February 23, 2021 4 min read

Bedwetting in older children is a more common occurrence than you might think. But because bedwetting is still taboo, it’s not openly discussed so you might not realize how many other parents are managing children who wet the bed.

Take some comfort in knowing that, depending on your child’s age, they’re likely not the only ones in their class who wet the bed. In fact, about 15 to 20 percent of older children, 5 to 7 years old, wet the bed occasionally.

The numbers get smaller as children age. Between 1 and 3 percent of teenagers and young adults will wet the bed sporadically. And keep in mind, if your child is wetting the bed this year, there’s a good chance that they won’t be by next year. Roughly 15% of older children who wet the bed will become dry each year.

Until then, if your child experiences nighttime enuresis, there are things you can do to help them overcome it.

 

Children playing with bedsheets

Work With Them

We always want to remind parents not to put down or blame your child. This might encourage them to keep bedwetting hidden from you, adding unnecessary stress to their lives.

Talk with them openly and, if they’re old enough, encourage them to help you clean up the bed when an accident does happen. The easiest way to do this is by using a leakproof bedwetting mat, like our PeapodMats, something that they can throw in the hamper after an accident without having to remake the bed.

 

girl happily drinking orange juice

Manage Fluid Intake

Next, help them manage their enuresis by encouraging them to drink more fluids earlier in the day and taper off towards the end of the day.

If they play sports in the evening, get them to drink fluids before the game and limit sports drinks and fluid intake afterwards. This might not work for every child, so use your discretion and only do this if they’ve had plenty to drink earlier on in the day.

 

child in bed

Develop a Nighttime Routine

Children who wet the bed should be using the bathroom an hour before bedtime, again fifteen minutes before bed, and lastly, right before they tuck in for the night.

This might seem excessive at first, but some children don’t completely empty their bladders when they urinate, so it’s helpful to encourage them to use the bathroom a few times in quick succession.

 

alarm clock

Wake Them at Night

If the bedwetting is still happening after fluids are managed and a bedtime bathroom ritual is in place, you might try a different approach.

If this works for your lifestyle and routine, you can set yourself an alarm to wake your child in the night to use the bathroom to prevent bedwetting. A simple way to do this would be to wake them just before you’re going to bed, but some children might need to be woken up a bit later in the night, so keep that in mind as you plan their wake schedule.

Be sure to wake them only once in the night. Multiple sleep disturbances can upset their sleep patterns too much, potentially causing more issues than it resolves!

 

towels

Avoid Using Towels

As we mentioned above, you can save yourself some trouble (and added laundry) by using a bedwetting mat to collect the urine, keeping the sheets and mattress dry. The right bedwetting mat will also hold in the urine, keeping your child dry at the same time.

Imagine lying on a damp towel - the liquid transfers. That’s not what you want for your child. Instead, use a leakproof mat – it’ll actually absorb and hold the liquid, keeping them dry and the mattress protected!

 

mother and son having tea

Know which Food & Drinks to Avoid

Limit foods and drinks that contain caffeine, especially as it gets closer to their bedtime, and avoid salty and sweet snacks in the evenings. These can all act as diuretics.

Foods rich in potassium might also increase urine production, but we don’t suggest you intentionally reduce your child’s potassium intake, especially since potassium helps regulate sodium levels.

 

mother with embracing two children

A Few More Things to Keep in Mind

There are a few more facts we wanted to share about bedwetting in older children.

  • Stress or changes in the family – new babies, vacations, changes in the routine – can all trigger bedwetting. If your child is older than 7 and was previously dry, then starts wetting the bed, this is referred to as secondary enuresis, and you should talk to their pediatrician. More often than not, this is a stress response, but it’s important to rule out any underlying issues.
  • Sometimes bedwetting is just the result of a very deep sleep, which is nothing to be worried about (if anything, we’re jealous). If that’s the case, then emptying the bladder completely before bed and using the wake method should help.
  • Bedwetting happens to children with small bladders or children who don’t produce enough ADH, the hormone that reduces urine production at night. Both of these problems tend to resolve on their own overtime 


Whatever the cause, you can help your child overcome bedwetting through a combination of support and minor lifestyle changes.

And if you'd like to learn more about bedwetting in older children, we recommend this article.


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