Bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) can beworrying and frustrating, but it's common for children to accidentally wet the bed during the night. The problem usually resolves in time.

Bedwetting is common in young children but it gets less common as a child gets older.

In the UK, it's estimated that about:

  • 1 in12 children wet the bed regularly at four and a half years old (regularly is defined as at least twice a week)
  • 1 in 40children wet the bed regularly atseven and a half years old
  • 1 in 65children wet the bed regularly atnine and a half years old

About 1 in 100 people continue to wet the bed into adulthood.

Bedwetting is slightly more common in boys than girls.

When to see your GP

Bedwetting is only really a problem if it begins to bother the children or parents. Only rarely will this be considered a problem in children under five years old. Many families first seek treatment when the bedwetting affects a child's social life (for example, preventing sleepovers).

Medical treatments aren't usually recommended for children under five (although exceptions can be made if a child finds bedwetting particularly upsetting).

If your child frequently wets thebed and finds it upsetting, speak to your GP for advice.

In many cases, the problem runs in families.

Bedwetting could be caused byyour child:

  • producing more urine than their bladder can cope with
  • having an overactive bladder, meaningit can only hold a small amount of urine
  • being a very deep sleeper so they don't react to the signalstelling their brain their bladder is full

Constipation is frequently associated with bedwetting, especially in children who don't wet themselves every night. In these cases, bedwetting may happen during the night when the child has not had a poo during the day. Sometimes, treating constipation is all that's needed to treat bedwetting. Untreated constipation makes any treatment of bedwetting much harder.

Occasionally, bedwetting can be triggered by emotional distress, such as being bullied or moving to a new school.

In rare cases, bedwetting may be the symptom of an underlying health condition, such as type 1 diabetes .

Don't tell them off or punish them for wetting the bed as this won't help and could make the problem worse. It's important for them to know they haven't done anything wrong, and it will get better.

If these measures alonedon't help,a bedwetting alarm is often recommended. These are moisture-sensitive pads a child wears on their night clothes. An alarm sounds if the child begins to pee. Over time, the alarm should help train a child to wakeonce their bladder is full.

If an alarm doesn't work or is unsuitable, medication called desmopressin or oxybutinin can be used.

Most children respond well to treatment, although bedwetting sometimes returns temporarily.


ERIC, The Children's Bowel & Bladder Charity , is a UK-based charity for people affected by bedwetting. The charitys website provides useful information and advice for both children and parents.

ERIC also has a telephone helpline 0845 370 8008, open Monday to Thursday from 10am to 2pm.

Bedwetting in adults

About 1 in 100 people continue to wet the bed into adulthood, and some people only begin to wet the bed as an adult.

This usually requires referral to a specialist such as an urologist (a specialist in treating conditions that affect the urinary system) or an incontinence adviser.

, bedwetting in adults and bedwetting in teenagers .

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 17 Jan 2017