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Bed-Wetting: Should My Child See a Doctor?

You may want to have a say in this decision, or you may simply want to follow your doctor's recommendation. Either way, this information will help you understand what your choices are so that you can talk to your doctor about them.

Bed-Wetting: Should My Child See a Doctor?

Get the facts

Your options

  • See a doctor to check for possible causes of the bed-wetting.
  • Wait, and manage the bed-wetting at home.

Key points to remember

  • Most children stop wetting the bed on their own. Gaining bladder control is a normal part of growth that takes longer in some children. In most cases, a doctor can tell without any tests whether your child's wetting may be caused by a medical problem.
  • If your child has symptoms such as a fever, belly pain, or pain during urination, the wetting may be caused by a urinary tract infection. If so, you should schedule a doctor visit.
  • If your child has been dry for 3 months or longer and has begun to wet the bed again, he or she may have a urinary tract infection or other health problem. Stress can also cause a child who has been dry to begin wetting again. You may want to schedule a doctor visit.
  • An exam for bed-wetting should be no more stressful for your child than going for a routine checkup. Your doctor will look for any health problem that might cause your child to wet the bed. And if a problem isn't found, your doctor may suggest ways that your child can learn how to gain control over his or her bladder.
FAQs

When is it normal for a child to gain bladder control?

Children gain bladder control at different ages. Although most children can stay dry through the night by age 5 or 6, some children take longer. A few may still wet now and then until age 10 and older. If a child is otherwise healthy and seems to have more dry nights as he or she gets older, the bed-wetting most likely does not have a medical cause.

What can an exam for possible causes of bed-wetting show?

Exams and tests rarely show a cause for bed-wetting. The doctor will check your child and ask questions about the bed-wetting. A careful medical history and exam usually are all that is needed to reassure you and your child that there is nothing physically wrong.

Sometimes a urinary tract infection can cause accidental wetting, especially if a child who has been dry starts to wet again (secondary enuresis). Urine tests commonly are done to help find a possible infection.

If there is a medical reason for a child's wetting, there usually are signs other than bed-wetting. These signs, such as a urine stream that doesn't flow normally, can often be found during an exam. If the doctor notices something unusual about the child's urine stream (spraying, stops and starts), he or she may suggest some tests. A problem with the way the urinary tract is formed is rarely the cause of accidental wetting.

How can seeing a doctor for bed-wetting affect your child?

An exam for bed-wetting should be no more stressful for your child than going for a routine checkup. But your child may feel uneasy talking to a doctor about bed-wetting. Your child may feel that it's his or her fault that he or she wets the bed. Reassure your child that there is nothing to be ashamed of and that it's normal for some children to take longer to gain bladder control than others.

If you decide to take your child to the doctor, you may want to talk to your child ahead of time about what to expect during the visit. This may help ease any stress your child may feel about going to the doctor. Your doctor will look for any health problem that might cause your child to wet the bed.

If a health problem isn't found, your doctor may suggest ways that you can help manage your child's bed-wetting at home, such as having your child use the toilet before going to bed. Or your doctor may suggest ways that your child can learn how to gain control over his or her bladder.

What are the risks of not seeing the doctor for bed-wetting?

There is very little risk to not taking your child to the doctor. You and your doctor may agree to wait a few months and see whether your child begins to gain better bladder control and have more dry nights. If things don't go as you expect, you can discuss having your child checked at that point.

Why might your doctor recommend a visit to discuss your child's bed-wetting?

Your doctor might recommend that you schedule a visit if:

  • Your child has symptoms such as a fever, belly pain, or pain during urination. These may be signs of a urinary tract infection.
  • Your child had been dry for 3 months or longer and has begun to wet again. This may be a sign of a health problem, such as stress or a urinary tract infection.
  • You are worried about how bed-wetting affects your relationship with your child or your child's relationships with other children.
  • You are concerned that your child age 7 or older should have stopped wetting by now.

