When your child can't control their bladder at night, it's frustrating for both of you. Here's how to fix the problem.
Step 1: Don't worry if it's occasional Don't be concerned if your child has an occasional accident; most children do until they're five or six years old. For three out of four kids, either a parent or close relative also wet the bed in childhood.
Warning See a doctor if the bed-wetting started long after toilet training or is accompanied by painful urination, unusual thirst, pink urine, or snoring.
Step 2: Limit evening fluids Limit evening fluids -- particularly caffeinated drinks, which cause increased urination. Eight ounces of liquid should be enough after 5 p.m., unless your child engages in sports or other activities that would require more hydration. Speak to your doctor about what's appropriate for your child.
Step 3: Get a moisture alarm Try a moisture alarm -- a small device that connects to a moisture-sensitive pad on your child's pajamas or bedding. When the pad senses moisture, the alarm goes off, conditioning your child to wake up when they need to urinate. Allow three months or more for the alarm to eliminate your child's bed-wetting problem.
Tip For the alarm to be effective, parents have to take an active role by waking up with their child -- or waking their child up -- when the alarm goes off.
Step 4: Treat constipation If your child doesn't have regular bowel movements, give them more high-fiber foods. Chronic constipation can contribute to bed-wetting by reducing bladder capacity. If dietary changes don't work, ask your doctor about giving them an over-the-counter stool softener.
Step 5: Consider medication If the bed-wetting isn't caused by a medical condition and at-home efforts have failed, ask your doctor if medication is in order. There are drugs that can help reduce bed-wetting by either increasing bladder capacity or limiting urine production at night. They all have side effects, however, and should only be considered as a last resort.
Did You Know? Bed-wetting is more common in boys than girls.