The outlook can be dry – how to help your child with bedwetting

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Bedwetting is one of the UK’s best kept secrets, haunting up to half a million children and teenagers every night. Studies have shown that 1 in 6 five year olds, 1 in 7 seven year olds, 1 in 11 nine year olds and 1 in 50-100 teenagers are affected and the problem is more common in boys than girls, especially in the younger age groups.

Embarrassment and shame often mean the scale of the problem remains hidden and only one in three families come forward for support. The washing and the broken nights are bad enough. But the secrecy makes it worse for parents and young people alike. For many families, learning just how common bed wetting is can be a major relief and often it’s a first step towards talking more openly about it.

There are plenty of things dads can do to help their children manage or overcome the problem. ERIC has these top tips:

Try to stay patient and calm so that your child does not become anxious. A positive approach will help to reassure your child that they will succeed.

Make sure that your child drinks 6-8 water-based drinks throughout the whole day. Cutting back on drinks does not help.

Experiment to see if any drinks, such as flavoured drinks, increase the problem and avoid these.

Ensure your child does not put off going to the toilet in the day and encourage a visit to the toilet last thing before settling down to sleep.

Leave a soft light on to guide the way to the toilet at night and clear any obstacles from the route.

Use bedding protection such as bed mats and duvet protectors (available from ERIC). Absorbent pants are also useful for under-fives and for holidays, but these are best dispensed with once your child is ready to tackle the bedwetting.

Lifting at night does not help children to become dry. You may choose to do this occasionally, but ensure that you vary the time and try to ensure that your child is fully awake.

For more information, ideas or help contact ERIC. ERIC provides a free confidential Helpline service for parents and children open Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm 0845 370 8008 and an information text messaging service 447 624 811 636.

ERIC is a national children’s charity dedicated to supporting young people and their families with practical ideas, information and resources to help manage or overcome the difficulties associated with bedwetting. For more information visit

ERIC wants to help ensure the hundreds of thousands of UK families for whom bedwetting is an issue know exactly what support is easily available. The ‘Banish the Wee Horror’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the issue and encourage parents to contact the ERIC Helpline for support.