Most parents look forward to potty training with eager anticipation. After all, potty training means no more buying — or changing — diapers. But even after a toddler has successfully transitioned out of diapers and into underwear, bedwetting is common for at least another 6-12 months. In fact, 40 percent of 3-year-olds struggle with bedwetting, which is medically known as enuresis. And many children don’t regularly sleep through the night accident-free until they’re 7 years old.

Bedwetting is often genetic; a child is more likely to wet the bed if a parent also wet the bed. If both parents were bedwetters, the risk is even greater.

Bedwetting is generally not a cause for concern for children under 5 years old; less than 1 percent of these cases are linked to disease or illness. For most preschoolers who wet the bed, their bodies simply haven’t matured enough to master the complicated process of staying dry through the night. While doctors aren’t entirely sure what causes bedwetting in these children, there are several physical possibilities:

  • The child may have a small bladder
  • The child may produce more urine than the bladder can hold
  • The child is a deep sleeper and doesn’t wake up

But bedwetting can be more than a physical issue. Staying dry through the night can also be affected by factors such as stress and major life changes, like moving, divorce, or welcoming a baby into the family. Even a child who was not a bedwetter might begin wetting the bed under stress.

Whatever the cause,  is NOT something a child can control. That’s why doctors urge against scolding or punishing a child who wets the bed.

The good news: most children grow out of bedwetting on their own. For that reason, it’s not necessary to see a doctor for the problem unless a child is at least 7 years old and has more than two or three accidents a week. If that’s the case, a doctor can suggest strategies or prescribe medication for helping a child stay dry though the night.

Takeaways

  • Nighttime accidents are to be expected for at least six months to a year after a child has been potty trained; it’s totally normal for a 5-year-old to occasionally wet the bed.
  • A child is more likely to be a bed-wetter if either parent had the same problem as a child.
  • Stress and major changes can cause some children who were potty trained to regress.
  • Most children grow out of bed-wetting with no treatment.

References

  1. The American Academy of Pediatrics. Bed-wetting.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What I need to know about my child’s bed-wetting.
  3. The American Academy of Pediatrics. Bed-wetting.
  4. American Academy of Family Physicians. Nocturnal Enuresis.

Comments

  1. With my oldest 4 I would wake them in th middle of th nite to potty & it was no time before they were staying dry thru th nite. My youngest now 2 & 1/2 has been dry for several months but has recently wet twice in a row & all over me

    Reply
  2. When my oldest daughter was about 2.5 years old we began waking her up at night to potty so she could get used to waking up on her own to go. We now do the same thing with my youngest daughter who is now 2.5 but the process seems to be going a little slower. She still wets quite a bit throughout the night so we will continue to put a nighttime diaper on her until she is dry throughout the night for at least two months. This could be a blessing in disguise because she is still in a crib and if she was already waking up to go on her own we would have no choice but to convert her crib and we are NOT ready for that at all! 🙂

    Reply

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