Why do children wet the bed?

Causes of bedwetting in school-age children

Most children have attained night-time bladder control before they go to school. But, if your child still wets the bed at least twice a week by the time they reach 5-years-old they probably suffer from enuresis (the medical term for bedwetting).


Genetic Link

It’s not their fault. In most cases there is a genetic link, and where there are no medical or physiological reasons, it can be treated.





Should I treat my child’s bedwetting?

Around 15% of bedwetters grow out of it each year. However, for those who don’t, or haven’t yet, it can be a very embarrassing and debilitating experience.

Bedwetting can lead to self-esteem issues, bullying and teasing by other kids, and social isolation, especially if school camps and sleepovers are opted out of.

Children rank bedwetting as the 3rd most stressful event after parental divorce and arguments! Percentage of children who are bedwetters

For these reasons treating bedwetting can have a very positive result on a child’s life.

How can I help my child?

Talk to your child about bedwetting and understand their worries and concerns. Let them know that it is not their fault and that they are not alone -lots of school-age kids still wet the bed. Reassure them that bedwetting can be treated and if they are ready to do this, you will support them.

Things to avoid

Try not to restrict your child’s drinking habits- bedwetters don’t wet the bed because they drink too much -they usually wet because their brain fails to recognise the signals of a full bladder during sleep and the bladder reflex automatically voids.

Sometimes, low levels of anti-diuretic hormone results in overproduction of urine by their kidneys during the night. Drinking good quantities of water can help stretch the bladder so it can hold more.

Taking a child to go to the toilet at set times during the night can be counterproductive, especially if the child’s bladder is not full. To be effective, night-time toilet training must develop the link between the messages a full bladder sends and the brain’s arousal mechanisms, during sleep. Waking a child when the bladder is not full does not do this.

Similarly, offering bribes or rewards for unrealistic goals such as dry nights will not work because the bedwetting is not under the child’s control.

Bedwetting alarms

Bedwetting alarms are recognised as having the highest success rate in treating bedwetting compared to other treatments, with long-term success rates range from 70-90%. The advantage of alarms is that they are cost effective, avoid the need for medication and have no side effects.

How an alarm works

Bedwetting alarms work by placing a sensor in the child’s underwear that triggers an alarm when a small amount of urine is released, waking the child up.

Over time, the child learns to associate the sensation of a full bladder with the need to wake up and eventually the bladder reflex will function correctly and the child can sleep through the night.

Coaching supporting and encouraging your child

Parents have a pivotal role in alarm treatment.

This includes coaching their child about what they need to do when the alarm triggers during the night and ensuring they respond to the alarm and go to the toilet. Preparing changes of bedding and nightwear in advance will assist with a quick return to bed.

Getting the whole family on board with the treatment programme and recognising all progress towards the goal of curing the bedwetting can provide a huge motivational boost for the affected child.

Once a child has achieved 14 consecutive dry nights with an alarm, their bedwetting is cured and they can stop using the alarm.


Choose a bedwetting alarm


Lydia and her girls

My daughter loves the alarm. She’s told me to ‘sell my pull-ups on eBay mommy’. She just loves that she doesn’t have to wear pull-ups…

- Lydia Du Buisson