What causes bedwetting?

Bedwetting is a medical condition that can be caused by different things. Bedwetting does not happen because of anything you or your child has done or has not done but finding the cause can help with working out how to treat it.

It is important to discuss your child's bedwetting with their doctor or nurse. This should help understand why it is happening. This information can then be used in choosing the right treatment for your child. In the meantime, letting your child know that it is not their fault will help reassure them.

Your child may be wetting the bed because of the following:
A lower than normal level of a hormone called vasopressin
Read more
This hormone is released by the brain and controls the amount of wee made in the kidneys during the night. If there is not enough vasopressin, this may be causing your child’s bedwetting.
A smaller than normal bladder
Read more
If your child’s bladder is smaller than average, they may not be able to hold the wee they produce in their sleep.
Bladder muscle twitching
Read more
Your child may have a condition called overactive bladder, where their bladder muscles get twitchy. This can cause your child to wee more often, or not have enough notice to get to the toilet.
Unable to wake up
Read more
Children who wet the bed are not able to wake up when the bladder signals that it needs to empty, so they wee while they are asleep.
Read more
If your child does not poo regularly or their bowel is full, it can press against their bladder. This can make it more difficult for your child to stay dry at night.
Urinary tract infection
Read more
An infection of the urinary tract can give your child the feeling of needing the toilet more often. This can cause or make your child’s bedwetting worse.
Genes – bedwetting runs in families
Read more
If bedwetting runs in your family, your child could have inherited it. There is an increased risk if one or both parents and/or another close relative, also wet the bed.
Anxiety, stress or changes in routine
Read more
If your child is having a difficult or stressful time, this can trigger bedwetting.
But don’t worry, bedwetting can be treated!

See what you can do to help your child overcome their bedwetting.

Learn more

If you have specific questions or concerns, talk to your child's doctor, school nurse, health visitor or pharmacist.

Bladder and Bowel UK offer a confidential helpline. If you would like to speak to someone, email: bbuk@disabledliving.co.uk or phone: +44 (0)161 214 4591. You can also visit this website for more information: www.bbuk.org.uk/children-young-people/children-resources.

Support, information and resources are also available from ERIC, The Children’s Bowel and Bladder Charity: www.eric.org.uk and their freephone helpline: +44 (0)808 169 9949


This website is intended for UK residents only.

Job code: UK-MN-2300010 I Date of preparation: June 2023