ERIC’s helpline advisor Kate supports many parents and carers who contact our bladder and bowel helpline because their children are bedwetting and have reached the age of spending their first night away from home and having sleepovers. 

I recently spoke to a mum of an eleven-year-old boy who wets the bed several times a week. She's desperate to get help to resolve his bladder problem and told me about the added pressure of a school camp which is hanging over the whole family. It’s several months away, but her son is feeling so anxious about the possibility of having an accident during the trip that he would rather not go. It's something we hear from a lot of the parents who contact us about bedwetting. What should be such an exciting time in their child’s life can become a total nightmare for the whole family.

Her son is feeling so anxious about the possibility of having an accident during school camp that he would rather not go. 

It makes me very sad to think that there are children out there who are missing out on everyday enjoyable things like scout camp and sleepovers. I hope this blog offers some comfort and practical suggestions for a worry-free night away.

Fear of being ‘found out’ 

Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis, affects the daily lives of half a million children and teenagers in the UK. On top of dealing with worries about bullying and fitting in with friends, there’s the added fear that their ‘secret’ may be found out and the teasing this can lead to. The thought of having a night away from home or a sleepover with friends can become a terrifying prospect for them. One teenager told ERIC: “I really have no idea what to do any more. I'm fourteen and all I do when I'm alone is cry. I can't go on sleepovers; I can’t even get my friends over or sleep in a tent without wetting the bed. I've gone to the doctors and all they say is you will grow out of it. I'm sick to death of it.” 

Here are some tips for worry free nights away that aren't ruined by bedwetting... 

Remember: it’s not your fault and you’re not the only one 

It’s important that children and teenagers are reassured that they aren’t the only ones who have night time accidents and it’s not their fault. Bedwetting is a common childhood condition which can and should be treated. To get help with managing and stopping this condition, children should be seen by a health professional such as a GP or school nurse from the age of five.

Plan ahead

  • Talk to the trip leaders in advance so that they’re aware and can look out for your child. They could arrange to wake your child before their friends so they can deal with a wet bed and get changed in private. Teenagers may want to set their mobile phone alarm to wake them earlier than everyone else.  
  • Desmopressin, the medicine which ‘tops up’ the body’s levels of the hormone vasopressin and tells the kidneys to produce less wee at night, can be taken regularly every night or just for trips away. Children and teenagers need to try it before a trip to work out the right dose and make sure it helps them to be dry.
  • Try putting a pull up in the bottom of a sleeping bag so it’s already there to wriggle into when the other children in the room have gone to sleep. Have a plastic bag packed so you can pop it in there along with any wet clothes the next morning.
  • Some children keep a bottle of water by the side of the bed so they can tip this over their bedding in the morning and pretend they’re wet because they spilled it!
  • Try to think positively – it’s quite common to have a dry night when you sleep away from home because being in a new place can help you to wake up when you need to wee.
  • Having a date to focus on can also be a useful motivating tool particularly if you're thinking about using a bedwetting alarm.    
  • Remember to empty your bladder before you get into bed and avoid drinks especially anything fizzy or hot chocolate too close to bedtime.
  • The ERIC shop sells a range of products including Pjama pants and sleeping bag liners which are a discreet way for a child to manage their wetting whilst they’re away from home. Find out more about using sleeping bag liners by watching this video:                                                                                  

Further help and support

Read our leaflet Nights Away – No Worries and 'Dealing with my problem on nights away from homefor lots of more practical tips.  

Find out why bedwetting happens and how it should be treated and managed.