Bedwetting enquiries are a common feature of our helpline conversations. Our helpline advisors have written their answers to the most frequently asked questions.

1. My seven year old daughter is wet every night. She gets upset if I suggest she stops wearing pull-ups at nighttime. What should I do?

Reassure your daughter how common bedwetting is at her age and that it’s not her fault. Up to one in 10 seven year olds wet the bed, that means about two of her class mates do it too. Suggest sleeping without pull-ups for a week and make sure her bed is well protected (a Brolly Sheet, available in our shop, can make changing the bed much easier and saves washing the lower sheets).

Waking in a wet bed can raise awareness of wetting and prompt some children to be dry. However, for others it may make no difference and make them feel even worse.

It’s best not to go in and out of pull-ups as this can be confusing for your child. Decide what’s best for you all at the moment. It's OK if your daughter is less stressed wearing pull-ups for the time being, but encourage her to take a look at our information for children to help her understand why she’s wetting the bed and the tips she can follow to get dry.

2. My son never wakes up when he wets the bed. Does he have accidents because he sleeps too deeply?

It is generally accepted that some children don't wake up and wet themselves because they don’t pick up the bladder’s signal that it needs to empty, rather than because they're in a deep sleep. In fact, recent research has indicated that children who wet the bed have poor sleep quality with many incomplete arousals.

A bedwetting alarm, which goes off as soon as the child starts to wet the bed, could help train your son to wake up when his bladder is full and needs to be emptied. After a while, his brain will learn to respond to his bladder’s signal before the alarm goes off. Take a look at ERIC’s Guide to Night Time Wetting for tips on using bedwetting alarms effectively.

3. How long should it take for a bedwetting alarm to work?

It takes time for a bedwetting alarm to work - children need to get used to waking up and responding to it - so start with realistic expectations. A key factor in the success of an alarm is your child's motivation to get dry at night. It's a difficult process, so make sure you give your child lots of praise and support for simply wearing the alarm, going to the toilet and changing their pants and bedding, and not just for the nights they stay dry. 

Progress might just be small wet patches at first; keep going until you’ve had 14 dry nights in a row and then you can stop. If there’s been no progress after 12 weeks, stop the treatment and have a break for a few months before trying again.

For more help with alarms take a look at Bedwetting Alarms: Your Questions Answered or contact our helpline advisors.

4. Is it true that bedwetting is caused by psychological issues?

No, bedwetting isn’t caused directly by psychological issues, although it may in turn cause psychological problems, especially low self-esteem. Bedwetting is also associated with an increased risk of behavioural problems such as ADHD.

Periods of change and stress in a child’s life can explain why they may suddenly start to wet again (known as 'late-onset' or 'secondary enuresis'). This occurs because the hormone that regulates how much wee is produced at night, vasopressin, is affected by anxiety. So, if the child is anxious, they produce less vasopressin, and as a result produce large quantities of dilute wee that the bladder can't hold, so they wet the bed.

Any psychological or behavioural problem should be managed independently of the bedwetting symptoms.

5. I wake my son up a couple of times a night and take him to the toilet but he still wets the bed. Why is this and should I keep doing it?

Lots of families ‘lift’ their children, but this is managing bedwetting rather than curing it. It will help to get a dry bed rather than a dry child as you are deciding when they should do a wee rather than them responding to their own full bladder signal. ‘Lifting’ can be helpful when a child first stops wearing nappies at night, however; if you do lift, make sure you put the light on and the child is fully awake.

6. My daughter is five and really keen to get dry at night but our GP and local bedwetting clinic say we have to wait until she’s seven. What can we do in the meantime?

According to the NICE guidelines on the management of bedwetting in children and young people, all children who wet the bed should be seen by a health professional from the age of five years. A doctor or school nurse can make a referral for your daughter to be seen at a clinic in your area.

The clinic will try to work out the main reasons why your daughter is wet and help you choose the most appropriate treatment. You can also get lots of information and support by calling our helpline.

7. I’m finding it very difficult to encourage my teenage son to care about his bedwetting. I find wet sheets hidden in his bedroom and he acts as though there’s no problem. How can I help him?

It’s common for older children to deny their bedwetting – it’s something which is happening outside their conscious control and they may secretly worry about it.

Encourage your son to keep a diary of his wetting to see if he can spot a pattern to it. Tell him about the teens section of our website which highlights the experiences of other adolescents who have bowel and bladder problems.

8. My eight year old daughter has additional needs and is still wet at night. Will I ever get her out of night time nappies?

All children should be seen at a bedwetting clinic from five years old. Regardless of what her additional needs are, it’s important to make sure your daughter is properly assessed for her bedwetting so that something like constipation, which could be causing the wetting, isn’t overlooked.

There are alarms available for children with additional needs which vibrate and flash. These are less daunting for a child on the autistic spectrum, for example. Speak to our customer service coordinator for further guidance on choosing the right bedwetting alarm.

9. My son is going on a summer camp and is worried his friends will find out he still wets the bed. How can I prepare him to make the trip easier?

Lots of children feel self-conscious about wetting at night and worry their friends might discover their ‘secret’ and tease them. Reassure your son that wetting the bed is common and the chances are he won’t be the only one on the trip who has wetting accidents when he's asleep.

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 like this. Your son would need to try it before the trip to work out the right dose and make sure it helps him to be dry.

The ERIC shop sells sleeping bag liners which are a discreet way for a child to manage their wetting whilst they’re away from home. 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!

Read our leaflet Nights Away – No Worries for more useful information on managing bedwetting when away from home.

10. My daughter has been taking Desmopressin for a few months now but it’s made no difference. Why might that be?

It’s important to make sure that any underlying causes, such as constipation, were ruled out or treated before your daughter was prescribed Desmopressin. Was an initial assessment of her bladder and bowels carried out by a health professional?

If no other underlying causes are a factor, check with your doctor whether you can increase the dose of Desmopressin and make sure your daughter is taking it correctly: she should not have any fluids for an hour before taking it and for eight hours afterwards.

It can be more effective to take Desmopressin an hour before going to sleep so that it’s already working on slowing wee production as the child goes to bed. However, this needs to fit in with your daughter’s lifestyle; it may not be practical, for example, if she plays sports in the evening and comes home thirsty not long before her bedtime.

ERIC’s Guide to Night Time Wetting has more tips on using Desmopressin.