Bedwetting affects five to seven million children in the United States

Kids bed wetting
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Bedwetting is common.

Surprisingly, it is much more common than most parents imagine, affecting about five to seven million children in the United States.

While many parents think that their kids should stay dry at night once they are potty trained during the day, the average child doesn't stopping wetting at night until he is at about four or five years old.

Bedwetting Statistics

And that is just the average child, which means that there are children that aren't staying dry at night until after age five.

Most experts report the following bedwetting statistics:

  • 15 percent of children still wet the bed at age 5
  • 7 to 10 percent of children still wet the bed at age 7
  • 3 percent of boys and 2 percent of girls still wet the bed at age 10
  • 1 percent of boys and very few girls still wet the bed at age 18

So you can see while it is not uncommon for older child to wet the bed, most outgrow bedwetting as they get older. In fact, about 15 percent of children outgrow bedwetting each year.

Why do kids wet the bed?

It is not completely known why some children wet the bed much longer than others, but genetics are thought to play a role. If both of a child's parents wet the bed, there is thought to be a 77 percent chance that the child will wet the bed too. If just one parent was a bedwetter, then the child still has a 44 percent chance of having bedwetting too. However, he has only a 15 percent chance of becoming a bedwetter if neither parent had problems with bedwetting when they were kids.

Having a small bladder capacity, which holds less urine than the average child, or secreting less of the hormone vasopressin, which helps to regulate urine production at night, are thought to be other factors that might cause bedwetting.

Or your child may simply be a deep sleeper.

Bedwetting Treatments

Whatever the cause, most children, if they are still wetting after age six, can be treated if the bedwetting is bothering the child.

Possible bedwetting treatments can include:

  • reassuring your child that this is a normal part of development and that there is a good chance that he will eventually outgrow it
  • wearing pull-ups for younger school age children, and for older bedwetters, it can be helpful to use waterproof mattress pads and overlays, zippered vinyl mattress covers, and/or a waterproof mattress overlay that you can put over your child's sheets
  • limiting the amount of fluids your child drinks right before bed
  • making sure your child urinates before going to bed
  • avoiding caffeine, which can act as a diuretic, especially in the evening
  • waking your child to urinate during the night, before the time that he would usually wet the bed

Other treatments that parents make look to if their child's bedwetting continues to be a problem when they are about eight years old include:

  • using a bedwetting alarm (enuresis alarm), which some research show high success rates after several months of use, many parents report giving up on because they are inconvenient, often waking up everyone in the house or not waking up anyone, not even the bedwetter
  • DDAVP, a medication that is often used on an as needed basis, such as when a child has a sleep-over or camp-out, so that friends don't have to know that he is still wetting the bed
  • other medications, such as imipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant, or oxybutynin


Kliegman: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed.

Nocturnal enuresis: behavioral treatments. Blum NJ - Urol Clin North Am - 01-AUG-2004; 31(3): 499-507

Nocturnal enuresis: medical management. Mammen AA - Urol Clin North Am - 01-AUG-2004; 31(3): 491-8

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