Children may differ in their development of the ability to wake from sleep at night and not wet the bed.  It can take until the child is aged 5 ½ years before they stop wetting the bed (or needing to wear a nappy) at night. Some children may stop wetting the bed only to start again when they are older. 

The causes of bedwetting are not fully known; however, four factors have been associated with bedwetting. Children who wet the bed are more likely to be difficult to rouse from sleep, produce large volumes of urine at night or have a small bladder capacity. These children are also more likely to have a family member who also wet the bed.   

If your child wets the bed at night things to check are: 

  • Is your child constipated (e.g. do they pass hard, lumpy stools, or empty their bowels infrequently, or do they strain to do a poo? Is the poo very large causing it to block the toilet?) 
  • Is the child drinking an age plenty of fluid (mostly water) each day? Check the Fluid intake guidelines for children to see if your child is having enough fluid

Caution: If your child is often thirsty, goes to the toilet often or wees a lot this could be due to a health or medical condition. If this applies to your child, please seek urgent medical advice.

  • Do they mostly drink water with limited amounts of milk and fruit juice? (Fizzy drinks, energy drinks and cordials may irritate the bladder and should be limited). 
  • Do they snore or have other sleep issues such as sleep apnoea? (These conditions may be linked to an increased urine output at night). 

How much urine should a child’s bladder hold? 

If a child has a small bladder capacity it may difficult to sleep through the night without having to get up and go to the toilet. 

Management and treatment of bed wetting 

What doesn’t work to treat bedwetting  

For more information contact us.

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Kylie – parent of a child that wets the bed 

Kylie rang our service as she was concerned about her five-year-old daughter, Mia, who was wetting the bed. Kylie had tried limiting Mia’s drinks in the late afternoon and evening and was also getting up at night to wake Mia and take her to the toilet.

Our advisor explained that it may take children until they around 5 ½ years old before they gain bladder control during sleep. Kylie was advised to encourage Mia to drink well throughout the day and was cautioned against cutting out drinks in the afternoon and early evening. Kylie was discouraged from waking Mia at night to take her to the toilet. Kylie was provided with information on obtaining a referral from Mia’s doctor to a bedwetting clinic if Mia continues to wet the bed past 5 ½ years of age.

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Anastasiya’s story

“As a mum of two young children, I have experienced the joys of two pregnancies and postpartum recoveries. I was shocked after the birth of my first child to discover that my pelvic floor muscles had become weak. I sought advice from Bladder and Bowel Health Australia and learnt the importance of exercising these muscles. This knowledge helped, and because I was better informed second time around, I have now fully restored the dignity of my body and truly enjoyed the changes - and my motherhood. Thank you, Bladder and Bowel Health Australia, for informing young families about bladder and bowel health issues.” 

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Doreen – carer of her husband who has dementia 

Doreen was becoming exhausted caring for her husband Tom, who has dementia. Tom was not always making it to the toilet on time and needed his trousers to be changed several times a day. Every day Doreen was also washing bedlinen and the four towels that Tom was laying on at night as he was soaking through his pull-up pants. 

Tom was receiving a high-level Home Care Package, and Doreen was able to arrange with their provider for some of Tom’s package to be allocated to funding continence assessment and management.  

Our advisor went to Tom’s home and conducted a thorough continence assessment. A continence management plan was developed with input from Doreen, and appropriate incontinence aids and linen protection were organised. Doreen is relieved that Tom’s incontinence has reduced, and her washing load has lessened. Doreen is now confident that she can continue caring for Tom in their home. 

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Gary – experiencing leakage after his recent prostate surgery 

Gary met with one of our Bladder and Bowel Health advisors, as he was concerned about his urine leakage that was persisting after his radical prostatectomy five weeks earlier.   

Gary discussed his concerns with the advisor and was reassured that he was making good progress towards regaining bladder control. This reinforced the information he had received from his urologist. Gary was encouraged to switch to a smaller incontinence pad rather than continuing to wear the pull- up incontinence pants he had worn since his surgery. The advisor arranged some smaller pads for him to trial and provided details on where he could buy them close to his home. 

Gary was encouraged to drink plenty of fluid (particularly water) and to increase his fruit and vegetable intake to avoid constipation. Gary was uncertain if his pelvic floor muscles were working properly and he was referred to a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Gary left the clinic in a brighter frame of mind, confident that he was improving and had clear strategies to further support his recovery.