Bedwetting: why do children wet the bed?

Toddler girl sleeping on a bed

Stages of bedwetting in children’s development are perfectly normal. It’s a hurdle, but one you’ll both get over – and understanding why children wet the bed and the steps you can take to tackle it can make the whole process a little easier. Here’s everything you need to know about the reasons for bedwetting and what to do about it.

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Why do children wet the bed?

More often than not there is no specific reason for bedwetting in children, but a number of commonly cited bedwetting causes include:

  • Being a deep sleeper – sometimes children don’t react to their brain sending signals that it’s toilet-time as they are so deeply asleep. 
  • Producing more urine than their bladder can cope with.
  • Being constipated.
  • Reacting to emotional stress – bullying, changing schools or family issues can result in behaviours like bedwetting.
  • Having an overactive bladder.

What age does bedwetting stop, and why do kids wet the bed when they’re a little older?

All kids are different, but if they are wetting the bed often after they turn five years old, then you may want to start looking at potential bedwetting causes.

Why do kids wet the bed after having a stretch of dry nights? It’s still common for over-5s to wet the bed every now and again while they’re still getting used to taking themselves to the toilet at night, but it’s worth checking in with your child to see if there are any external worries weighing on their minds. If you’re worried that there may be any underlying medical reasons for bedwetting, then it’s important to get your doctor to check it out.

How to prevent bed wetting

There isn’t really a sure-fire way to stop bed wetting but there are a number of things you can try with your child:

  • Reassure them that they’re not in trouble. Telling them off for wetting the bed could create more anxiety, which could actually prolong the bedwetting stage.
  • Limit how much they drink before bed. Don’t let them have anything to drink for at least 1 hour before bed except for small sips of water.
  • Encourage regular trips to the toilet. Do this throughout the day but definitely at night and right before bed.
  • Be supportive. Praise them when they have a dry night but don’t punish them if they have an accident.
  • Make bedtime as relaxing as you can. Lots of cuddles, reading, singing, and anything that you know puts your child at ease.
  • Clean up any accidents quickly and quietly. Whether you’re soaking up stains from the mattress, putting towels under their bed linen, or removing wet bedsheets, don’t make a big deal out of it.

Remember, unless it’s an underlying medical condition, bedwetting isn’t a big deal and most children will go through it. Be patient and reassure your child that they’ll get past this stage while doing what you can to prevent bedwetting accidents and clear up any little accidents.

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