Compare your options

Compare

What is usually involved?









What are the benefits?









What are the risks and side effects?









See the doctor See the doctor
  • Your doctor will ask you and your child questions and will do an exam.
  • Your doctor may do tests, such as a urine test, if he or she thinks that there is a medical cause for the bed-wetting.
  • The doctor visit can find out if there is a medical cause for the bed-wetting.
  • Your doctor may suggest ways that you can help manage your child's bed-wetting at home, such as having your child use the toilet before going to bed. Or your doctor may suggest ways that your child can learn how to gain control over his or her bladder.
  • Your child may feel anxious about going to the doctor to talk about bed-wetting.
  • You may spend time and money on a doctor visit that may not help your child stop wetting the bed.
Don't see the doctor Don't see the doctor
  • You wait to see if the bed-wetting gets better on its own.
  • You can try home treatments to stop the bed-wetting.
  • You avoid any stress and anxiety that seeing the doctor may cause your child.
  • You don't have to pay for a doctor visit.
  • You may spend time and money on home treatment methods that may not help your child stop wetting the bed.

Personal stories

Are you interested in what others decided to do? Many people have faced this decision. These personal stories may help you decide.

Personal stories about scheduling a doctor visit to discuss a child's bed-wetting

These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.

My two daughters stopped wetting the bed when they were 4 or 5, but my son, who's 7, still does it about twice a week. Neither my wife nor I wet the bed as children, so we don't really have any experience with it, and it's just a little concerning to us. We've arranged to talk to our pediatrician about it just to set our minds at ease.

Jorge, age 36

I wet the bed until I was at least 10 or 11, so I wasn't too surprised when my own daughter continued doing it even after she was 7 years old. My husband was a little more concerned, but I told him that it's perfectly normal for some kids and that she's very healthy. My own parents were not so laid back, and I remember having all sorts of scary tests and being at the doctor's office all the time—and there was nothing wrong with me. I don't want to put my daughter through that because I really don't think there is any need.

Lynn, age 29

No one in my family or my husband's family ever wet the bed, so we don't have any experience in dealing with it. Frankly, we are a little concerned about our 8-year-old, who regularly wets several times a week. It doesn't seem to bother him much, so we are going to talk to the doctor first and see if she thinks there is anything to worry about. We don't want to draw attention to it if there's no need to, but we need some advice.

Marga, age 38

One good thing about being the youngest in the family is that you get to learn from all your siblings as they raise their kids. I started to get worried when my son was still wetting the bed at age 9, but my sisters told me that their sons all did the same thing and that it really was pretty normal. That eased my mind a lot. I was all set to take him to the doctor for a full work up, but they assured me that it probably would just go away on its own.

Tyrell, age 45

We have tried a lot of home methods to manage our daughter's bed-wetting, but it still happens. She seems to be very upset by it and says she feels like a "baby." We try to reassure her that she isn't the only one and that she is perfectly normal, but it doesn't seem to help. We decided that because she is so concerned, we will talk with our doctor about it and see if there is anything we can do to help ease her mind.

John, age 40

What matters most to you?

Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.

Reasons to see a doctor for bed-wetting

Reasons not to see a doctor for bed-wetting

I am worried about my child's bed-wetting.

My child's bed-wetting doesn't concern me right now.

More important
Equally important
More important

The bed-wetting upsets my child.

My child isn't worried about the bed-wetting.

More important
Equally important
More important

I think it would help my child to know that there is no medical reason for the bed-wetting.

Going to the doctor might make my child more anxious and upset about the bed-wetting.

More important
Equally important
More important

My other important reasons:

My other important reasons:

More important
Equally important
More important

Where are you leaning now?

Now that you've thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.

Seeing a doctor for bed-wetting

NOT seeing a doctor for bed-wetting

Leaning toward
Undecided
Leaning toward

What else do you need to make your decision?

