Feature Archive

Bed-Wetting Myths Debunked

What to do and not to do if your child wets the bed.

By Denise Mann
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

Mornings are a whole lot brighter at Terry Packer's (not his real name) Long Island home these days. Terry, now 16, hasn't wet the bed in a year.

But there was a time that his parents did not believe a morning would ever start without changing sopping wet sheets.

Terry and his family are not alone.

In the U.S., about 5 to 7 million children aged 6 years or older suffer from primary nocturnal enuresis also called nighttime bed-wetting or the involuntary loss of urine at night when they could reasonably be expected to stay dry. If a child wets the bed after age 5 or 6, there is an 85% chance he or she will still do it a year later, based on statistics from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).

Terry started wetting the bed age 4 and continued to do so until he turned 15. His family was at their wit's end and didn't know where to turn for help.

That's because myths abound when it comes to bed-wetting and they often prevent children from getting the proper help, says Alan Greene, MD, an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., and author of several books including the forthcoming From First Kicks to First Steps.