Wetting the bed is as much a part of childhood as sand castles and ice-cream cones – only far less pleasant for all involved.

By age six about 10 per cent of children are still bedwetting

We can help: Conni’s reusable, machine-washable and environmentally friendly bed pads are Australia’s leading variety.

bedwetting basics

My child is wetting the bed: should I be concerned?

Here are the facts: 30 per cent of four year olds wet the bed, and by age six about 10 per cent are bedwetting. By age 11 there are still five per cent, or one in 20, children who are bedwetting. In other words, the vast majority of children will just grow out of bedwetting if you do nothing. In the meantime, though, bedwetting can cause embarrassment and social problems. My advice, then, is that if your six year old is still bedwetting it is time to engage in some strategies to help your child achieve nighttime dryness while maintaining a calm and positive attitude to your child and their desire to be dry at night. You may want to consult a doctor to rule out medical causes like neurological conditions (rare) or bladder infections (not so rare).

What causes bed wetting in children over the age of six?

The main known cause is hereditary: 75 per cent of children who are bedwetters have a parent or sibling who is or was a bed wetter.

Compared with children who have achieved night-time dryness, bedwetters are more likely to:

  • Have a smaller bladder capacity
  • Sleep deeply so don’t wake up when the bladder is full
  • Produce more urine at night (due to not concentrating urine as well).
  • Are constipated.

How do children feel about bedwetting?

Child may not tell you how they feel, but here are some things that kid say about their bedwetting:

  • "I get really angry with myself."
  • "I feel like a baby."
  • "I can't stay over at friends' houses."
  • “I can’t invite anyone to stay over at my house”
  • "I can’t go on school camps."
  • "I pray before I go to sleep that I won’t wet the bed."

How should I talk to my child about their bed wetting?

The way you speak to your child about bed wetting can have a huge impact on their emotional health.

  • Tell them it is not their fault and that they will grow out of it. Be positive and calm.
  • Explain that they’re not alone, according to the statistics. Say something like, “In your Grade One class there are two other children who are bedwetting.”
  • Talk to your child about your own (or your partner’s) experiences of bedwetting and the age at which you achieved nighttime dryness.
  • Encourage your child to drink six glasses of water or other fluids during the day.
  • Discourage your child from going to the toilet 'just in case' (it reduces bladder capacity).
  • Tell your child that delaying bladder emptying by a few minutes during the day (when they are at home and able to go to the toilet when needed) might be worth a try as this will help enlarge their bladder and improve bladder capacity.
  • Tell your child not to rush to the toilet: go calmly to the toilet.
  • Tell your child to take their time each time they go to the toilet so that their bladder can fully empty.
  • Ask your child’s permission to tell selected adults, like parents of friends, who may be able to assist your child if they want a sleep over.

How can I help my child?

There are plenty of things you can try which will support your child as they grow out of bed wetting.

  • Develop a plan with you child about how to cope. Discuss what strategies you’ll both use.
  • Have a clear aim of no wet beds. That may mean going all night without weeing or your child waking up when their bladder is full so that they can go to the toilet.
  • Avoid giving fizzy or caffeinated drinks, particularly after 4pm, but do not restrict fluids (it does not work and it feels controlling).
  • Avoid constipation by increasing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and cereals in their diet.
  • Try a night-light and make sure your child can get to the toilet easily and safely alone.
  • Do not wake your child up to take them to the toilet. This will further reduce bladder capacity and can delay natural continence.
  • Avoid disposable nappies or pull-ups as they prevent your child from feeling wet when they start to wee; thus actually prolonging nighttime bedwetting.
  • Have a minimum of two Conni Kids bed pads and keep them in your child’s bedroom where they can reach them. (It is important that the child feels wet and will wake up naturally; thus learning the association between a full bladder and bedwetting).
  • If your child is sometimes dry at night a motivational star chart (like the one that comes with our Conni Kid’s bed pad) may be just the extra incentive your child needs to achieve night time dryness. (Avoid using a star chart, however, if your child has never had a dry night as this is not under their control and failing to win the stars and rewards may actually make things worse for your child emotionally).
  • Allow your child to go to bed in a pyjama top and snug fitting undies on the bottom only; that makes it easy for your child to change their own pants. If your child is a boy get them to point their penis down inside their pants to help prevent wetting the upper bed linen.
  • Encourage your child to change their own Conni bed pad and wet pants.
  • Ensure your child has a shower or bath before they go to school to avoid your child smelling of urine and being bullied and/or embarrassed.
  • Be persistent, be positive.

When should I see a doctor?

If you have concerns or just want to make sure your child has no underlying health conditions, particularly if they’re older than six, then it’s a good idea to see your family doctor. The doctor can rule out medical problems and may prescribe further treatment.

References and further reading

Royal Children’s Hospital (2010) Bedwetting Fact Sheet. Available at; www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/. Accessed 20/11/2011

Image from KidSpot article on bed wetting > http://bit.ly/24JIekZ

Looking for tips on Bed Wetting? We just might have the answers for you. Read our story. 

At Home Bed Wetting

adult bedwetting

Adult Bed Wetting

Adult bed wetting (nocturnal enuresis) is when an adult releases their bladder during sleep without realizing. Nocturia is when you wake to go to the rest room during the night, and is different to bedwetting.