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What causes bedwetting?

There are three main reasons why children wet the bed:

  1. Their bladders don’t stretch enough to hold all the wee they make at night.
  2. They produce too much wee at night.
  3. They don’t wake up when their bladder sends a signal that it’s full.

Bedwetting can be caused by one or more of these reasons. The good news is, all are treatable. 

Get more information about the causes of bedwetting and how it can be treated in our resource:  

Advice for Children with Night Time Wetting

No need to 'watch and wait'! 

For many years, bedwetting was seen as a simple problem which children would grow out of without needing treatment. It is now recognised as being a complex disorder involving several factors such as 'bladder dysfunction' and the over-production of urine at night (children making more wee as they sleep than their bladder can hold.)  

Underlying causes of bedwetting

Bedwetting can also be caused by an underlying health condition, such as:

  • Constipation – if a child's bowels become blocked with hard poo, it can put pressure on the bladder and lead to bedwetting. Take a look at our Advice for Children with Constipation to get help recognising the signs of constipation.  

  • A urinary tract infection (UTI) – children may also have other symptoms, such as a fever and pain when they wee. If children have daytime bladder problems, this needs to be investigated by a health care professional first. See our Advice for Children with Daytime Bladder Problems to find out more about causes and treatment. 

  • Type 1 diabetes – other symptoms of this include tiredness, weight loss, needing the toilet more than usual and feeling thirsty. Take your child to the doctor if you they have they have these symptoms so urine and blood tests can be done. 

Did you know?

Bedwetting runs in families. If one parent wet the bed, their child has a 40% chance of doing the same; if both parents wet the bed, there’s a 70% chance.

Bedwetting isn't anybody's fault - it doesn't happen because children are lazy or being naughty. Children shouldn't be punished for having an accident. 

Bedwetting is a medical condition and doesn't have a psychological cause. However, it can have a huge impact on children's self-esteem and emotional well-being. Sadly the impact on the child and their family is often underestimated and trivialised.

Read our blog about other common bedwetting myths.

Get help treating bedwetting