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Bedwetting

Bedwetting can be worrying and frustrating, but it's common for children to accidentally wet the bed during the night. The problem usually resolves in time.

Bedwetting is common in young children, but gets less common as children get older.

Most children respond well to treatment, although they may still wet the bed from time to time.

This page covers:

Treatments you can try at home

When to see your GP

Bedwetting treatments from your GP

Causes of bedwetting

More information

Bedwetting treatments you can try at home

It's best to try a few measures yourself first, such as:

  • not giving your child anything to drink in the hour before bedtime
  • making sure they have a wee before going to sleep

See some more self-help tips for bedwetting.

You could also consider buying a bedwetting alarm.

Reassure your child. It's important for them to know they haven't done anything wrong, and it will get better.

Don't tell them off or punish them for wetting the bed as this won't help and could make the problem worse.

When to see your GP

Bedwetting is only really a problem if it begins to bother you or your child. It's not usually considered a problem in children under five.

It's a good idea to speak to your GP if:

  • your child has any other symptoms along with bedwetting, such as pain when weeing, fever or constipation
  • your child has suddenly started wetting the bed after they've been dry at night for a while 

Lots of families first get medical help when the bedwetting affects a child's social life – for example, if they don't want to do sleepovers in case they wet the bed.

Bedwetting treatments from your GP

Your doctor may recommend a bedwetting alarm. These are moisture-sensitive pads your child wears on their night clothes. An alarm sounds if they start to wee.

You may be able to borrow an alarm from your local incontinence or enuresis clinic.

If an alarm doesn't work or isn't suitable, medicines for bedwetting may help. Medical treatments aren't usually recommended for children under five. 

Read more about treating bedwetting.

Causes of bedwetting

There's usually no obvious reason why children wet the bed, but it could be because your child:

  • produces more wee than their bladder can cope with
  • has an overactive bladder, meaning it can only hold a small amount of wee
  • is a very deep sleeper, so they don't react to the signals telling their brain their bladder is full

Bedwetting often runs in families.

Constipation is often linked with bedwetting. Sometimes treating constipation is all that's needed to treat bedwetting.

Occasionally, bedwetting is triggered by emotional distress, such as being bullied or moving to a new school.

In rare cases, bedwetting may be a symptom of an underlying health condition, such as type 1 diabetes.

Read more about the causes of bedwetting.

More information

ERIC, The Children's Bowel and Bladder Charity, is a UK-based charity for people affected by bedwetting. Their website has useful advice for both children and parents.

ERIC has a helpline on 0845 370 8008 (Monday to Thursday, 10am to 2pm) or you can email helpline@eric.org.uk.

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