It is normal for children to occasionally wet the bed up until the age of five years old. Not all children will wet the bed. Some become dry at night and never turn back, but many kids do wet the bed, either frequently, or once in a while, up until the age of five or six. Bedwetting in young children is very rarely a sign that there is something health-related to be concerned about. Usually, the child’s body is simply not developed enough to stay dry overnight. Time and patience are almost always the best remedies for young bedwetters.
About 15 percent of children over the age of five will continue to wet the bed. Again, it is usually a sign of slower physical development, or the child may continue to make a lot of urine at night. Sometimes, the child is simply a very sound sleeper.
Bedwetting over the age of five is far more common among boys than girls, and it is often hereditary. If a male child has a parent who was a bedwetter, there is a 50 percent chance that he will wet the bed past the age of five, too. Children who wet the bed have no control over the bedwetting, and it is rarely a sign of an emotional problem, unless the child was dry at night and begins to wet the bed after a stressful event.
In rare cases, bedwetting is caused by physical problems that run beyond mere development. For example, bedwetting can be a sign of a urinary tract infection. In this case, the child will have been dry at night prior, and will usually have pain and burning when urinating. If your child shows these signs, a doctor will examine a urine specimen to determine if the child has a urinary tract infection, and if one is found, a round of antibiotics should fix the problem.
Bedwetting can also be a sign of diabetes. Bedwetting in a child who also frequently seems thirsty or hungry needs to be evaluated by the child’s physician, because diabetes causes increased thirst and appetite, as well as frequent urination.
There is a link between bedwetting and ADHD. If you have a child who has attention problems, or is hyperactive, and also wets the bed, the child should be evaluated for ADHD. Sometimes children with ADHD are treated with medication for the ADHD, and the bedwetting disappears in the process. Your child’s doctor will advise you on what he or she feels is the best route to take with your child.
Constipation and bedwetting are also closely tied together, since constipation can cause irritation to the child’s bladder. If your child is constipated frequently, keep a chart to see if the bedwetting coincides with the times that the child is constipated. At the same time, take a look at your child’s diet to see what you can do to increase the fiber and reduce the constipation issues. See if that helps with the bedwetting. If you have no luck, see your pediatrician, because frequent constipation requires attention.
As mentioned, in most cases, a child will eventually outgrow bedwetting, and there is no real health or emotional problem present. Be kind, gentle, and patient with your bedwetting child, and if you are worried there is no harm in seeing the child’s doctor. Most bedwetting children will grow out of it and will not need the help of a physician. However, if your child wets the bed and is showing some of the physical signs outlined above, see your doctor as promptly as possible so that he or she can rule out a more serious health problem that might be underlying your child’s bedwetting.
Kimberly L. Keith, “Bedwetting,” About.com.