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What can parents do about bedwetting?

Bedwetting can be upsetting for children and their families. Some useful tips that you can try are shown below.

  • There are continence health professionals with special training in children's bladder problems - contact the National Continence Helpline for details of a continence health professional in your area.
  • Talk to your child about how their body works, explain what has caused their problem and that they are not to blame.
  • Do things with your child that help them feel good about themselves.
  • Praise your child when they follow the health professional's advice.
  • Help your child to drink regularly throughout the day.
  • Support your child in choosing to become dry and be positive about the treatments they are using.
  • Watch for constipation as this can make the bladder problem worse. Seek medical help if it is an ongoing problem.
  • If your child is using a bedwetting alarm, get up when it goes off and help to wake them up and change their clothes or sheets.
  • Make sure there is enough light at night so it is easy to get to the toilet.

There are some things that don't help, and are not recommended.

  • Don't punish your child for wetting the bed.
  • Don't shame the child in front of family or friends.
  • Don't lift the child out of bed at night to toilet them as a treatment. This may cut down on some wet beds, but it does not help the child learn to be dry.
  • Don't try to fix bedwetting when other family members are going through a stressful time. It's okay to stop for a while and try again during a lessful period.
If you are caring for a child with special needs and incontinence, practical tips and advice are available to assist you with your care. Read more on caring with someone with incontinence.

Let your child have a say

Any issues relating to bedwetting are going to take time, patience and commitment to resolve, both by yourself and your child. If your child is not bothered by the bedwetting, trying to force the issue will almost guarantee failure. Fortunately this is highly unusual as most children want to be dry at night. 

It is hard to underestimate the embarrassment and distress bedwetting can cause to a child. However, trouble really begins when the wet bed becomes the focus of anger or a battle of wills.

There are significant extra costs and workload - including lack of sleep - for parents who have a child who bed wets. It's normal for parents to sometimes feel tense, frustrated and at a loss. Nonetheless, it;s important to stand back a little and look at the situation coolly.

A quiet chat

Talk to your child about what they think and feel. You may uncover fears which are stopping them going to the toilet during the night. It could be the way their bedroom is laid out, fear of the dark, or something in the toilet or home causing the problem.

It is also worth asking the child if they have any ideas for dealing with the problem. You are not going to be able to impose solutions on your child because their co-operation is essential for success. Therefore reaching an agreement to proceed with getting help and treatment is very important.

Working together is the first step towards treatment.

If you want to find out more, contact the National Continence Helpline on freecall 1800 33 00 66.  The National Continence Helpline is staffed by a team of continence nurse advisors who offer free information, advice and support and can provide a referral to a local continence clinic close to you.