Bedwetting in Children – When Does it Become a Problem

For parents, bedwetting may always seem to be a problem – what with the sheets and bed to wash when accidents occur, and the potential social embarrassment and inconvenience of bedwetting in overnights-away-from-home scenarios.

But the question many parents have is, when is bedwetting a real disorder or problem that requires outside help? To help answer this question, it’s a good idea to look at what experts consider normal.

Normal Bedwetting (Enuresis)

Toddlers who are learning to go from diaper to underwear can be expected to wet the bed on occasion, even frequently. Some youngsters this age are able to use the toilet and wear underwear during the day, but still require protection (pull-ups, night-time diapers, etc.) during the night. This is considered normal for toddlers and even preschoolers.

Bedwetting Over the Age of 4 or 5

Interestingly, some sources report that the age at which bedwetting begins to become “abnormal” differs between the genders: for girls, the cut-off age for bedwetting to be normal is 4, whereas it’s 5 for boys. However, there may still not be cause for concern if a 6-year-old boy or 5-year-old girl still wets the bed on occasion. As the child moves into gradeschool, however, bedwetting that continues frequently may be an indication that something is amiss.

What Could Be Wrong?

Bedwetting past the appropriate age can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:

* Genetics (parents who wet the bed as kids will likely have a child who wets the bed as well)
* Deep sleep patterns (children sleep so deeply that they miss the “your bladder is full” signals from the brain)
* Stress (bullying at school, divorce, moving, changing schools, abuse, etc. can all be causes of stress in a child’s life)
* Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney problems
* Sleep apnea

If your child continues bedwetting past the age when it’s considered normal, it would be a good idea to talk to your pediatrician. He or she can diagnose and treat a physical problem, such as a UTI, and/or recommend a urologist or other specialist if such is required.

In older children, especially teens, bedwetting may be a sign of something very stressful at school or elsewhere, but the teen remains silent about the problem. Appropriate treatment and therapy might bring some of these things out so that the child or teen can begin to deal with them. After that, the bedwetting may disappear on its own.

There are even drugs available to help with bedwetting in kids, but caution should be exercised with these or any proposed solution. Always check with a physician or qualified health professional before trying any bedwetting medication or purported “cure.”

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