Check the facts

1.

Do most children outgrow bed-wetting on their own?

  • YesThat's right. Some children take longer than others, but most children outgrow bed-wetting on their own.
  • NoSorry, that's not right. Some children take longer than others, but most children outgrow bed-wetting on their own.
  • I'm not sureIt may help to go back and read "Get the Facts." Some children take longer than others, but most children outgrow bed-wetting on their own.
2.

Should you schedule a doctor visit if your child is wetting the bed and has symptoms such as a fever, belly pain, or pain during urination?

  • YesThat's right. Fever, belly pain, or pain during urination can be signs that your child's bed-wetting is caused by a health problem, such as a urinary tract infection. It's a good idea to see the doctor if your child has those symptoms.
  • NoSorry, that's not right. Fever, belly pain, or pain during urination can be signs that your child's bed-wetting is caused by a health problem, such as a urinary tract infection. It's a good idea to see the doctor if your child has those symptoms.
  • I'm not sureIt may help to go back and read "Get the Facts." Fever, belly pain, or pain during urination can be signs that your child has a health problem, such as a urinary tract infection. It's a good idea to see the doctor if your child has those symptoms.
3.

Should you see a doctor if your child begins to wet the bed again after being dry at night for 3 months or longer?

  • YesThat's right. It's a good idea to see a doctor if your child begins to wet the bed again after being dry at night for 3 months or longer. This can be a sign that a urinary tract infection or stress is causing your child's bed-wetting.
  • NoNo, that's not right. It's a good idea to see a doctor if your child begins to wet the bed again after being dry at night for 3 months or longer. This can be a sign that a urinary tract infection or stress is causing your child's bed-wetting.
  • I'm not sureIt may help to go back and read "Get the Facts." It's a good idea to see a doctor if your child begins to wet the bed again after being dry at night for 3 months or longer.

Decide what's next

1.

Do you understand the options available to you?

2.

Are you clear about which benefits and side effects matter most to you?

3.

Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?

Certainty

1.

How sure do you feel right now about your decision?

Not sure at all
Somewhat sure
Very sure
3.

Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.

Your Summary

Here's a record of your answers. You can use it to talk with your doctor or loved ones about your decision.

Your decision 

Next steps

Which way you're leaning

How sure you are

Your comments

Your knowledge of the facts 

Key concepts that you understood

Key concepts that may need review

Getting ready to act 

Patient choices

Credits

Credits
Author Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
You may want to have a say in this decision, or you may simply want to follow your doctor's recommendation. Either way, this information will help you understand what your choices are so that you can talk to your doctor about them.

Bed-Wetting: Should My Child See a Doctor?

Here's a record of your answers. You can use it to talk with your doctor or loved ones about your decision.
  1. Get the facts
  2. Compare your options
  3. What matters most to you?
  4. Where are you leaning now?
  5. What else do you need to make your decision?

1. Get the Facts

Your options

  • See a doctor to check for possible causes of the bed-wetting.
  • Wait, and manage the bed-wetting at home.

Key points to remember

  • Most children stop wetting the bed on their own. Gaining bladder control is a normal part of growth that takes longer in some children. In most cases, a doctor can tell without any tests whether your child's wetting may be caused by a medical problem.
  • If your child has symptoms such as a fever, belly pain, or pain during urination, the wetting may be caused by a urinary tract infection. If so, you should schedule a doctor visit.
  • If your child has been dry for 3 months or longer and has begun to wet the bed again, he or she may have a urinary tract infection or other health problem. Stress can also cause a child who has been dry to begin wetting again. You may want to schedule a doctor visit.
  • An exam for bed-wetting should be no more stressful for your child than going for a routine checkup. Your doctor will look for any health problem that might cause your child to wet the bed. And if a problem isn't found, your doctor may suggest ways that your child can learn how to gain control over his or her bladder.
FAQs

When is it normal for a child to gain bladder control?

