What causes bedwetting in children during sleep?

October 8, 2020 4 mins read
What causes bedwetting in children during sleep?

Picture this: you go to your child’s room to see if they are sleeping well, only to find that there has been another bedwetting episode.

We know that as a parent, you want to help your child as much as you can, which is why we’re here to help you do so.

What causes bedwetting?

Different things can cause bedwetting problems in children. These include:

A full bladder

During a bedwetting episode, your child’s bladder becomes full, but they don’t wake up to go to the loo. Some children’s bladders fill up faster than others. Your child might have to drink a little less in the hours before bed than their siblings or peers.

A small bladder

Your child could also have a smaller bladder. Even if they don’t drink many liquids before bed, the little that is in their system can fill their bladder up. This means that they will need to drink smaller amounts, or not drink anything a few hours before bed.


Being constipated can make your child wet the bed. This happens because the bowels put pressure on the bladder. Your child can become constipated from various things like overeating, or eating too little fibre, changes in their diet, allergies, and any medication they’re taking.

Urinary tract infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can trigger bedwetting problems in children. Bladder control becomes a lot more difficult when you have a UTI and can increase the urgency and frequency of urinating.


People with diabetes can produce more urine. If your child is potty-trained but is still wetting the bed, as well as displaying other symptoms of diabetes, consult your doctor. They will be able to diagnose if your child does have diabetes and recommend treatment.


Stress can cause problems like insomnia and bedwetting in kids. Different things can cause stress and anxiety in children, such as:

  • Moving to a new school
  • Being bullied
  • Getting a new sibling
  • Traumatic events like an accident or death in the family
  • Problems in the home like parents that fight a lot, divorce, or troubles with siblings
  • Change in their routine

Things to help with your child’s bedwetting problems

There are many things within your power that you can do as a parent to help your child.

Provide reassurance

First, reassure your child that they didn’t do anything wrong. Your child can feel embarrassed if they wet the bed and if they become stressed about it, the stress can then increase the chances of it happening again (and again).

Approach the situation with love and tell them it’s okay if they did wet the bed.

Limit liquids before bed

Limit how much your child drinks before bed. Try to set a time when you stop giving them anything to drink unless they are really thirsty. The last thing you want is a full bladder during the night.

Ask your doctor about medication

Doctors can prescribe Desmopressin Acetate (DDAVP) to help reduce bedwetting. It helps to control urine production.

However, medication is only a temporary solution. It treats the symptoms and not the underlying cause. The moment your child stops taking the medication, the bedwetting problems can come back.

Consider a child therapist

A child psychologist will be able to help you if you suspect that stress or trauma is causing your child to wet the bed. They will recommend steps that you can take to help your child deal with their anxiety and stress.

Try equine therapy

Equine therapy (horse therapy) can help children with many things, from autism to ADHD and even bedwetting if it’s caused by stress or anxiety. Horse therapy has many psychological benefits, including improved self-esteem, adaptability, emotional awareness, independence, and stress management. A few months of horse riding lessons could mean dry sheets forever.

Try to make them as comfortable as possible

While trying to treat the causes of bedwetting, you still need to help your child feel comfortable and stay as dry as possible at night. You also want to make the cleaning process as easy as possible.

Here’s a life-changing tip: invest in a plastic mattress cover. The sheets might be wet, but at least you won’t have to wash the mattress again.

You can also put a towel under the bedsheet to provide extra absorption and try potty training pants.

At what age is bedwetting a problem?

Children usually outgrow bedwetting by the time they’re six years old. Bladder control should be stronger and fully developed at this point.

But what if you have a 10- or 13-year old who wets the bed? If your child is still wetting the bed around this age, you can consult your doctor to see if there is an underlying problem like a UTI or diabetes.

Buy that plastic mattress cover, limit liquids before bed, and get help from your doctor if needed. Do what you can to help your child stay dry, right through the night.