Bed-Wetting in Children: Care Instructions

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Wetting the bed is common in children younger than 5 years. Children this age have not fully gained control of this function. In children 5 and older, bed-wetting may be caused by having a small or overactive bladder, constipation, or low amounts of a hormone called ADH. Sometimes, bed-wetting is caused by emotional or social problems.

It is important not to blame or punish your child for bed-wetting. Most children stop without treatment by the time they are 10 years old. But if bed-wetting bothers your child, you may want to try treatment.

Treatments for bed-wetting include limiting the amount your child drinks in the evening. Some people find a moisture alarm useful. This alarm buzzes when it senses urine to wake up your child. Medicine to help your child stop wetting the bed may also be used.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Limit the amount of liquid your child drinks after dinner.
  • Remind your child to use the bathroom just before going to bed.
  • Support your child and help your child understand that bed-wetting is not his or her fault. Praise your child after dry nights.
  • If you try a moisture alarm, help your child learn how to use it properly.
  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of a urinary infection. For example:
    • Your child has blood or pus in his or her urine.
    • Your child has back pain just below the rib cage. This is called flank pain.
    • Your child has a fever, chills, or body aches.
    • It hurts your child to urinate.
    • Your child has groin or belly pain.
  • Your child is older than 4 years and is wetting the bed and leaking stool at night.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • The treatments you are trying have not helped after 3 months, and the bed-wetting is causing your child problems at school or with family and friends.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.