Bedwetting At Night in Children 101

Bed-wetting in children is quite common issues among all the families nowadays. Reports show that approximately five to seven million children wet their beds in the United States. It is very normal for children under the age of 5 to have a bed-wetting problem. However, if your baby continues to wet their bet after the age of 5, they may have some health issues. Bedwetting can be frustrated for both you and your baby. So how to deal with children’s Bedwetting? Let us guide you to understand the definition, causes, complications, and treatments of bedwetting at night in children.

What is Bedwetting At night?

Bedwetting at night is also known as nocturnal enuresis. This is a disease that only counted in children over 5 years olds including even teenagers. Although it is not directly affecting your baby’s health, it can affect your child’s sleep. The frequent waking in the middle of the night can make your baby tired and stressed, thereby reducing their ability to learn and play. On top of that, this disease can also disrupt the parent’s sleep if it continues to last.

Reports show that bedwetting occurs in 20% of children at the age of 5 and 10% of children at the age of 7.  The rate of bedwetting in adolescents is very small, only about 1% – 3%. In addition, nocturnal enuresis in boys is 2-3 times more common than in girls.

Type of Bedwetting At Night

There are 2 types of bedwetting at night: primary and secondary. Primary enuresis is a condition that your baby has experienced bedwetting since their early childhood without a break. A child with primary bedwetting has never been dry at night for any significant length of time. Secondary bedwetting is the condition that a child can control their bladder and stay dry at night at first. However, bedwetting starts up after the child has been dry at night for a significant period of time, at least 6 months.

The Causes Of Bed-wetting

The cause of primary bedwetting is likely due to one or several factors combination. These factor including your child cannot yet hold urine for the entire night, does not waken when their bladder is full or they produce a large amount of urine during the evening and night hours. In addition, poor daytime toilet habits can also lead to primary bedwetting. Many children have the habit of ignoring the urge to urinate and put off urinating as long as they possibly can. Parents usually are familiar with the leg crossing, face straining, squirming, squatting, and groin holding that children use to hold back urine.

Infants and toddlers are often bedwetting because the link between the brain and the bladder has not been fully formed. Therefore, urine will be released whenever the bladder feels full. In older children, the connections between the brain and the bladder have developed so they can control urination during the day. For urinating at night, your baby needs more time to control.

On the other hand, secondary bedwetting is can be caused by bladder irritations. Bladder irritation can cause pain or irritation with urination, a stronger urge to urinate, and frequent urination. Urinary tract infections in children may indicate another problem, such as an anatomical abnormality. Diabetes is also a possibility for secondary bedwetting. People with diabetes have a high level of sugar in their blood. Therefore, their body will have to increase the amount of urine output to get rid of the sugar. The body increases urine output to try to get rid of the sugar thereby making it easier 

Factors That Can Make Children More Likely to Get Bedwetting At Night

Genetic factors

If parents have a history of bedwetting in the night at the age of over 5, their children are also susceptible. The percentage of babies with bedwetting is 40% if one parent has a history of the disorder and 70% if both parents had it.

Stress, anxiety

This is one of the most common risk factors of secondary enuresis in children over 5 years old. When a child is stressed, the brain sends the wrong commands to the bladder, making it impossible to control night urination. Babies can be stressed when moving to a new place, parental issues, losing loved ones, or worried about studying.

Sleeping Disorders

Deep sleep, poor sleep, or little sleep is part of the natural development in adolescents. These sleeping disorders make it harder for your children to control their bladder thereby cause bedwetting. In addition, they can cause stress, anxiety, and exhaustion, which also lead to bedwetting. 

8 Best Solutions to Beat Bedwetting | Parents

Sleep apnea

In rare cases, bedwetting occurs due to sleep apnea and snoring. Children with this condition often have partially blocked airways and cause momentary apnea during sleep. This is the cause of the brain’s chemical imbalance, which can activate bedwetting.


The bladder and intestines have a close position in the abdominal cavity. Constipation caused by constipation will compress the bladder, make it harder to hold the urine, and causing the child to urinate out of control. In addition, diarrhea can also cause babies to have bedwetting at night.

Taking Medicine or Background Disease

Some studies show that children with attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have bedwetting, due to differences in brain chemistry. In addition, some medications can increase the risk of bedwetting in children.

How Does Bedwetting Affect Children’s Psychology and Their family’s activities?

Bedwetting adversely affects children’s emotions. Children who wet their beds have lower self-esteem, restrictions on social activities, and are at risk of getting teased or bullied by other children. 

Bedwetting may also cause inconvenience to the family due to the waking up at night and the smell. Bedwetting also creates an additional workload for parents in the form of washing and drying bed linen. This is associated with significant financial costs. One study estimated that the cost associated with washing and drying bed linen was $1,000 USD per year. In some circumstances, parents resort to punishment of the enuretic child, particularly in migrant populations. This has been shown to worsen self-esteem and exacerbate the bedwetting.

How to Deal With Bedwetting At Night In Children

Take Your Baby To A Pediatrician

Normally a child will eventually outgrow bedwetting as they grow up.  But if there any concerns about bedwetting, take your baby to a pediatrician for further advice.  If your child has been dry and then starts to wet the bed, tell your pediatrician right away. On top of that, inform your doctor immediately if your baby shows unusual symptoms such as burning while urinating or passing bloody urine.

Set Up a Bedwetting Alarm

This means setting up an enuresis alarm for your baby. It is a device that is activated by getting wet. Research shows that about half of children use the bedwetting alarm correctly, after a few weeks the condition of urination during sleep has decreased significantly. The alarm goes off when your baby’s underwear is wet to wake them up. Over time, their brains will form a reflex to associate with the urge to urinate. Therefore, it will help your children practice the habit of waking up and going to the toilet. Setting a baby’s biological clock is not easy. Therefore, your children will need your support to fully wake up and can go to the toilet on their own when the alarm goes off.

Avoid Stress

As mentioned, stress is also a risk factor for bedwetting, so try to help your baby relax if you find them look stressful. You can let them play outside, give them a massage, do something they love, or give them their favorite meals.

Do Not Let Your Child Drink A lot of Water Before Bedtime

Drinking too much water or eating liquid food before bedtime will cause the kidneys to excrete more urine. During deep sleep, your baby may not control urination. Therefore, you should not let children drink plenty of water in the evening right before going to bed.


There are two drugs that have been approved by the US Department of Health for bedwetting, namely imipramine, and desmopressin. These 2 medications that will force the body to make less urine at night. However, you should only consider this method if your child is at least 7 years of age and other methods have failed.

Other Tips

+ Limit eating food or drinks with caffeine. Also, avoid salty snacks and sugary drinks in the evening.
+ Encourage your child to go to the toilet regularly throughout the day (every 2-3 hours) and right before bed.
+ Wake your child only once in the night to urinate if necessary. If you wake up repeatedly, your child may have sleep disorders.

The Verdict

Bedwetting carries a significant burden for both the affected child and their family. Children who wet their beds have lower self-esteem, restrictions on social activities, and are at risk of physical and emotional abuse. In most cases, children will outgrow it eventually. However several treatment options are available including alarm therapy, desmopressin, and medical treatment to overcome this disorder. The most important thing to deal with bedwetting is your supports. So make sure you assure your child that it is nothing to be ashamed as well as protect them from getting teased. 

We hope that our article will provide you useful information. Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments!