If you’re wondering “When do kids stop wetting the bed?” — or if you googled the question — you’re not alone.
Parenting a child who wets the bed can be exhausting, but it’s important to maintain a calm, supportive attitude while you help him or her clean things up. After all, your kid isn’t doing it on purpose and they most likely want to get a full night of sleep, too.
Though the underlying reasons for regular bed-wetting vary, you’ll be happy to know that you’re not the only parent washing sheets at night. In fact, it’s estimated that in the United States alone, up to 5 million kids struggle with peeing their beds at any given time. Unless it’s accompanied by other symptoms, peeing the bed is usually a normal childhood behavior that shouldn’t cause alarm.
When Do Kids Stop Wetting the Bed?
No two kids are exactly alike, so it’s impossible to determine when your child will wake up wet for the last time. However, the frequency of bed-wetting generally reaches its highest point at age 5, with 20 percent of kindergarten-aged kids regularly waking up wet. As children continue to grow older, the frequency of nighttime urination tends to decline, with just 10 percent of 7-year-olds wetting the bed.
While most kids stop urinating in their beds by the time they reach 7, there are a few who may go on to continue waking up wet through the age of 10 or even older. If this is the case for your child, it may be time to visit the doctor and find out if there is something physical or psychological causing your child to continue urinating in the bed.
What Causes Bed-Wetting?
Most commonly, urinating the bed is caused by one of the following reasons:
- Urethral valve or ureter abnormalities
- Genetic factors (wetting the bed commonly runs in families)
- Abnormally slow central nervous system development
- Abnormalities in the spinal cord
- Insufficient antidiuretic hormone
- Difficulty rousing from sleep
- Sleep disturbances (including sleep apnea)
- Illness, life changes or other disruptions in normal routine
Before your child can stay dry through the night, some physical milestones must be met. Specifically, the bladder, muscles, and brain must all be developed enough to work together to prevent urinating while sleeping. The nerves attached to the bladder need to wake them at night when it’s time to go potty and the bladder needs to be capable of storing urine instead of releasing it while she’s sleeping.
When Should I Be Concerned?
As stated already, peeing in the bed is normal and usually isn’t a cause for concern. However, if your little one shows other concerning symptoms along with peeing the bed, it’s probably time to schedule a visit with your pediatrician. Here are a few indications there may be a more serious problem:
- Pain when urinating (this can indicate a urinary tract infection)
- Gasping for breath or snoring at night (these are signs of sleep apnea)
- Unexpectedly waking up wet after months or years of staying dry through the night
Any of these symptoms could indicate a potentially serious health problem, so it’s important to consult with your doctor and see what can be done for your child.
How Can I Support My Child?
Peeing the bed can be very embarrassing and uncomfortable for kids. Do your best to comfort and reassure your little one that he or she hasn’t done anything bad. Let them know many children struggle with nighttime urination and that they will eventually grow out of it. You can further support you child by doing the following:
- Make bedtime routines as relaxing and stress-free as possible
- Give your child plenty of fluids throughout the day, but start to restrict them in the evening
- Make the bathroom the last pit stop before bed
- Use a nightlight or other light to make sure your kid can see how to get to the toilet at night
- Don’t allow your kids to drink caffeinated drinks, since they can increase urination frequency
- Keep a chart of dry nights and set up a reward-based system for making it through the night without peeing the bed
- Talk to your doctor about giving your child medication to prevent peeing the bed, if necessary
Always focus on modeling positive behavior, even when your child wakes up wet. Help them clean up the bedding and get back to sleep as soon as possible. Remember, the bed-wetting phase will not last forever and your child needs all your support during this challenging time.