Bedwetting – The Quiet Struggle


My first baby potty trained in just a day.  She was just short of two years old, woke up one morning, and told us she was tired of wearing diapers and wasn’t going to do it anymore.  She had maybe two accidents over the next year, and that included during the night.

Now, I knew this wasn’t normal so when my son was three and still had no interest in being potty trained, I didn’t rush it.  We kept encouraging him and soon enough, he was potty trained and ready to go to preschool.  But nighttime was a different story.  He was still struggling at age five to stay dry at night.  Soon he was six and then seven and we were still dealing with the issue.  It soon became apparent that this was something that we couldn’t just ignore.

Nocturnal Enuresis

At age eight, we took him to the doctor.  After a full physical exam and urinalysis, he was diagnosed with nocturnal enuresis – nighttime bedwetting.

I learned a lot over the next few months.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology, bedwetting is more common than many parents realize.  15-20% of kids aged 5 struggle with bedwetting.  Even at age 12, 8% of boys still struggle with bedwetting.  Boys are 2 to 3 times more likely to be enuretic.  Doctors don’t have a firm cause.  They know it is often hereditary and can be related to other medical issues, but most often there is no real, known cause.  This is the case for my son.

All the Bedwetting Advice

Now, I can hear the “advice” coming already. You just need to use training pants – did that. DON’T use training pants – we did that too.  Stop liquids early in the evening and make sure he uses the restroom right before bed – we did that.  Try waking him up every few hours during the night to use the restroom – yep, the dark circles under my eyes prove we’ve done that.  Try a bed-wetting alarm – yep, done that, too.

See, the doctors didn’t have a solution to our problem, just a bunch of recommendations to try.  We’ve spent the last two years working our way through the list.  We’ve tried each method for three to four months at a time.  We even tried seeing a chiropractor twice a week for over four months to see if that might help the issue.  Currently, we are on month five of the bed-wetting alarm.  We have literally, tried it all!

My little guy is highly motivated to “fix his problem,” as he calls it.  He’s not being lazy and he’s not being stubborn.  He wants this to be done more than any of us.  He wants to wake up dry, to have sleepovers with friends and to not have to deal with this anymore.

Not Alone

There are medicines that could help.  We’ve discussed them thoroughly with his doctor.  These medicines help to lower the amount of urine produced during the night.  While initially these medicines show great results, the relapse rate ranges from 80-90%.  Most doctors we’ve seen have recommended to continue with the alarm and eventually he will grow out of it.

For now, we use a bed alarm to wake him when he is wet, he goes to the restroom, and we change his sheets.   We are focusing on celebrating the dry nights and not making a big deal when they don’t happen.   I’ve found that the more I talk about it with parents I know and meet, the more I hear of others going through the same struggle.  My son is not the only one.  I know eventually he will grow out of it, but it helps to know he’s not alone in this quiet struggle.


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