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Reasons Why Kids Wet the Bed (and what you can do about it)

By Lisa Hayden / September 15, 2020
Reasons Why Kids Wet the Bed

Reasons Why Kids Wet the Bed (and what you can do about it!)

You are finally relieved of your diaper changing duties! Congratulations! You have already converted your diaper changing table into a full blown toy storage area. Gone are the days of counting how much diapers you use in a year and how much expense you go through in cleaning your baby and their little cute bum. However, even if your child has mastered the daily routine of going to the potty, accidents still happen, especially at night.

child hiding his face behind his hands in embarassment

Bedwetting is pretty common for kids from age 2 to 8 and some go up to age 10. Your child wetting the bed suddenly is not a rare instance. It is something that a lot of kids experience, but there are ways to help your child achieve that perfectly dry night! And it starts with knowing what causes your child to wet the bed.

So, Mommies and Daddies, let's begin by knowing a simple term called ENURESIS. This is actually the medical term for your child's “accident”; while “bed-wetting” is called nocturnal enuresis. Your child loses control over his/ her bladder and ends up peeing accidentally. But just because it has a medical term, it doesn't mean that it is a disease, illness or disorder, ok? About 5 to 7 million kids wet the bed, so that's pretty common. In other words, about 1 out of 5 kids of age five, and 1 out of 10 kids at the age of 10 still wet the bed.

There are common reasons why kids wet the bed

1. Heredity

Let's admit it; you are once a bed wetter. If you were a child wetting the bed at age 10, then chances are that your little one would be a bed wetter too. It only means that your genes tell your body make-up that you still have a weak control of your bladder for long periods of time. It is common for this to happen and that kids do eventually grow out of it. But make sure you don't make fun of your kid wetting the bed. It is already embarrassing enough as it is and letting them know about it makes them feel lesser about themselves.

2. Oversleeping and Deep Sleeping

Some kids have a difficulty in waking up. They often wake up lazy, grumpy annoyed and end up having dreams of waking up and going to the toilet and pee—OOPS! This is one reason why kids wet the bed. Kids have this overwhelming feeling of sleeping in and this restricts them from actually waking up. When they are deeply asleep or in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage, their awareness of having a full bladder flies out the door causing the wetting his bed sensation. This is pretty easy to overcome though. Setting a bedtime and wake-up schedule allows you to help them have a better understanding of their body clock. They will eventually have this instinct of waking up at certain hours of the day and go on with their daily routine.

3. Night Scare

This is obviously a very common reason why kids wet the bed. Horror movies, thrillers and nerve-wracking shows and movies can scare your child senseless, even in their sleep. Kids often get mortified over things they watch especially if you use it to scare them. They control their bladders in fear of monsters and ghosts being in their presence. And this leads to wetting the bed due to a full bladder.

4. Liquid Monster

It takes about two to five hours for the body to process liquids and turns it into pee. But if your child kept drinking a lot just before going to sleep, you better prepare for a diaper. There is a huge possibility that your child will end up peeing in the middle of the night leaving you with a messy clean-up, a broken night's sleep, and a very irritated child.

5. Late Bloomer

Potty training can be difficult but if your child is a late bloomer but it does not make you a failure. Meaning, your little one only started to feel the urge to pee at a later time in his/ her life. Some kids take early, some kids walk late and some kids just happen to find going to the potty challenging. Introducing potty training to your kids does not have a time limit. You can start early or anytime you think your child is ready. But if your little one is a late bloomer, keep trying on introducing potty tricks and routines to help your child understand the concept of going to the potty.

Medical Concerns Causing Bedwetting

There are also some concerns where parents deal not just with your child wetting the bed at age 7 or 8 or 9 or more, but there are also some parents and kids who need to deal with bedwetting as a symptom of an underlying problem. Here are some medical reasons why your child wets the bed.


You may not know it but your child being constipated can make them wet the bed. That's because when the bowels are full of poop, it presses against the bladder. This then limits the capacity of the bladder to hold liquid making your child wet his bed.

Hormonal Factors

The body produces this hormone called arginine vasopressin or ADH. This hormone is an antidiuretic hormone. What it does is that it helps your kidney manage a certain amount of liquid in your body. It also tells your bladder how much water it can hold. Lacking this hormone means that your child may have shorter bladder control leading to sudden accidents both in daytime or night time.

Infections in the Urinary Tract

Urinary tract infection or UTI is pretty painful for your child. Once your child contracts UTI, they will have a hard time controlling their bladder. Infections can be contained and treated if detected early so your job is to monitor your child and to administer the needed medication given and prescribed by your pediatrician.

Abnormalities in the Spinal Cord or in the Central Nervous System

This is a more serious concern that can lead to bedwetting among other stuff. The central nervous system controls the entire functions of your body and one of them is the ability to go to the toilet. A problem in the spinal cord prevents the body from functioning the proper way. This abnormality in the spinal cord limits the body from being able to control the way the urinary system works and these results to your child bedwetting even until his/ her teens.

