Nighttime bedwetting, or “nocturnal enuresis’, is common, and as a general rule it improves with time. Daytime bladder control is usually achieved by four years of age. Nighttime bladder control is not expected until five to seven years of age. About 15% of 5 year olds and 10% of 7 year olds still bedwet at least once a week. Nighttime bedwetting is twice as common in boys as it is in girls. In almost all cases, nocturnal enuresis resolves without any intervention. There is also a genetic tendency toward nighttime bedwetting. When one parent has a history of nighttime bedwetting, about 50% of the children will also experience nighttime bedwetting. Remember that bedwetting is very common, and that the child is not doing it on purpose! As Dr. Matthew likes to say, “By the time your child walks down the wedding aisle, he will be peeing on the potty”.
Here are some tips to get closer to nighttime dryness:
- Have your child urinate often during the day (five to seven times total) and just before going to bed. This will keep the bladder from “over-distending” during the day to help keep your child dry at night.
- High sugar drinks should be avoided, especially toward the end of the day.
- Try giving your child fluids mainly during the first half of the day, and less so toward the end of the day (try to restrict fluids after 5pm)
- Make sure your child is not constipated.
- Your child should urinate before going to sleep at night.
- Motivational therapy (for example, a star chart) may help as a first intervention for younger children (between five and seven years). Examples of motivational therapy; give a sticker for each dry night, and after 7 dry nights the child can get a prize!
- If motivational therapy does not help, consider a bedwetting alarm. (We recommend the “Malem Ultimate Bedwetting Alarm”, which uses sound and vibration to wake even the deepest sleepers).