Children gain bladder control at different ages. Although most children can stay dry through the night by age 5 or 6, some children take longer. A few may still wet now and then until age 10 and older. If a child is otherwise healthy and seems to have more dry nights as he or she gets older, the bed-wetting most likely does not have a medical cause.

What can an exam for possible causes of bed-wetting show?

Exams and tests rarely show a cause for bed-wetting. The doctor will check your child and ask questions about the bed-wetting. A careful medical history and exam usually are all that is needed to reassure you and your child that there is nothing physically wrong.

Sometimes a urinary tract infection can cause accidental wetting, especially if a child who has been dry starts to wet again (secondary enuresis). Urine tests commonly are done to help find a possible infection.

If there is a medical reason for a child's wetting, there usually are signs other than bed-wetting. These signs, such as a urine stream that doesn't flow normally, can often be found during an exam. If the doctor notices something unusual about the child's urine stream (spraying, stops and starts), he or she may suggest some tests. A problem with the way the urinary tract is formed is rarely the cause of accidental wetting.

How can seeing a doctor for bed-wetting affect your child?

An exam for bed-wetting should be no more stressful for your child than going for a routine checkup. But your child may feel uneasy talking to a doctor about bed-wetting. Your child may feel that it's his or her fault that he or she wets the bed. Reassure your child that there is nothing to be ashamed of and that it's normal for some children to take longer to gain bladder control than others.

If you decide to take your child to the doctor, you may want to talk to your child ahead of time about what to expect during the visit. This may help ease any stress your child may feel about going to the doctor. Your doctor will look for any health problem that might cause your child to wet the bed.

If a health problem isn't found, your doctor may suggest ways that you can help manage your child's bed-wetting at home, such as having your child use the toilet before going to bed. Or your doctor may suggest ways that your child can learn how to gain control over his or her bladder.

What are the risks of not seeing the doctor for bed-wetting?

There is very little risk to not taking your child to the doctor. You and your doctor may agree to wait a few months and see whether your child begins to gain better bladder control and have more dry nights. If things don't go as you expect, you can discuss having your child checked at that point.

Why might your doctor recommend a visit to discuss your child's bed-wetting?

Your doctor might recommend that you schedule a visit if:

  • Your child has symptoms such as a fever, belly pain, or pain during urination. These may be signs of a urinary tract infection.
  • Your child had been dry for 3 months or longer and has begun to wet again. This may be a sign of a health problem, such as stress or a urinary tract infection.
  • You are worried about how bed-wetting affects your relationship with your child or your child's relationships with other children.
  • You are concerned that your child age 7 or older should have stopped wetting by now.

2. Compare your options

  See the doctor Don't see the doctor
What is usually involved?
  • Your doctor will ask you and your child questions and will do an exam.
  • Your doctor may do tests, such as a urine test, if he or she thinks that there is a medical cause for the bed-wetting.
  • You wait to see if the bed-wetting gets better on its own.
  • You can try home treatments to stop the bed-wetting.
What are the benefits?
  • The doctor visit can find out if there is a medical cause for the bed-wetting.
  • Your doctor may suggest ways that you can help manage your child's bed-wetting at home, such as having your child use the toilet before going to bed. Or your doctor may suggest ways that your child can learn how to gain control over his or her bladder.
  • You avoid any stress and anxiety that seeing the doctor may cause your child.
  • You don't have to pay for a doctor visit.
What are the risks and side effects?
  • Your child may feel anxious about going to the doctor to talk about bed-wetting.
  • You may spend time and money on a doctor visit that may not help your child stop wetting the bed.
  • You may spend time and money on home treatment methods that may not help your child stop wetting the bed.

Personal stories

Are you interested in what others decided to do? Many people have faced this decision. These personal stories may help you decide.

Personal stories about scheduling a doctor visit to discuss a child's bed-wetting

These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.

