Should you wake your child to pee at night?

Child woken up to pee at night

A popular technique used by parents to avoid their child wetting the bed is to wake up their child to go to the toilet at night (also known as ‘lifting’).  Some parents set timers throughout the night to wake up their child for multiple trips to the toilet.  The aim is to reduce wet beds and hopefully cure bedwetting.

Whilst this can be helpful for a few children when transitioning from nappies and it can help keep the bed dry, it’s generally not useful for chronic or older bedwetters.  It usually doesn’t help the child learn how to stay dry in the long term.

However, it may help some parents because their child is less likely to wee the bed that night.

Why waking your child to pee at night doesn't work

When your child gets used to being woken up to go to the toilet, they don’t develop the bladder-brain communication that’s needed for them stay dry every night.  You have effectively taken control of the bladder away from your child.

In addition, when you do this, the child’s bladder might not be full, so they don’t learn to recognise the feeling that the bladder needs emptying, and they need to get up to go.  

Many parents wake their children around the same time every night, just before the parent goes to bed.  This can set a pattern where the child learns to go at that time, whether they have a full bladder or not.  Eventually, when parents stop taking them to the toilet, they may continue to wet the bed at this time. 

A lot of children are still partially or fully asleep when lifted to go to the toilet, and often don’t remember being taken to the toilet.  So they aren’t learning how to wake themselves up to go, or, learning how to hold on.

The child’s brain and bladder have no reason to build communication if you are lifting your child, so it is possible that waking your child to pee could prolong the bed wetting, rather than solve the issue.  

Waking your child to go to the toilet can affect sleep

Having a good night’s sleep is essential for all children, however, for bedwetters, getting sufficient sleep is crucial.  If you wake your child to go to the toilet at night, you will significantly disrupt their natural sleep cycle.  As a result, your child will find it harder to wake up to any sensations of a full bladder.  Therefore, waking your child to pee may be counterproductive to becoming dry at night, and may additionally lead to a very tired and grumpy child, on top of all the stresses of bedwetting.

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What do I do instead of waking my child up to pee?

There are several practical steps you can take to minimise bedwetting:-

  • Get a medical check-up to rule out any underlying heath issues
  • Ask your child to go to the toilet at least twice before they go to bed
  • Additionally, make sure the child is well hydrated throughout the day but restrict fluid intake 1-2 hours before their bedtime
  • Ensure your child gets a regular amount of good quality sleep (including at weekends)
  • Learn what can contribute to, or cause, wet nights.  The more you understand the different aspects to bedwetting, the more you can help your child
  • Talk to your child about how the brain and bladder work, and especially how they need to communicate
  • Another key point is to make sure they aren’t suffering from constipation
  • And finally, find a bedwetting solution that is right for you and your child


While it is understandable that some parents choose to wake their child up to wee, and it does work for some families, it is particularly important to consider that in the long term, it doesn’t usually train the child to stay dry and it might prolong bedwetting.  It doesn’t allow the child to build the essential communication between the brain and bladder needed for dry nights.

If your child is aged five or over and wetting the bed most nights, it is time to find an alternate solution that suits your family and produces lasting results.

As bedwetting is such a hidden issue, it would be helpful to other parents if you could share your stories.  Leave a comment below about your experiences and if this article helped you.  Have you lifted your child to take them to the toilet at night?  Did it help?

6 thoughts on “Should You Wake Your Child To Pee At Night?”

  1. I have been trying the lifting method for 3 years with my 9 year old boy. I’m wondering now if it has in fact prolonged the bed wetting based on this article. It was recommended by his pediatrician. I’m going to try not lifting him to take him to the bathroom and see how that goes.

    1. Thank you for your comment. For some parents, lifting works. They may notice their child becoming dry after a few weeks, or they continue lifting for years, successfully preventing bedwetting. However, if there’s no improvement within a few weeks, it probably won’t help the child learn how to become dry through the night. It can be quite a leap to stop lifting and let him wet the bed; however, it is worth taking. The program not only aims to improve brain-bladder communication but also focuses on setting your child up for success by identifying factors that may contribute to or cause bedwetting. Ultimately, the goal is for him to have dry nights and sleep through without any issues.

  2. I have lifted my child at the same time every night for years ( set alarm for 1pm) however 3 times this week I didn’t lift him
    And he has wet the bed on every occasion at the alarm time !! I just don’t know what to do ?

    1. Thank you for sharing your situation. It’s wise to look into potential underlying factors. Bedwetting can be caused by various factors such as poor or inconsistent communication between the brain and bladder, or even physical factors like constipation (though the constipation may not be obvious). It’s also a good idea to consider the impact of foods, drinks, and sleep.

      If you’re seeking more guidance and a comprehensive approach to managing bedwetting, you might find “Stay Dry at Night” helpful. This approach takes into account both the physiological and lifestyle factors contributing to bedwetting. The member’s toolkit offers a week-by-week guide filled with valuable information and techniques. Personalized recordings are created for your child to help strengthen the communication between the brain and bladder.

      Remember, every child is unique, so finding the right approach might involve a bit of trial and error. Keep up the good work, and with patience and the right strategies, you can work towards fewer wet nights.

  3. I have a 5 year old daughter I have always lifted her to the toilet every night at a certain, to a point if I miss the alarm and I wake up to lift her I find that she has already wet the bed. And now it’s frequent, does it mean i have made things worse?? What can I do now. Because she wets the bed everyday now. Even through she pees before bedtime. What can I do??

    1. Hang in there, it can be frustrating and exhausting dealing with wet nights, but there are lots of ways to help reduce the wet nights. For some children, it is simply that the brain and bladder aren’t talking to each other through the night, and one way to help this is to explain to her how the brain and bladder work and how they need to message each other. Since she is only five, I would start with that and see how you go. In the meantime, I wouldn’t wake her up in the middle of the night to pee. It might help to purchase a Bedmate available through ‘The Midnight Gang’ (found at These easy to use sheet protectors are placed on top of the bottom sheet, and help contain any accidents, reducing the amount of washing until she is dry.

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Stay Dry at Night is a breakthrough bedwetting program that aims to build communication between the brain and bladder so that your child wakes up to go to the toilet or stays dry all night.

 The program provides essential bedwetting information, cognitive techniques and recordings for your child to listen to at night, and ongoing help and support.  

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Stay Dry at Night is a comprehensive bedwetting solution that helps your child learn how to be in control of their brain and bladder. For more information on how to stop bedwetting go to Stay Dry at Night.