What is bedwetting? When is it a problem?

What is bedwetting?

Bedwetting is when a child doesn't wake from sleep when they need to pee. Doctors may use its medical name, nocturnal enuresis.

What does bedwetting in children mean?

If a child knows when to use the toilet during the day, but wets at night, it means their brain hasn't linked the need to pee with the need to wake up.

Bedwetting is uncommon in older children. More than half of children have learned to stay dry at night by age 3 years 6 months. If a child still wets the bed at age 5, they and their family may start having social problems and hurtful feelings.

Of 8-year-old children, only 1 in 20 are still bedwetting, and just 1 in 50 at 15 years old.

Infographic showing bedwetting prevalence in children at different ages
Bedwetting is uncommon at age 5 and rare
in older children and teens

Kids who wet the bed may need help to learn to wake when they need to pee.

When is bedwetting a problem?

Wetting the bed at age 5 or older can be a problem for a child and their family, partly because children the same age have usually stopped bedwetting.

It helps to start treatment with a bedwetting alarm by age 6 for girls and 7 for boys. Bedwetting gets harder to treat as children get older.

What happens when a child stops bedwetting?

Whether it's normal or abnormal at their age, to stop wetting the bed is a great achievement for a toddler, child or adolescent.

Parents notice and studies show children who stop wetting the bed:

How does stopping bedwetting improve family life?

Parents say that when a child stops bedwetting, family life improves too:

  • The child, their parents and siblings sleep better
  • The family saves money on diapers (nappies)
  • Parents feel less stress from guilt, embarrassment and child development worries.

What next?

Find out what causes bedwetting
and which bedwetting treatments work best

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