We don’t consider bedwetting to be “abnormal” until about the age of 6 years. There are two key reasons why: First, before that age it is still very likely that a child will stop wetting the bed with no treatment. After age six, while kids do continue to “outgrow it”, the rate at which they do slows down — it is much less likely to happen “soon”. Second, all treatment approaches (both behavioral and medication) tend to work better over this age than they do in younger children.
For the parents of a child below 6 years, there are a few pieces of advice, things to do or avoid while waiting for him/her to get a bit older:
- DON’T try to awaken the child at night to take them to the toilet – this only works to prevent the wetting that night about half the time, and in the bigger picture it actually prolongs the bedwetting by not allowing the sleeping, subconscious brain the opportunity it needs to learn to hold urine in. This just postpones the day when the child finally outgrows it themselves.
- DON’T use pull-ups or diapers. This makes wetting “too easy” for child and sends the message that they are still “a baby” and that this is “OK”, removing any subconscious motivation to “grow up”.
- DON’T scold, get angry, or blame. (This isn’t in child’s conscious control).
- DO encourage child to take as much responsibility for practical aspects of cleanup as he is physically/cognitively able to do (changing his own clothes, bed sheets, putting dirty stuff in right place, etc.)
- DO restrict fluid intake in the 3-4h prior to bedtime, and be sure he/she urinates just before going to bed.