a UTI or diabetes.
Bedwetting is very common. Approximately five to seven million (5,000,000 – 7,000,000 !) children wet the bed every night in the United States. On average two children per elementary class wet the bed, so your child has no reason to think he or she is alone.
Research shows that 15% of 6 year olds frequently wet the bed. Over time this number goes down. By age 18+ the percent drops to 1.5%.
Even though it is a common issue that children deal with, wetting the bed is a huge cause of stress for parents and children alike.
Primary and secondary bedwetting
There are two types of bedwetting: primary and secondary. Both types have their own causes and solutions.
Primary bedwetting is the most common problem. This means that bedwetting has been an issue since the child’s early childhood without having been dry for at least six months. This is often caused by a small bladder or inability to recognize signals of a full bladder.
Secondary bedwetting happens when a child has been dry for a longer period of time and starts wetting the bed again. This can be triggered by psychological challenges (hospitalization, moving homes, starting school) or issues within the family (divorce, abuse or passing away of a loved one).
Causes of bedwetting
Pinpointing the cause of bedwetting can be a difficult and lengthy process for both parents and medical professionals. We have written an extensive article regarding causes of bedwetting.
The most common causes for bedwetting are:
- A poor bedtime routine
- Genetic factors
- Inability to recognize signals of a full bladder
- Small bladder capacity
- Low anti-diuretic hormone
Tips and tricks against bedwetting
Most children don’t need serious treatment against bedwetting. It is important to start by establishing good day and bedtime routines. Try these tips before attempting special treatment (ex: consulting a medical professional, purchasing a bedwetting alarm)
- Make sure your child goes to the bathroom frequently during the day and takes their time to fully empty their bladder.
- Don’t assume! Explain to your child that adults don’t wet the bed anymore and that waking up in a dry bed is much better.
- Give your child positive attention. Bedwetting is not intentional and should not be punished as if it’s bad behavior. Give a compliment when your child has a dry night and be understanding when an accident occurs. He or she might succeed tomorrow!
- Even though its very tempting, don’t go back to using diapers. Diapers remove the awareness of the child that he or she wets the bed and causes the mind to get used to randomly releasing the bladder.
- Be consistent and stay faithful to your strategy. The mind and body need a while to adapt to changing circumstances.
- Involve your child in removing the wet bedding so he or she becomes aware of the consequences. Don’t make it feel like a punishment though.
- Before going to bed, let your child go to the bathroom and let them take their time to empty their bladder fully.
Have you tried the above for a few weeks without getting significant results? Depending on the age, it might be good to consider talking to a professional or to purchase a bedwetting alarm.
Ruling out medical problems causing bedwetting
Research shows that 95% of bedwetting is caused by non-medical issues. The remaining 5% can be accredited to UTI’s (urinary tract infection), diabetes, urinary tract abnormalities and constipation.
The chance might be slim, but it’s always a good decision to have a talk with a medical professional to rule out any of the above mentioned issues. Once that is out of the way, you’re all set to start solving your child’s bedwetting!
Solutions and methods to solve bedwetting
This method is used on children up to six years old. At a set time in the middle of the night you gently wake up your child and take him or her to the toilet. Your child is still half a sleep, but will empty the bladder. After peeing, you bring (or carry) your child back to bed. You can experiment by moving out the time by an hour until your child has a dry night.
This is a great method to boost your child’s self-esteem. If your child keeps wetting the bed over the age of 6, you should consider using another method.
Bedwetting calendar method
This method motivates your child to take ownership of his or her challenge. You and your child keep track of a weekly calendar. For every dry night your child is allowed to draw a sun or put a sticker on that day. On the days of an accident the square stays blank.
A lot of children get joy from this method because they have a goal to work toward. An additional bonus is that this calendar helps you to keep track of the progress made.
Bladder capacity training
The bladder capacity training can be a fun method to make your child conscious how the body works. You can challenge your child to drink two glasses of water within a short time span. When your child indicates that he or she must go to the bathroom, you challenge your child to postpone this by 10 seconds to a minute.
This teaches your child to have better control of their bladder which eventually will result in more dry nights!
The bedwetting alarm has been proven to be one of the best solutions against bedwetting. Scientific research shows that 70% of children become dry within several months of using this method. Bedwetting alarms come in different forms but all work from the same principle.
Before going to bed your child puts on special underwear with a small device that detects fluid. Depending on your budget and personal preference, this can be a small high-tech device or bedwetting alarm pad.
When your child starts wetting the bed an alarmsound goes off that immediately wakes him or her up. This is an effective way to train the body to wake up at the moment the bladder gets to its maximum capacity. Your child finishes his or her urination on the toilet and can go back to sleep.
For this method to be effective, you will have to get out of bed when you hear the alarm. This is so you can accompany your child to the bathroom to support them and tell them you love them and that you will help them get through this difficult time.
We made an overview with the best rated bedwetting alarms so you can find one that fits your and your child’s needs!
Best rated bedwetting alarms
A combination of the above methods
The beauty of working towards dry nights is that you can test and try what methods work best for your child. We often see parents first trying the bedwetting calendar method. If that doesn’t work they combine this with the bladder capacity training. If needed they purchase a bedwetting alarm on top of that.
Through trial and error you will find the best solutions for bedwetting that fits your child’s unique needs!
Prescription drugs (DDAVP /antidiuretic hormone)
This is our least favorite option, but we see the added value for certain situations. Most prescription drugs decrease the urine production at night to stop bedwetting from happening. Science has shown that this is merely a short term solution and will not help your child become dry autonomously.
Your pediatrician might recommend using pills for special events like summer camps or sleep-overs because of its short term effectiveness.
The problem isn’t necessarily that your child drinks too much water: it is usually the opposite. In many cases children don’t drink enough water during the day and compensate when they come home.
All these fluids will have to come out at one point, which will probably be at night!
Make sure your child is hydrated during the day so there is a decreased need for water intake after 7:00 PM.
Make sure you don’t let your child consume caffeinated drinks like cola, iced-tea, coffee or tea. Caffeine has a diuretic effect which will make your child want to pee even more.
Diapers are a great help when your child is younger than five years old. The use of a diaper prevents your child to ‘feel’ how it is to wet the bed.
Diapers are designed to prevent your child from feeling that it is urinating. If your child currently wears a diaper, you can try to do without one night.
You might be surprised to see that this can be that last piece of motivation for your child to not wet the bed anymore during his or her sleep.
A lot of parents have never experienced bedwetting first hand and might think that it’s a form of laziness. This is rarely the case. Children don’t like to wake up to a wet bed and feel frustrated over something they cannot control.
Try to show understanding when your child wets the bed, and give a compliment when that’s not the case. Your child will look to you for reassurance that they are not alone so you must have patience and show your love and support even during this difficult time.
We understand that bedwetting can be just as stressful for the parent as it is for the child. If you feel the pressure, consult with your partner or a friend but never allow your child to see your emotions.