Most children stop wetting the bed as they get older, but there are a number of treatments you can try in the meantime.
Self-help for bedwetting
These measures may help prevent bedwetting.
Offer plenty of drinks during the day
Make sure your child has enough to drink during the day – see guidance on how much fluid your child should be having. It's best to avoid drinks for an hour before bedtime.
Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, such as cola, tea, coffee or hot chocolate, because they increase the urge to wee.
Encourage regular toilet breaks
Encourage your child to go to the toilet regularly during the day. Make sure your child has a wee before going to bed and can get to the toilet easily during the night.
Try a reward scheme
Bedwetting isn't something your child can control, so rewards shouldn't be based on whether they wet the bed or not.
Instead, you may want to give rewards for things like:
- having plenty of drinks during the day
- remembering to have a wee before bed
If your reward scheme isn't working after about a week, it's best to stop and try something else.
It's important not to punish your child or withdraw treats if they wet the bed. This could put them under more stress, which could lead to more bedwetting, not less.
Tips for managing bedwetting
- Make sure your child has easy access to the toilet at night. For example, if they have a bunk bed, they should sleep on the bottom bunk. You could also leave a light on in the bathroom and put a child's seat on the toilet.
- Use waterproof covers on your child's mattress and duvet.
- Avoid waking your child in the night or carrying them to the toilet, as it's not likely to help them in the long term.
- Older children may want to change their own bedding at night, so make sure they have clean bedding and nightclothes handy.
If you or your child are finding it difficult to cope with bedwetting, talk to your GP.
If self-help tips don't help, a bedwetting alarm is usually the next step.
A bedwetting alarm has a sensor attached to an alarm. If the sensor gets wet, it sets the alarm off and wakes your child up.
You can also get vibrating alarms for children who have impaired hearing.
Where can you get bedwetting alarms?
Bedwetting alarms aren't available on the NHS, but you may be able to borrow one from your local enuresis or continence clinic. Your GP can tell you more.
You can also buy bedwetting alarms. ERIC, The Children's Bowel and Bladder Charity, sells them for around £40 to £140, depending on the type. Or you can buy one elsewhere online.
How do they work?
Over time, the alarm should help your child to learn when they need to wee and wake up to go to the toilet.
It may help to reward your child for getting up when the alarm sounds and remembering to reset the alarm.
Bedwetting alarms usually need to be used for at least four weeks. If there are no signs of improvement after four weeks, speak to your doctor.
Bedwetting alarms aren't suitable for every child – for example, if they are sharing a room with a sibling.
Medicines for bedwetting
If a bedwetting alarm doesn't help or isn't suitable, treatment with medicines is usually recommended.
Your GP may suggest a medicine called desmopressin. This helps reduce the amount of wee produced by the kidneys. It's taken just before your child goes to bed.
If desmopressin or a bedwetting alarm (or a combination of both) doesn't help, your child may be referred to a specialist, who may recommend other medicines.