My 7 Year Old Son Can't Control His Bladder at Night

Updated on January 14, 2011
M.H. asks from Flower Mound, TX
16 answers

Hi Mamas,

My son just turned 7 last week, and he is still in pull-ups at night. He wakes up in the morning completely soaked - his pull-up, his sheets, and his body. Recently, it becamet much worse. Last week, I smelled a horrible odor coming from him. I sniffed his stomach and about died. He wreaked of urine! I have him pee twice before bed (once before I start getting him ready for bed) and once right before bed), and he still wakes up soaked. He is a very heavy sleeper, so he is not going to wake up in the middle of the night to pee. But I would think that peeing twice before bed should keep him dry throughout the night. It's not like he is drinking a huge amount of liquids in the evening. He drinks a cup of milk at dinner, and a small amount of water after he brushes his teeth. I have been giving him baths every morning b/c he stinks so badly. Has this ever happened to any of your children? Also, could this be a medical condition? Thank you!

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answers from Anchorage on

My cousin was like this, until about 12. He will outgrow it, and until than layer the bed with a water proof mattress cover, sheets, than another cover and sheets, ect... to make change overs easier when his pull up leaks. Also, do talk to his doctor. They have medication that can help some kids.

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answers from Wichita on

I had a problem with wetting the bed until college, and it was all because I was/am a heavy sleeper. My grandfather had to have surgery when he was 18 due to bedwetting, but as it's kind of a taboo subject, none of us know much about it and are unwilling to ask him. I would bring it up with his pediatrician.

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answers from Memphis on

Definitely discuss it with your pediatrician but it's not that uncommon and isn't really a sign of a problem. My brother wet the bed until he was in his mid-teens. My father did too, as well as a cousin on my father's side. For all of them, it was just something they had to outgrow.

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answers from Boise on

hypercalcemia can cause bed wetting. Also milk alkali syndrome.

In both cases, cut down on his milk.Absolutely NO milk in the evenings. Also, give him some magnesium to counter the calcium imbalance.

In some cases, it can be an early issue with later diabetes or blood sugar control. This is typically because of adrenal (cortisol) imbalances. Cortisol attached to calcium. If there is low cortisol in the body, the serum calcium will be higher.These hormone imbalances have direct affects on the bladder (and many other organs).

I would start with reducing dairy and taking magnesium. If he can't take magnesium malate pills, there is a product called kid calm, that is magnesium citrate. Larger doses can cause the runs, start slow and work your way up.

Watch for illness signs, especially chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, that "hit" at puberty, a sure sign of adrenal hormone dysregulation. Early childhood adrenal homrone imbalance signs can be very slight and mistaken for other issues but these are the signs:

Bladder issues (some kids, not all)

Knee pain (could come and go)
Hip pain (come and go or side to side )
Low Back pain (come and go). as the child grows, pain in these spots is more pronounced after excercise, and front thighs. Ankles can get pain at times also.

pain in ears with no infection present. black wax. ear ringing. or hearing loss.(ear issues are low adrenal aldosterone)

recurrent urinary tract infections

Croup or asthma (some kids, not all)

A tendency to sit and "zone out", quietly stare into space or out a window fro 5 or 10 minutes- these could be the child having low blood sugar seizures.

more blood sugar issues: the child could get mania laughing periods, (where it seems they cant control thier laughter) usually a period after eating.

Sensitivity to light, smells, starting to get food intolerances

stomach aches, nausea (on and off)


Later stages:
Trouble staying alseep or getting to sleep- inability to wake up in morning.
Dizzy after standing from sitting position (some kids, not all)
Evenually blacking out at times, dizzy when standing. worse under florescent lights. (some kids) watch for issues occuring when blood sugar drops (like every 3-5 hrs after eating) Shakey, anxiety, fear, feelings of doom, easily angered, easily upset, combative, cant handle stress-even minor stress, lashing out, wanting to hurt others, - can be misdiagnosed as bipolar/aspergers.

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answers from Raleigh on

My niece had this problem and it turned out to be caused by allergies. They put her on a medication and it resolved her bed-wetting problem.

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answers from Kansas City on

I wet the bed until I was 10 or 11, he will grow out of it. I have always been told/heard that kids dont have the true physical ability to stay dry at night until age 7. If you are really worried about it go ahead and talk to his doctor to be sure there isnt a medical reason why, but I think I would just give him some more time he is still young.

