4 Ways You and Your Child Can Win the Bedwetting Battle

If bedwetting is a problem in your household, here are four ways to help your child overcome this trying situation and keep your spirits happy and dry.

Cheryl Butler
9-minute read
Episode #512

One of the most delightful milestones in parenting is successfully toilet-training a child. Every experience is different, but in the end when a child finally realizes he can use the toilet instead of his pull-up—the celebration might well go on for days!

As exciting as it is to see your child wearing underpants instead of a diaper, for some kids the triumph is short-lived. Although she is quite capable of using the toilet throughout the day, unfortunately she might not have the same success throughout the night due to a condition simply known as bedwetting.

Bedwetting, also called nocturnal enuresis, is a common condition affecting 20% of 5-year-olds, 10% of 10-year-olds, and 3% of 15-year-olds. There are several medical reasons why this condition occurs, so it’s important to start there in discussing remedies that can help your child (and you as a family) to not let this condition dampen your spirits.

The Mayo Clinic’s article on bedwetting explains this condition to be involuntary urination while asleep after the age at which staying dry at night can be reasonably expected.

Further explained in this article are some of the causes of bedwetting:

No one knows for sure what causes bedwetting, but various factors may play a role:

  • A small bladder. Your child's bladder may not be developed enough to hold urine produced during the night.
  • Inability to recognize a full bladder. If the nerves that control the bladder are slow to mature, a full bladder may not wake your child—especially if your child is a deep sleeper.
  • A hormone imbalance. During childhood, some kids don't produce enough anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) to slow nighttime urine production.
  • Urinary tract infection. This infection can make it difficult for your child to control urination. Signs and symptoms may include bedwetting, daytime accidents, frequent urination, red or pink urine, and pain during urination.
  • Sleep apnea. Sometimes bedwetting is a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which the child's breathing is interrupted during sleep—often due to inflamed or enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Other signs and symptoms may include snoring and daytime drowsiness.
  • Diabetes. For a child who's usually dry at night, bedwetting may be the first sign of diabetes. Other signs and symptoms may include passing large amounts of urine at once, increased thirst, fatigue and weight loss in spite of a good appetite.
  • Chronic constipation. The same muscles are used to control urine and stool elimination. When constipation is long term, these muscles can become dysfunctional and contribute to bedwetting at night.
  • A structural problem in the urinary tract or nervous system. Rarely, bedwetting is related to a defect in the child's neurological system or urinary system.

If you have a child that is struggling with bedwetting on a regular basis, it can definitely cause a lot of tension in your household because of the sheer frustration your child will be experiencing with such a delicate matter that is often out of his control.

Combine that with the extra physical burdens of constantly washing and drying sheets and bedding, mattress covers, pajamas, and the regular baths and showers that are needed the following morning to remove the urine smell from your child—the entire ordeal can seem like a nightmare.

The fact of the matter is—bedwetting is a part of raising children and although it can certainly be a burden, there is nothing to be ashamed about (for your child or you as the parent!), and eventually (unless it’s a medical situation) your child will outgrow it.

If bedwetting is a problem in your household, here are four ways to help your child overcome this trying situation and keep your spirits happy and dry.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.