What to do if your child is bedwetting

Estimated read: 6 minutes 

There are many different strategies recommended to help parents deal with their child’s bedwetting. Bedwetting is common and affects most children at some point or another. They are likely to grow out of it, for some it just takes a little longer than others.

Key points: 

  • Avoid using pull-up pants or nappies as these ensure your child no longer feels wet when they urinate, delaying them learning to be dry
  • Invest in a mattress protector as this can help you keep your mattress dry and minimise chores for you
  • Find a system that works well with your child and be patient as your child will get there in the end. However, if it does persist, speak to your GP or Health Visitor for advice

Golden rules to help with bedwetting

1. No pull-up pants or nappies: these ensure your child no longer feels wet when they urinate, delaying them learning to be dry. Throw them all out, says Alicia Eaton, a Children’s Wellbeing Specialist based in Harley Street and the author of ‘Stop Bedwetting in 7 Days’ because by keeping some back ‘for emergencies’ you are programming your child to fail.

2. No ‘lifting’ Don’t wake your child just as you are going to bed to ‘encourage’ them to have one last wee, she says. This actively trains your child to wee – half-asleep - in the night.

3. No reward systems Alicia says the most helpful way to get your child motivated and successful is to focus on the ‘goal’ itself – ‘dry beds forever’ and the benefits that will bring – sleepovers, holidays and so on - rather than the ‘prize’ – which can actually distract your child and make it harder for them to succeed.

4. Drink water. Don’t restrict fluids but stick to plain water where possible. Some children are more likely to have a wet bed after drinking sugary, fizzy or caffeinated drinks.

In the meantime, while helping your child to change their habits, you may want to invest in a ‘matress protector’ sheet. There are now sheets available which don’t feel or sound plastic, and can be dried in a tumble drier.

Does it work?

Yes, says Helen Robinson, 48, from York, mum to Matthew 13, Paul, 11 and Natasha, seven: “I’d never had bed-wetting problems with my eldest child Matthew. But my second child, Paul had been a bed-wetter until he was about 10 and Natasha also had problems. When a few months ago, she wet my bed twice, after getting in at night following bad dreams, I knew I had to do something.

"I’d taken her to the GP to check she didn’t have a urine infection which might be causing her bed-wetting. So, when I came across Alicia’s method, I decided to give it a go. I’d given up using pull-up pants previously after discovering protective sheeting that I put on the bed under her sheet. But I had been ‘lifting’ her out at night, which I stopped. As for reward charts, I was pretty useless at sticking to them so it was a relief to abandon that idea! I downloaded the audio recording and listened to it with Natasha every night for seven nights. I’d explained to her that if she listened to it faithfully it would stop her wetting the bed and she would be able to have the sleepovers she wanted. Although it was time-consuming, we stuck with the system faithfully and I think it really helped that she truly believed it would work. We haven’t had a wet bed since!”

Further resources 

For further advice on bedwetting, daytime wetting and other incontinence issues, visit ERICIt may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at askus@familylives.org.uk or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker. Alternatively, you can speak to your Health Visitor for some guidance. The NHS website has lots of helpful information too on bedwetting. 

Watch our video for more tips

This page was updated on July 2021

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