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answers from Greensboro on

My husband and I were both bed wetters until about age 9. Two of our three children were bed wetters until about age 9. Our doctor told us that some kids are just bed wetters and they grow out of it. We did what many of the responders suggested: we limited liquids at night, had kids use the bathroom right before going to bed, used plastic mattress covers, Pull-ups, etc.

Our doctor did tell us that until our kids did "grow out of it", there was some kind of nasal spray that could be prescribed & used that prevents nighttime accidents. He said it is not intended for every day use, but for special occasions like sleepovers, overnight camp, etc.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

My only concerns with advice is that sometimes we can go overboard. I had a daughter who wet the bed every night. I was young and would get totally upset with her. I did not have the mattress pad covers to keep the mattress dry or anything else.

I have 2 of my grandkids living with me and they both wear pullups at night. The 7 year old girl sleeps very heavy. The 4 year old boy does stay dry usually. Since it has gotten colder at night he is having more accidents.

Limiting fluids doesn't really make any difference. When they go to sleep the muscles just loosen and they pee. If there is any fluids in there they come out. It doesn't matter if they don't drink anything all day long. they will pee if the muscles and brain are not telling them to wake up and go or to hold it while they sleep.

I imagine in your area that you are having cooler weather so dehydration isn't as big of a deal as it is in Summer so limiting his fluid intake may not effect him negatively.

If he is still wetting through his pull up then you need to add some extra padding to it or try and get a bigger size. Adult diapers are for people who have accidents but are changed frequently not for laying and sleeping all night. Adults wake up and go change if they have an accident. Children have no idea they have wet so they wet over and over in it and it floods. We have had very good luck with the Huggies Overnights that have Buzz Lightyear on them. But they are for smaller children.

You can add sanitary napkins to the front, Poise pads, all kids of extras that would help absorb the extra urine.

If you peed on yourself you would obviously bathe. He should bathe every morning too.

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answers from Columbus on

My boys were both about 8 when they finally were dry at night. My daughter will be 9 in February and has NEVER been dry through the night. WIth my oldest son, I was worried, so the pediatrician told me to have him checked out, which I did by a pediatric urologist. I had some bladder issues when I was about 7, so I wanted to make sure he was ok, physically. He was fine. The urologist told me to try the wetness detector "beeper". It attaches to the underwear and will sound an alarm when it detects wet cloth. We did that, and eventually he grew out of it. I can't say for sure it was the alarm or not. My second son just eventually started to be dry occasionally, which turned into dry all the time. My daughter tried the alarm and really didn't like it. I don't know why, but would cry when I suggested trying it again. Now, when I do the alarms, I have to have a monitor in order to hear it, myself. My kids will sleep through fire alarms and the house alarm, so there's no way they will wake to the "wetness" alarm. My kids are also EXTREMELY heavy sleepers, which is why they just never get the "you gotta go" signal from their brains.

I also, recently, learned some information about nighttime wetness being linked to "gifted" children. Some of the noticable traits of gifted kids is nighttime wetness. They are so intense (their brains going a mile a minute all day) that they sleep super hard at night. This tidbit was just one of several different characteristics mentioned, but I thought it was interesting.

Anyway, I wouldn't hesitate to take him to get checked out, to be sure. It does sound like a lot of wetness. However, if that checks out, I would either wait it out a little longer, or try the alarm. If you google nighttime wetness alarm, I'm sure you'll find one. You can also find them cheaper (and still NEW) on ebay.

Just wanted to mention, that we also tried limiting fluids in the evening and even tried the medication to help lower the urine output - only for use on occasion, like for overnights. None of this worked. We would put the kids in underwear, thinking it would help their brains remember that they need to get up to pee. Nope. They just sleep too darn hard. They can't help it. They don't want to be 7 or 8 and still be in pull-ups anymore than we do. It may just take time. If we didn't use the pull-ups, I would be changing sheets each and every day. Not gonna happen. I've heard of parents having their kids clean up after themselves, by changing their sheets or helping to wash them. I guess I can understand if it is very clear the kid is just doing it as some sort of power struggle or admits to just not wanting to get up to pee or something like that. But, for the kids who can't help it,making them clean up, like its shameful, can be detrimental. Just my opinion, though. But, this is coming from someone who's been through it,personally.
Good luck!