What to do Next...

Go to the Doctor

Going to the doctor is a precautionary thing. It's better to be safe than sorry. So, go ahead and schedule an appointment with your pediatrician. The thing is, you already know how your little child does. If you find something odd, you go ahead with your instinct and don't act on a 'let's wait and see' mindset.

If you have a child who has been having dry nights for months now, and your child wets the bed suddenly, don't be too alarmed. Just ask your child some basics. Did they have too much milk the night before? Did you happen to watch a scary movie that evening? Does he/she hurt when peeing? Do they feel anything else aside from wetting the bed? Are there any other symptoms to bedwetting at night? Is it more than the routine bedwetting or more than that? Ask and evaluate. If something is off, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician.

What can the doctor do to help?

Well, first of all, the doctor will evaluate your child. If needed, the doctor will have your child undergo a series of tests like urinalysis or a pee test to rule out Urinary tract infection. The doctor will also have your child undergo a more thorough physical to rule out many possibilities causing the unusual bedwetting. If things are alright, then your doctor will just send you home with your child ail-free and happy.

Behavioral Therapy

This means that your doctor's appointment went well. You just need to help deal with your child having 'accidents'. Now, let's talk! There are so many ways for your child to overcome the sudden or occasional bedwetting. Here is a list of things you can do for your child when bedwetting has become a more than occasional scenario.

Be Honest

Did you know that three out of four bedwetters have either a parent or a really close relative who used to wet the bed? Now that you know, you have to be honest with your child. Kids need to know that they shouldn't be ashamed for the accident they had last night.

Kids who know that their parent or parents or other relatives also used to wet the bed gives them a boost of confidence and a more open relationship to you and a more open mind to overcome the bedwetting. Knowing that they are not alone in this ordeal makes them realize that they shouldn't feel bad about themselves and that they should be optimistic to have a dry night tonight.​

Be Patient

You really have to be patient. If you are done with diapers, you may opt to have your child try out mats underneath the sheets. You don't want to get the mattress wet, do you? Anyway, get a nylon mat or waterproof mat and put it underneath the sheets. That way, the mattress stays dry. If not, just get your child some absorbent pants.

Your child will find bladder maturity soon; you are just a few more steps away before achieving a completely dry night. So keep up with a patient and optimistic mind and heart and it will rub off on your little one. Because, to be honest, whenever your child sees how disappointed you are when they wet the bed, they take it more seriously than ever. On the other hand, a positive reinforcement will give them a boost to targeting a dry night.​

Lessen Fluid Intake

Drinking too much milk or tea at night can be a big problem. You may want to change the bedtime routine of drinking milk before going to bed, so try reading a book, developing a sleep routine or sing your child a lullaby. Drinking milk or tea at night has its repercussion which is a very wet problem in the morning. Did you know that 50% of bedwetting finds excess fluid intake as the culprit? It's true, even adults find themselves rushing to the toilet because of a full bladder due to extra liquid intake.

Toilet Routine

Make sure your child has easy access to the toilet. Some parents already prep the toilet with the lights on at night or with a nightlight and a step stool ready at the toilet. Setting a goal for your child to go to the toilet in the middle of the night is a great way to have them stay dry and to give them that pinch of bravery. Make sure that you tell your child to always go to the toilet before going to sleep.


Bedwetting culprits are usually easy to overcome with time and with great parenting principles of involvement and discipline in developing good potty habits. But the reality is about 3% of the bedwetting are caused by things that need medical attention like constipation and UTI. Some are more serious like abnormalities in the central nervous system or the urinary system.

Urinary Tract Infections

Once your child is diagnosed with UTI, you have to be faithful in giving them their antibiotics. This can easily be overcome in a week. You have to make sure that your child develops good potty habits like wiping with a tissue after peeing. For girls, always instill the routine of wiping from FRONT to BACK! And for boys, always let daddy tell them to shake, shake, shake!

Always have a clean environment because bacteria are the main cause of UTI. Constantly changing the underwear and keeping the underwear dry is one of the ways to easily help your child with UTI. Changing the underwear twice or thrice in a day is alright. Once your child's underwear gets wet with a bit of pee, you can let them change it. Remember, wet underwear is a breeding ground for bacteria.

Central Nervous System Abnormality

This is a very rare cause of bedwetting. It doesn't even cover 1% of all bedwetters. Anyway, this can be identified along with other symptoms like poor motor skill and other developmental milestones that came in later in time. This can be diagnosed and treated with therapy and other more advanced medical treatment.

To sum it all up...

Bedwetting is completely normal. It is a part of a more advanced potty training that needs more attention to achieve a completely dry night. There are many reasons why kids wet the bed at night and knowing these causes is also a great way of how to stop bedwetting. So, no matter how old your child is, bedwetting can happen, even in adults! So be patient and be alert!

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