Bed Wetting


It is one of the most common of all childhood problems and affects around 19% of school aged children. To have a better idea, in a class of 30 children:

  • Aged 5 yrs – 5 wet the bed at least twice a week
  • Aged 7 yrs – 2 wet the bed at least twice a week
  • Aged 12 yrs – 1 wets the bed at least twice a week
  • Aged 15 yrs – 1 child in every two classes wets the bed at least twice a week


Bedwetting is caused by a mix of three things:

1. Difficulty to arouse from sleep
Some children sleep very deeply and find it hard to wake up when the bladder is full. The brain and the bladder don’t communicate properly, so when the child is asleep the brain doesn’t get the message that the full bladder needs to be emptied.

2. Overactive Bladder
If the bladder is overactive, the bladder muscle becomes twitchy and can only hold a small amount of urine. A twitchy bladder therefore, may spontaneously contract during sleep, which can result in wetting.

3. Polyuria in night
Children who wet the bed may have a low level of the naturally occurring substance called Vasopressin. The brain
normally produces Vasopressin during the night to reduce the amount of urine produced, and allows an uninterrupted nights sleep. If the child has low levels of Vasopressin at night, they may produce more urine than their bladder can hold and if they do not wake up, they wet the bed.


  • Constipation
  • ADHD
  • Sleeping problems, insomnia, sleep apnoea
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes insipidus or mellitus

Do you know bedwetting is not caused by:

  • Being young for their age
  • Laziness
  • Bad behaviour
  • Being naughty
  • Rebelliousness
  • Drinking after dinner

If not treated, what are the implications of persistent bedwetting?

  • Low self-esteem, feeling of inadequacy and self-consciousness
  • Strong feeling of shame , failure and guilt
  • Finding it hard to make friends
  • Underachievement at school
  • Behaviour changes, bad behaviour, depression
  • Negative impact on child’s emotional and social development
  • Child may miss out on the fun things like school camps and sleep overs

When should you seek Paediatric help?

  • Child is 6 years or older and still bedwetting
  • The child who has been dry for more than 6 months suddenly starts wetting at night ( at any age)
  • The bedwetting bothers the child or makes the child upset or angry
  • The child wants to become dry

What can parents do to help the child?

  • Talk to your child about what has caused the problem and how their body works
  • Ensure your child drinks 5-6 glasses of water daily
  • Try to cut back on fizzy drinks
  • Watch for constipation as this can make the bladder problem worse
  • Support your child in choosing to become dry and be positive about the treatments they are using
  • DO NOT punish for wet beds