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answers from Louisville on

deff a medical condition do not get angry with him over this and get him to the dr asap

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answers from Redding on

I had a friend, a girl, who was incontinent. She had to have surgery to correct the problem.
Take your son to see a pediatric urologist to rule out anything medical.
My son had a friend who was still in pull ups at 9. His mother was convinced that he needed them. She finally broke down and let him come to our house to spend the night but sent pull-ups and made me promise to be discreet. Which I was.
The boy didn't want to use a pull up and didn't pee in the night either.
He was at our house just about every other weekend and she still sent pull ups, but they stayed hidden and he never used one. She quit making him wear one at home.
In that instance, he obviously was able to have control over his bladder. Maybe because it was at someone else's house, maybe because there were other kids, maybe because he didn't sleep as deeply.
Children with true incontinence can't control their bladders during waking hours either.
Just keep trying to get him to know when he's starting to pee. It can take a while for some kids to master it. But, it's just my personal opinion that kids can also know, subconsciously, that if they have a pull up on they can just pee and it's okay. Nobody likes to get up out of a warm bed to go to the toilet, but eventually, if there is no medical reason, it's something a person has to get in the habit of doing.
You won't know if it's medical without getting him checked.

Best wishes.

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answers from Fayetteville on

It never hurts to have him checked out medically, if nothing else than to simply rule out some possible medical causes, which otherwise you would like to be aware of anyway, so any medical conditions can be treated, and treated earlier rather than later.

One of my kids wet his bed well into elementary school age.
He was helped by chiropractic adjustments. We did the going to the bathroom right before bed, and limiting liquids in the evening routine, but since he had swim practice workouts in the evenings, I was also worried about him becoming dehydrated... and I did not like the idea of beepers (which don't prevent anything anyway, just wake him up after he's wet) or even medication. I figured those options are much more invasive than a few adjustments. I was not too hopeful, but it was non-invasive and not traumatic, so I though why not give it a shot.
And in his case, it improved very rapidly, I think within a week or so he was consistently dry through the night, that was after probably three treatments. We continued for a while longer, and then spaced them further apart, maybe for a total of 4-6 weeks, don't remember exactly.
While this is of course anecdotal, it is a story where it helped and very quickly and dramatically.

I understand that many kids outgrow as they get older, but I totally understand that you and him want to have that happen sooner rather than later!

Good luck!

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answers from Raleigh on

I would have him checked out- take him to a pediatric urologist if you can. I think, he is a very heavy sleeper. He will outgrow this. My 40 yr old brother did the same till he was 12, I well remember my mother getting him up and walking him to the bathroom. She quietly stripped the bed every morning. Get plastic covers for the entire bed and pillow, and several extra sets of bedding. The other thought is that depends may have a line of more absorbent pants. Try googling this. Good luck. Please don't mention this to your son, believe me, he feels terrible enough as it is.

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answers from Lexington on

I have six kids and the only two who wet the bed when they were school age were the two youngest. They were also the only two I put in pull-ups. I would never use those again. I think it's harder for kids to learn self-control when they have that easy back-up. I did also wet the bed when I was young, long before pull-ups had been invented, but only rarely after age 5. The way I taught myself to get out of bed wetting, and a method I taught my boys, is to think about when I was peeing. Sometimes I would dream that I was in the bathroom and go ahead, only to learn in the morning that I was still in bed. So I got in the habit of feeling around me when I felt that urge. It takes time and practice, but your son may do better if you remove the crutch that pull-ups become.



answers from Nashville on

have you talked to his doc? couldn't hurt. do the night pants thing. R.



answers from Nashville on

It could be a medical condition but it also is common in some children. I have heard that it can go up until age 13. Our son is 7 1/2 and has an accident once or twice every 6 months or so but he used to have them more often. I think you are doing the right thing but talking to his doctor might help and then other than that you might consider waking him up right before you go to bed at night or set your alarm for midnight. You can even try setting an alarm in his room but counting on him to wake himself up might be hard. You need to make him go to the bathroom in the middle of the night for a week and maybe he will then make it a habit and do it himself in the future. Good luck

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