Why Do Some Kids Wet the Bed?

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation


The reasons why nighttime accidents occur may surprise you!

If you’re the parent of a bedwetter, you’re likely all too familiar with orchestrating middle-of-the-night pajama changes and dragging heaping loads of soggy sheets to the laundry machine. You've also probably wondered more than once whether the nighttime accidents will ever end.

The good news: Odds are, they will! While15 percent of children wet the bed at age five, less than five percent will still be having accidents by ages eight to 11. (In rare cases, bedwetting can continue into the teen years and adulthood, and if it does, that's a signal to talk to a doctor, because it could by a symptom of an underlying medical condition.)

Twice as many boys wet the bed as girls, and bedwetting is more common among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), though researchers aren't sure why.

You can’t predict when your child will gain control of his bladder, but knowing why bedwetting (the medical term is enuresis) occurs can help you gain perspective on the issue.

Reason #1: You Used to Wet the Bed.

Strange but true: Nighttime accidents are hereditary. In fact, 75 percent of kids who wet the bed have a parent or another first-degree relative who did the same as a child. There’s no changing your child’s genes, so the best thing that you can do is calmly let your tot know that you also used to have accidents, and that it’s something that almost always goes away over time. This will help her understand that she is not to blame for the wet sheets.

Reason #2: Your Child Has a Small Bladder.

Simply put, your tot’s still-maturing bladder may not be able to contain the urine that is produced throughout the night. And if your child’s brain isn’t recognizing his bladder’s “I’m full” signal quite yet (this nerve connection can take some time to develop, too), it’s likely that an accident will occur.

Reason #3: Your Kid is Constipated.

Your child’s bowels—not bladder—may actually be to blame for bedwetting. That’s because stool can push against the bladder, reducing the amount of liquid it can hold. Even though your child is potty trained at this age, try to keep an eye on his bathroom habits. If you suspect that constipation might be an issue, talk to your kid's pediatrician.

Reason #4: Your Youngster Sleeps Deeply.

If your tot is sleeping soundly, she may not wake up when her bladder is full. To reduce accidents, have your little one cut back on fluids before bedtime and make sure that a trip to the potty is part of her nighttime routine.

Remember, your child isn’t wetting the bed on purpose or because he is too lazy to make it to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Being supportive, calm, and patient throughout the process while rewarding dry nights (with a sticker, for example) will help get you both through the bedwetting days.