Create a confident & healthy eater with my new book: Baby Self-Feeding

On Sale Now! Quarto Amazon Indigo Barnes & Noble Indiebound

Has Your Child’s Bed-wetting Gone on for Too Long?

January 20th, 2015 | By: Dr. Jeremy Friedman
Learn why children wet the bed and at what age parents should be concerned.

In This Article

Has Your Child’s Bed-wetting Gone on for Too Long?

Bed-wetting, also known as enuresis, happens in about 40 percent of three-year-olds and 20 percent of five-year-olds. It is more likely to happen in boys and tends to run in families. If you were a bed-wetter, your child has a 45 percent chance of following in your wet footsteps. If both parents were bed-wetters the chance goes up to 77 percent!

Bed-wetting is an unconscious and involuntary behavior. It’s important to help your child understand that it is not his fault, and that you don’t blame him.

Most parents become concerned around age five or six. Children almost always outgrow their bed-wetting, with only five percent of 10-year-olds having problems and two percent of 16-year-olds. However, bedwetting at a later age can increast the risk of other issues such as sleepwalking.

What Causes Bed-Wetting?

Primary enuresis, meaning your child wasn’t previously night-time trained, is a result of a delayed maturation of the parts of the nervous system that control the bladder. Different children are ready for bladder control at different ages. Also, the bladder may not be developed enough to hold urine for a full night. Or, the child might not be developmentally capable of recognizing that the bladder is full and that she needs to wake up and go to the washroom.

Secondary enuresis is when your child was trained and reverts to bed-wetting or even wetting during the day (diurnal enuresis). It can often result from a new stress in your child’s life, such as the arrival of a new sibling, illness, bullying, divorce or a death in the family. Very rarely, underlying conditions such as diabetes or sickle cell anemia can cause bed-wetting. Constipation and various bladder problems could also be a factor.