How to Stop Bed Wetting in Older Children

Many children go through a period of bedwetting when they are young. It is normal for a child to wet the bed up to around age five or six. It can be frustrating for a parent to deal with the wet sheets and clothing, and it can be very frustrating and embarrassing for the child going through it. This is especially true if the child is older or even a teen. If your child is dealing with this problem, what can you do? Here are several tips for how to stop bed wetting in older children.

Why do older children wet the bed?

Some parents may feel that their child is wetting the bed on purpose or isn’t trying hard enough to stop. There are many reasons why a child may wet the bed, and most of them are not the child’s fault. Try to be understanding and not shame or embarrass your child, as it is probably at least as frustrating for them as it is for you. And yelling, punishing, or other punitive methods just do not work and could make the situation worse.

Wetting the bed until age five or a little older is pretty normal. Many children just don’t have the bladder capacity to hold it all night long until they reach age six or seven. If your child is around this age or younger, take heart. The problem may just resolve itself with time and age.

Sometimes wetting the bed runs in the family. If either parent wet the bed as a child, your child is much more likely to wet the bed as well. Some children sleep deeply and are unable to notice that they need to use the bathroom. And some may have some kind of infection or a disease causing the bed wetting.

Should we visit the doctor?

If your child wets the bed, you may want to see the doctor to get help and advice as well as to find out if there are any underlying conditions that may be causing the bed wetting. However, remember that until age six or seven, bed wetting is considered normal, so until that time it’s really not necessary to see a doctor.

The doctor will probably ask a few questions and run a few tests, including getting a urine sample and testing the child for nerve damage. He or she can also check for signs of diabetes, which can contribute to bed wetting. If an infection is the reason for the bed wetting, the doctor can prescribe something to take care of it. And if the child is healthy, the doctor may discuss treatment options with you.

Treatments for bed wetting

There are several treatments that you can use to help your child stop wetting the bed. Some of them are very simple and easy to implement. Other treatments require medication under the supervision of a doctor. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Have the child stop drinking beverages in the late afternoon and early evening.They should get most of their fluids early in the day so that there will be less need to urinate during the night.
  • Do some bladder training during the day. This is done by waiting an extra 5, 10, and then 15 minutes to urinate when your child indicates a need to go. This helps the child increase bladder capacity.
  • A moisture alarm can be placed in the child’s underwear or bed. The alarm will go off at the first drops of urine. This allows the child to get up and use the bathroom. The goal is to help the child wake up and recognize their need to urinate.
  • Wake the child up randomly in the night to use the bathroom.
  • If needed, you can get medication from the doctor that can help with bed wetting.

If you are looking for how to stop bed wetting in teenagers, the treatments are generally the same, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Remember that the pressure and shame your teenager must feel about this problem is intense. Reassure your teen that it’s not their fault and that you will help them find a solution to the problem.
  2. Help your teen get at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night, as lack of sleep can contribute to the problem.
  3. Your teen may be embarrassed, but it’s important to see a doctor. There may be a physical condition that is causing the problem.

If you have an older child who wets the bed, it can be quite frustrating, and you may despair that the situation will never resolve. But it’s important to remember that your child is also frustrated about the problem. Wetting the bed can be horrifying and embarrassing to the child, especially as he or she gets older. So remember to treat the child with dignity and respect, and resolve to help the child with this problem. It may take some hard work and a lot of dedication, but there is definitely hope. Most cases of bed wetting can resolve with treatment.

About Holli Ronquillo

I'm a freelance writer, mom, wife, and sleep connoisseur (not necessarily in that order). When I'm not sleeping or chasing a toddler around, I'm usually writing or reading.


  1. Hi Holli,

    Additionally, kids may wet the bed because of constipation (the stool will put pressure on the bladder). Parents should watch out for this, and the signs of constipation are not always obvious. Another reason for bedwetting may be bad potty habits during the day. For example, kids withhold for whatever reason during the day. The same behaviour will continue during the night, the only difference is that children won’t be able to “hold it in” while they sleep.

    Hope this helps.