"My two daughters stopped wetting the bed when they were 4 or 5, but my son, who's 7, still does it about twice a week. Neither my wife nor I wet the bed as children, so we don't really have any experience with it, and it's just a little concerning to us. We've arranged to talk to our pediatrician about it just to set our minds at ease."

— Jorge, age 36

"I wet the bed until I was at least 10 or 11, so I wasn't too surprised when my own daughter continued doing it even after she was 7 years old. My husband was a little more concerned, but I told him that it's perfectly normal for some kids and that she's very healthy. My own parents were not so laid back, and I remember having all sorts of scary tests and being at the doctor's office all the time—and there was nothing wrong with me. I don't want to put my daughter through that because I really don't think there is any need."

— Lynn, age 29

"No one in my family or my husband's family ever wet the bed, so we don't have any experience in dealing with it. Frankly, we are a little concerned about our 8-year-old, who regularly wets several times a week. It doesn't seem to bother him much, so we are going to talk to the doctor first and see if she thinks there is anything to worry about. We don't want to draw attention to it if there's no need to, but we need some advice."

— Marga, age 38

"One good thing about being the youngest in the family is that you get to learn from all your siblings as they raise their kids. I started to get worried when my son was still wetting the bed at age 9, but my sisters told me that their sons all did the same thing and that it really was pretty normal. That eased my mind a lot. I was all set to take him to the doctor for a full work up, but they assured me that it probably would just go away on its own."

— Tyrell, age 45

"We have tried a lot of home methods to manage our daughter's bed-wetting, but it still happens. She seems to be very upset by it and says she feels like a "baby." We try to reassure her that she isn't the only one and that she is perfectly normal, but it doesn't seem to help. We decided that because she is so concerned, we will talk with our doctor about it and see if there is anything we can do to help ease her mind."

— John, age 40

3. What matters most to you?

Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.

Reasons to see a doctor for bed-wetting

Reasons not to see a doctor for bed-wetting

I am worried about my child's bed-wetting.

My child's bed-wetting doesn't concern me right now.

             
More important
Equally important
More important

The bed-wetting upsets my child.

My child isn't worried about the bed-wetting.

             
More important
Equally important
More important

I think it would help my child to know that there is no medical reason for the bed-wetting.

Going to the doctor might make my child more anxious and upset about the bed-wetting.

             
More important
Equally important
More important

My other important reasons:

My other important reasons:

   
             
More important
Equally important
More important

4. Where are you leaning now?

Now that you've thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.

Seeing a doctor for bed-wetting

NOT seeing a doctor for bed-wetting

             
Leaning toward
Undecided
Leaning toward

5. What else do you need to make your decision?

Check the facts

1. Do most children outgrow bed-wetting on their own?

  • Yes
  • No
  • I'm not sure
That's right. Some children take longer than others, but most children outgrow bed-wetting on their own.

2. Should you schedule a doctor visit if your child is wetting the bed and has symptoms such as a fever, belly pain, or pain during urination?

  • Yes
  • No
  • I'm not sure
That's right. Fever, belly pain, or pain during urination can be signs that your child's bed-wetting is caused by a health problem, such as a urinary tract infection. It's a good idea to see the doctor if your child has those symptoms.

3. Should you see a doctor if your child begins to wet the bed again after being dry at night for 3 months or longer?

  • Yes
  • No
  • I'm not sure
That's right. It's a good idea to see a doctor if your child begins to wet the bed again after being dry at night for 3 months or longer. This can be a sign that a urinary tract infection or stress is causing your child's bed-wetting.

Decide what's next

1. Do you understand the options available to you?

2. Are you clear about which benefits and side effects matter most to you?

3. Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?

Certainty

1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?

         
Not sure at all
Somewhat sure
Very sure

2. Check what you need to do before you make this decision.

  • I'm ready to take action.
  • I want to discuss the options with others.
  • I want to learn more about my options.

3. Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.

 
Credits
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics

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