Misconception No. 1: Bedwetting’s root cause is laziness; it happens when a child just can’t be bothered to get up and go to the toilet in time.
The facts: Bedwetting has nothing to do with laziness. Nighttime accidents are very common in children up to around age 7. Young children’s bladders are small and may not be able to hold the urine all night long. What’s more, your child might not yet have enough body awareness to wake up when he is feeling the urge to pee.
Misconception No. 2: Children don’t outgrow bedwetting on their own.
The facts: In fact, they usually do. If your child is 6 or under, relax and give him some time. And if changing all those sheets is getting tiresome, put him in a diaper or pull-up. Eventually, your child will be motivated to leave that diaper and pull-up behind and sleep through the night – and stay dry – in big-kid undies.
Misconception No. 3: Stress and anxiety cause bedwetting.
The facts: Stress and anxiety don’t cause bedwetting, though bedwetting can certainly cause stress and anxiety, which can indirectly exacerbate bedwetting. Common causes for bedwetting include slow bladder maturation, a small bladder, genetics (bedwetting tends to run in the family – so if you or your spouse was a bedwetter as a kid, your child is more likely to be one, too) or a tendency to sleep so deeply that the urge to pee fails to wake you. And stress can make bedwetting worse by depriving a child of sleep, which then may make him sleep that much more deeply, upping the risk that he’ll fail to wake when he has to pee and will wet the bed.
Misconception No. 4: Drinking too much before bedtime causes bedwetting.
The facts: Drinking too much liquid before bed is not the root cause of bedwetting, though it can exacerbate the issue. Don’t deprive your child of beverage in the evening altogether, but it’s not a bad idea to limit liquids within two hours of bedtime.
Misconception No. 5: There’s usually an underlying medical problem for bedwetting.
The facts: Up to age 6 or 7, bedwetting is usually considered perfectly normal and not a cause for concern. But if your child has been dry for six months or longer and suddenly starts wetting the bed again, you might want to talk to your child’s pediatrician to rule out the possibility of a urinary tract infection, an abnormality in the bladder or other medical issues.
Misconception No. 6: The way to get a child to stop wetting the bed is to punish him for accidents.
The facts: Your child isn’t wetting the bed because he’s disobeying you. He’s wetting the bed because he doesn’t yet have control over his bodily functions. (It’s like getting mad at him for having the hiccups!) Punishing him won’t make the bedwetting go away; it will only make him feel bad and do a number on his self-esteem. Experts recommend positive reinforcements for dry nights, but advise parents never to punish children for nighttime accidents. (You can enlist your child’s help with cleanup, though as a way of giving him a sense of self-esteem-boosting control and helpfulness, not as a punishment.)
Misconception No. 7: Bedwetters are almost always boys, not girls.
The facts: While studies show that boys do tend to wet the bed in greater number than girls, in part because they often toilet-train later, lots of girls also struggle to gain nighttime bladder control.
Misconception No. 8: The best cure for bedwetting is a prescription drug.
The facts: While medication can help some children with specific problems, experts recommend that it is generally used only when other, less-dramatic methods of curtailing bedwetting have not worked. The best Rx for bedwetting? Patience. Unless you think your child has an underlying medical issue that is causing him to wet the bed – and if you’re concerned, you should definitely speak to his doctor – you can probably just wait for your child to grow out of it.
Misconception No. 9: If your child wets the bed, it’s because you messed up his potty training.
The facts: Bedwetting is actually a natural stage of the potty-training process, not a reflection of its success. It is nobody’s fault – not yours, not your child’s – and is in neither your nor your child’s control. Your child will likely grow out of it without any drastic measures on your part.
Misconception No. 10: Bedwetting is never anything to worry about.
The facts: While that’s generally true for young children, sometimes there is a medical issue at play. If your child has been dry overnight for several weeks in a row and suddenly starts consistently wetting the bed, talk to your pediatrician to find out if something else – such as a urinary tract infection – might be going on.