Parent Information

Bedwetting (Enuresis)

Bedwetting is a very common problem.  It occurs in 25% of kids at age 5, 10 to 20% at age 8, 5% at age 12, and 1% by age 18.  Many children with prolonged bedwetting have small bladders and an immature feedback system that results in urine to be passed during sleep instead of awakening the child.  Prolonged bedwetting is frequently familial and is rarely caused by a medical or physical problem.  Almost all kids eventually outgrow it.

Recommended treatment steps include:

  • Restrict fluids during the two hours prior to bedtime.
  • Always have the child urinate prior to bedtime.
  • Prepare the bed and child.  A plastic mattress cover will keep the urine from soaking in.  Your child should wear extra thick underwear (training pants) in addition to his pajamas.
  • Consider awakening your child to void again right before you go to bed.
  • Bladder stretching exercises may be helpful.  During the daytime, if your child feels the urge to go, he/she should be encouraged to wait for 15 to 30 seconds for the urge to disappear.  Each subsequent time he/she should wait longer, e.g. 1 minute, 2 minutes, etc.

Medications are occasionally helpful but are not a cure.  Medications work best if a child is about to outgrow the bedwetting (i.e. not bedwetting as frequently over the past several months) and may be useful for certain situations, such as sleep-away camp, where it would be embarrassing for the child to be bedwetting.  Alarm devices are based on behavioral modification feedback and work well in children 7 years and older.

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