Stop Bedwetting

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What is bedwetting?

Bedwetting is defined as intermittent incontinence while sleeping.

Bedwetting is the most common chronic ailment in children besides allergic disorders. It is a widespread and distressing condition that can have a significant impact on a young person’s behaviour and on their emotional and social wellbeing.

It is also very stressful for the parents or carers. However, successful treatment improves the mental health of the child and brings practical relief to the family.

In the UK 500,000 children aged between 5 and 16 regularly wet the bed.

What causes bedwetting?

Many children who wet the bed feel embarrassed and alone. Bedwetting is a common problem and is not the fault of your child. Bedwetting happens when there is no conscious awareness during sleep that they might need the toilet.

It could be down to one of the following reasons:

  • Lack of a
    hormone called

    This regulates the amount of urine produced by the body during the night. If there is not enough the kidneys continue to produce large amounts of urine which the bladder can’t hold.

  • Small
    bladder size

    A small sized bladder will not have the capacity to store urine for the 10-12 hours the child is asleep.

  • Constipation

    If the bowel is full it can press against the bladder, reducing its capacity and affecting its ability to store urine overnight.

  • Urinary tract
    infection (UTI)

    This can give a feeling of always needing the toilet and can cause or exacerbate any problem.

  • Inability to wake
    from sleep

    Inability to wake from sleep at the signal of a need to empty the bladder

  • An overactive

    Children may experience the need to go to the toilet urgently and frequently. This happens when the muscles in the bladder contract before it is full and this can happen during the night, often giving the child little or no warning.

  • Inherited tendency
    to wet at night

    We know for example that if one parent had a problem with bedwetting then there is approximately a 40% risk of any children also having a problem and that risk may increase if both parents had a bedwetting problem.

  • Anxiety, stress or
    changes in routine

    Events like starting school, the birth of a new sibling, exams and or bullying can delay a child becoming dry at night or can cause bedwetting in a child who had previously been dry.


Good news

The good news is that for most children something can be done to help identify, manage and resolve these possible causes.

A visit to your GP or school nurse is always recommended where treatment options can be discussed.


Remember, it's very important that it isn't the child's fault and that blaming them or being cross about the bedwetting may make them feel anxious or ashamed.

There are also a number of options that can help support your child with bedwetting.


Patient and parent videos

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Useful links

Here you can find more information and support
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Did you know?

Boys are
more likely to wet
the bed than girls up
to their teenage years,
when the likelihood
becomes more

Read more

If you have specific concerns or questions after reading the information above, we recommend that you visit your GP, school nurse or pharmacist to discuss them.