When children urinate without control, it is called enuresis. This is also known as bedwetting. The medical term for when children cannot control their bladders while sleeping (bedwetting) is nocturnal enuresis.
Most children can control their bladder during the day and night by the age of 4. About 15 percent of children age 6 or 7 still can't stay dry while sleeping and they have nighttime "accidents." If a child has bladder control problems after the age of 7, it's worth reaching out to your health care provider to find out why.
Nocturnal enuresis (nighttime bedwetting) is common for more than 5 million children in the U.S. It is slightly more common in boys than girls. As children spend more nights away from home (at camps, sleepovers and field trips), it's important to look for solutions. With patience and tools for treatment, most children will stop bedwetting.
You and your health care provider will want to learn the cause of bedwetting. Try to keep track of your child's bathroom habits in a bladder diary. If your health care provider needs more information, your child may have a urinalysis, blood test, bladder scan or other tests.
Often, treatment starts with simple changes like reducing the amount of fluids your child drinks 1-2 hours before bed, creating a schedule for bathroom use (changing toilet habits) or prescription drugs. These treatments may be tried one at a time, or together.
T. Ernesto Figueroa, MD, is Division Chief of Pediatric Urology at the Nemours Children's Health System in the Philadelphia area.