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.
- 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.