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Bed wetting at home


Bed wetting (or enuresis) is when children:

  • Continue to wet the bed more than twice a month after age 5 or 6
  • Begin to wet the bed again after they are toilet trained for a period of time

Children learn to fully control their bladder at different ages. Nighttime dryness is often the last stage of toilet learning.

Parents and caregivers need to use a positive approach in helping a child who wets the bed at night.

Alternative Names:

Enuresis - bedwetting

Call your health care provider if:

Call your doctor if:

  • Your child has had repeated episodes of bed wetting after age 6
  • Your child has begun to wet the bed after he or she was toilet trained for a period of time
  • Your child complains that it hurts to urinate
  • Your child has been drinking excess amounts of fluids
  • Your child has been showing strange behavior changes (becoming unusually withdrawn or shy, or suddenly behaving in a sexually suggestive way)
What to expect at your health care provider's office:

The health care provider will take a medical history from the child and parents, and may ask:

  • When did the bed wetting begin? How often does the bed wetting occur? Have there ever been "dry" periods?
  • Can the child feel the need to urinate? Does bed wetting cause the child to wake up?
  • How often does the child urinate during the daytime?
  • Does the child have a problem controlling urine while awake?
  • Do stress or liquids containing caffeine make the problem worse?
  • What factors make the problem better?
  • Is the bed wetting punished? Does the bed wetting cause shame?
  • Have other family members had this problem?
  • What other symptoms are present?
  • What treatment methods have been tried?

Katz ER, DeMaso DR. Enuresis (bed-wetting). In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 21.3.

Robson WL. Clinical practice. Evaluation and management of enuresis. N Engl J Med. 2009;360:1429-1436.

Review Date: 2/1/2012
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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