Bed wetting in children

Last updated:

Reviewed by:

Dr Rhianna McClymont

, Lead GP at Livi

Medically reviewed

Bed wetting is common in children under the age of five. Some older children wet the bed too, and it can make them feel very embarrassed and upset. Bed wetting often runs in families, so if you or your partner went through a phase of bed wetting as children, your child is more likely to.

For some children, bed wetting is a sign of bladder dysfunction, which is a medical condition, and there are treatments available to help. If your child is older than five and is wetting the bed, talk to a GP.

Why do children wet the bed?

H2: Why do children wet the bed?
There are several reasons why children wet the bed at night:

  • They’ve drunk too much before bedtime and haven’t been to the toilet

  • Their bladder isn’t big enough to hold all the pee they make while they’re asleep

  • Their body is making too much wee during the night

  • They don’t feel that their bladder is full while they’re asleep

  • They are feeling stressed about something at home or school

Bed wetting could also be a sign of an illness or other condition, like constipation, a urinary tract infection (UTI) or diabetes.

How to stop bed wetting

If your child is wetting the bed, there are lots of ways you can help:

  • Make sure they drink enough during the day, so their bladder gets used to filling and emptying properly

  • Encourage them to go to the toilet regularly during the day. Four to seven times is normal

  • Check they’ve had a pee before bedtime. You could use a sticker chart to reward them

  • Use a waterproof mattress cover, duvet cover and pillow cover on their bed and have spares ready for easier changes

  • Make sure they can get to the toilet quickly at night

  • Avoid telling them off. Bed wetting is a medical condition, and if they feel stressed about it, it could make it worse

  • Don’t let them have drinks with caffeine in them, like tea, coffee and cola. These are known as diuretics, and they can make people pee more

  • Resist waking them up in the night just in case they need the toilet as this could make the problem go on for longer.

Bed wetting alarms

Bed wetting alarms work by detecting pee through a sensor, either in a pad that you place on the mattress or a smaller one in your child’s underwear. This activates the alarm that means it’s time for them to go to the toilet.

Some children get the hang of bed wetting alarms quickly and get used to going to the toilet as soon as the alarm goes off.

Others take longer and don’t wake quickly or take a while to learn what to do. If your child is young, they might need help learning the process of getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, changing their pyjamas or underwear if they’re wet, and taking the wet sheet off the bed.

Other treatments for bed wetting

A GP might recommend trying a medicine that reduces the amount of pee your child’s body makes while they’re asleep.

If this, along with a bed wetting alarm, doesn’t work, a GP may refer you to a specialist.

When to talk to a GP about bed wetting

If your child is over five and is wetting the bed, talk to a GP.

If they’re usually dry at night and have suddenly started wetting the bed, you should also talk to a GP.

Last updated:
Reviewed by:
Lead GP at Livi Dr Rhianna McClymont
Dr Rhianna McClymont, Lead GP at Livi