Bed-wetting treatments

Bed-wetting treatments

There are a range of treatments you can try:

  • Pad and bell alarms

    This is the classic bed-wetting alarm, and is considered by those in the know, as the most straightforward and effective way to help your child get dry, and to keep him dry. The rubber pad, which slides in between the mattress and bottom sheet, and bell works by going off – very, very loudly – when urine hits the pad. This will (hopefully!) wake your child and, over time, teach him to wake when his bladder is full. While extremely successful for many children, this treatment can take many weeks to work, (on average children need to use the alarm for at least 10 weeks, and many need it for several more months) so only start this treatment when you’re ready to put in the hard yards.


If your child is a deep sleeper, you may have to wake him up when the bell rings for the first few nights. Most deep sleepers then get used to responding to the sound of the bell.

  • Body sensor alarms

    These alarms aren’t as loud the pad and bell alarms and so are a little kinder to the family. Body sensor alarms work by securing a sensor between two pairs of underpants (that your child is wearing) and then threading the attached cord up through his pyjamas and fixing the bell either to his pyjamas top or on his pillow. Bell will be triggered – which, again, will wake your child - when the sensor picks up moisture in the underpants.
  • Bladder training

    This is a treatment plan that should involve a health professional. Some children don’t drink enough during the day (and may actually restrict how much they drink to try to avoid wetting the bed at night) and this can cause the bladder to shrink and subsequently send signals to the brain that it needs to empty long before it is at capacity. With bladder training, your child learns to drink and hold a much larger volume of fluid. This usually results in the bladder holding enough fluid overnight.
  • Mattress protection

    Many parents also find a bed liner useful: a soft waterproof-backed fabric pad that sits on top of the bottom sheet. Some, like the ones from DryLife, are absorbent enough to soak up even multiple accidents, and draw in and trap moisture so your child is less likely to wake wet and cold. If they’re wetting regularly, try putting them to bed wearing undies only from the waist down so they won’t be woken by wet pyjamas. The best thing about a bed liner is that in the morning you just can whip it off the bed for washing without having to strip the underlayers.
  • Protective underwear

    These are a great solution for sleepovers and school camps – anything that is temporary and that will not cause embarrassment if the bed is wet. It’s unlikely that using these as a permanent way of getting around bed-wetting problems will ever actually solve the problem, but it will allow you the time to do so in a less stressful environment. 
  • Medications

    Most children who wet the bed don’t need any drug treatment, but there are some occasions when it can be useful. The most well-known drug is Minirin (DDAVP). This is a man-made form of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) that works by substituting for the natural hormone. It will help your child's body make less urine at night, and so reduce the risk of his bladder overfilling during sleep. DDAVP is usually reserved for children who have failed previous treatment with a bed-wetting alarm, and sometimes the two treatments are then given together. Some children only use the medication for sleepovers or school camp.
  • Toileting at ten o’clock

    Some children respond well to being taken to the toilet several hours after they’ve gone to bed. Over time, they will learn to do a wee on command (and perhaps not even remember it in the morning). While this will help with the immediate problem of keeping your child dry overnight, it doesn’t actually teach your child to respond to his brain’s signals when he’s asleep. Instead he’s relying on you to do it for him.

Common Sense Advice. Share your experiences, tips and advice on the Kidspot Forum.

This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot. Sources include S.A. Govt’s Parenting and Child Health and Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne

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