Signup for our newsletter to receive pregnancy, parenting and child health updates.

ask an expert

What can I do for my 9 year old's bed-wetting problem?

Nine Year Old Still Wetting the Bed

My 9 year old daughter is still wetting the bed at least 3 times or more a week. I have limited the amount of fluids she can have after 6 pm. She has to go to the bathroom every hour once she gets home from daycare.

My 6 year old daughter has a similar problem, but she takes medication and doesn't have nearly as many accidents. What can I do for my 9 year old that isn't embarrassing for her?


Stephanie Neuhaus | Pediatrician

Stephanie Neuhaus

Most children who wet the bed have inherited small bladders, which cannot hold all the urine produced in a night. In addition, they are deep sleepers who don't awaken to the signal of a full bladder.  Physical causes are very rare, and your healthcare provider can easily detect them.

Emotional problems do not cause enuresis, but they can occur if it is mishandled.  Never become angry if your child can't stay dry during the night.  Never punish or tease your child for bed-wetting.  Support and patience are the key in helping your child.

Most children who are bed-wetting overcome the problem between ages 6 and 12. Even without treatment, all children eventually get over it. Therefore, treatments that might have harmful complications should not be used.

Pull-ups are appropriate for use at home on a regular basis, however, if your child is uncomfortable using these at sleepovers, medication is appropriate for intermittent use. A bed-wetting alarm is also an option. Please discuss these with your physician.

7 Suggestions to Help Bed-Wetting

  1. Remind them to get up
    Encourage your child to get up to urinate during the night.This advice is more important than any other. Tell your child at bedtime, "Try to get up when you have to pee."
     
  2. Encourage daytime fluids.
    Encourage your child to drink a lot during the morning and early afternoon. The more your child drinks, the more urine your child will produce, and more urine leads to larger bladders.
     
  3. Discourage evening fluids.
    Discourage your child from drinking a lot during the 2 hours before bedtime. Give gentle reminders about this, but don't worry about normal amounts of drinking. Avoid any drinks containing caffeine.
     
  4. Empty the bladder at bedtime.
    Sometimes the parent needs to remind the child. Older children may respond better to a sign at their bedside or on the bathroom mirror.
     
  5. Include your child in morning clean-up. 
    Including your child as a helper in stripping the bedclothes and putting them into the washing machine provides a natural disincentive for being wet. Older children can perform this task independently. Also, make sure that your child takes a shower each morning so that he or she does not smell of urine in school.
     
  6. Respond positively to dry nights.
    Praise your child on mornings when he wakes up dry. A calendar with gold stars or happy faces for dry nights may also help.
     
  7. Respond gently to wet nights.
    Your child does not like being wet. Most bed-wetters feel quite guilty and embarrassed about this problem. They need support and encouragement, not blame or punishment. Siblings should not be allowed to tease bed-wetters. Your home needs to be a safe haven for your child. Punishment or pressure will delay a cure and cause secondary emotional problems.

 

Please alert your physician to any of the following symptoms:

  • Urination causes pain or burning.
  • The stream of urine is weak or dribbly.
  • Your child also wets during the daytime.
  • Your child also drinks excessive fluids.
  • Bedwetting is a new problem (your child used to stay dry).
  • Your child is over 12 years old.
Read more answers by Dr. Neuhaus