Revealing the truth about bedwetting

The Sacramento BeeBed-wetting elicits feelings of guilt, helplessness, and shame among children and parents. Yet, it is benign and commonplace.

How common? Fifteen percent of 5-year-olds will experience it.

There is no need for guilt, shame – or worry, for that matter. Dr. Mom is here to debunk the common myths surrounding bed-wetting and reveal the truth.

I hope the truth will ease your mind and help your children and you sleep better until this phase is over. And trust me, it is a phase. You will not be sending your child to college with a supply of pull-ups.

Trust me, you won’t….


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6 Responses to Revealing the truth about bedwetting
  1. Adrienne May
    October 4, 2011 | 9:42 am

    Love it. My 4 yr old has not mastered sleeping through the night without wetting the bed yet very well at all. My ex was very much pressuring my son and I think it made it worse because my son became very ashamed… I am glad to see this article and I have bookmarked it to share with his dad!

    • Melissa
      October 5, 2011 | 1:30 pm

      So glad and I hope you do share it with his father. Your son is still only 4. He will get it.

  2. Ruth B. Elkins
    October 5, 2011 | 8:58 am

    Dr. Mom,
    I read your Bedwetting column with interest since I was a bed-wetter until around 7 years of age. You didn’t touch on the cause of my bed-wetting, which may be the same for others. I would sleep so soundly, the urge to urinate didn’t wake me. Instead, I’d dream that I had gotten up to the toilet and then would void, only to find that I was still in bed. It was humiliating.

    • Melissa
      October 5, 2011 | 1:33 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience Ruth. Yes, being a deep sleeper is one of the main reasons bedwetters do not get up at night (in combination with increased production of nighttime urine, and possibly smaller bladders).
      Your scenario is very common. However, what is disturbing is how you felt humiliated. No child should feel that way and I’m sorry you still remember that. I plan on writing a follow up post regarding how best to handle a situation like this. Thank you for sharing with my readers.

  3. Cathy
    August 10, 2012 | 11:41 am

    You are absolutely right that, “there is no need for guilt, shame – or worry.”

    But one quibble: A few of us do go to college with a supply of pull-ups (or, as I did, a supply of Attends).

    It hasn’t kept me from getting honors degrees from an Ivy League university, marrying a great guy, having a successful career and having three terrific kids.

    Because my Mom was as caring as you advise, I never felt one minute of guilt, shame or worry — or self-pity, either. (Other than on that horrible 14-year-old night that I first woke up in a wet bed.) She never let me think for one minute that bedwetting (or, really, anything other than my own brains and ambition) would limit me in anything I did.

    This is a great blog, and your columns are on the mark and well-written. I came across this when looking for links for my own blog.

    Keep it up!

  4. megan
    November 14, 2012 | 5:33 am

    Hugs to all parents who are dealing with nightly bedwetting. I remember so well how helpless I felt to help my son. I have a child who wet the bed nightly (often several times) until he was 8 years old. Children who wet at night have a sleep pattern in which their brains do not recognize the full bladder signal when asleep. So it is definitely not laziness, its NOT their fault!
    Fo my child, at first, I just invested in a couple pair of washable, waterproof underwear this webpage has lots to choose from in lots of different sizes even waterproof boxers. And used a waterproof sheet protector to minimize the laundry.
    When my child reached the age of seven the bedwetting began to chip away at his self esteem. He began to fear his friends finding out and showed frustration about the bedwetting. We solved his bed wetting by using an alarm. The alarm trains the brain to react to the full bladder signal when asleep. He went from being wet every single night to completely dry in about 6 weeks. The bed wetting alarm has given us years of dry nights.
    My child absolutely loved the children’s book, Prince Bravery and Grace – Attack of the Wet Knights. It is the story of a young prince who struggles with “the Wet Knights” and eventually defeats them by using an alarm. It’s funny yet empathetic and gave him the understanding and motivation to end the bed wetting. has lots of positive information about solving bed wetting.
    The best advice for parents about how to stop bedwetting I found is the book, Seven Steps to Nighttime Dryness, by Renee Mercer. Invest in the books-they make the process so much easier, then an alarm -its the best decision I ever made.