Bedwetting is common in children, especially for those under six years old. It is when children who can control their bladder all day pee at night in their sleep. It is not a serious medical problem but can be challenging for children and parents.

Though most children are toilet trained between two and four years of age, some children may not be able to stay dry at night until they are older. Children develop at their own rate.

Why Does Bedwetting Happen?

It is not known for sure what causes bedwetting or why it stops. It is most common in young children but can last into the teen years. Bedwetting may occur because your child:

  • Is a deep sleeper and does not feel a full bladder.
  • Is constipated. Constipation can put pressure on the bladder and lead to problems with peeing.
  • Has a small bladder and cannot hold urine for an entire night.
  • Has bladder muscles which develop more slowly than usual.
  • Has a minor illness or is overly tired.
  • Is still developing the brain connections that send messages to the bladder.
  • Has a family history of bedwetting. Most children who wet the bed have at least one parent who had the same problem as a child.
  • Has a sleep disorder such as sleepwalking or sleep apnea.
  • Makes extra urine at night.
  • Has an underlying medical problem.
  • Feels stressed about something like:
    • A new baby in the family
    • Sleeping alone
    • Starting a new school
    • A family crisis
    • An accident or trauma

How to Cope With Bedwetting

Bedwetting is an issue that many families face every night. Children can feel embarrassed and guilty about wetting the bed and anxious about spending the night at a friend’s house or camp. Parents often feel helpless to stop it. Bedwetting usually stops on its own but may last for a while.

Be sensitive to your child’s feelings

  • Reassure your child that bedwetting is a normal part of growing up and will not last forever. Consider reading a story about bedwetting with your child.
  • It may comfort your child to hear about any other family members who had this when they were young.
  • If you do not make a big issue out of bedwetting, chances are your child will not either.

Protect the bed

  • A plastic cover under the sheets protects the mattress.
  • Be patient about changing the bed linens. Don’t act offended by the smell of urine.
  • Have your child help you change the sheets, but not as a punishment. It may help your child feel better knowing that they helped and are part of the solution to fix the wet bed.

Be aware of your child’s routines 

  • Most children wet their beds during toilet training. Even after staying dry at night for a few days or weeks, they may start wetting at night again.
  • Try to have your child drink more fluids during the daytime hours and less in the evening.
  • Avoid caffeine-containing drinks.
  • Set a regular bedtime routine, including going to the bathroom before bedtime.
  • Do not wake your child at different times during the night to go to the washroom unless it is part of a prescribed treatment.

Beware of “cures”

  • Many bedwetting products make false claims, are not studied for effectiveness, and are expensive. Your child’s doctor/nurse practitioner is the best source for treatment advice.

When should I be concerned?

Bedwetting that begins suddenly or happens with other symptoms can be a sign of another medical condition, so talk with your doctor if your child:

  • Suddenly wets the bed after being consistently dry for at least 6 months.
  • Complains of a burning sensation or pain when peeing.
  • Begins to wet their pants during the day.
  • Is drinking or eating much more than usual.
  • Is peeing more often than usual.
  • Has swelling of the feet or ankles.
  • Is concerned or upset by the bedwetting.
  • Is seven years of age or older and still wetting the bed.


Bedwetting is not your child’s fault; they have no control over this. If your child wets the bed, don’t blame yourself or the other parent. Don’t punish, blame, or embarrass your child. Give your child understanding, encouragement, love, and positive support.

Services related to this information:

Share This Page:
Last updated: 2019-07-23