“What causes bedwetting?” & other bedwetting questions answered

So many questions, so many old wives’ tales. We spoke to the experts to understand why children wet the bed and the true causes of bedwetting.

4 min read 88%

“What causes bedwetting?” & other bedwetting questions answered

So many questions, so many old wives’ tales. We spoke to the experts to understand why children wet the bed and the true causes of bedwetting.

4 min read 88%

What are the common causes of bedwetting?

It’s generally agreed that bedwetting (also known as enuresis) can be caused by a number of developmental or emotional factors, such as stress and anxiety.  Occasionally, it can be an indication of an underlying medical issue. We spoke to the experts to understand the most common causes of bedwetting, and how you can help.

Brain and bladder on different wavelengths

According to experts, bedwetting is often caused simply because the bladder and brain are not yet making the necessary connection.

While we’re asleep, our bladder sends signals to our brain telling it when it’s full. This is how we know to “hold on” and wake up to go to the loo. Some children haven’t formed this connection yet, so their brain doesn’t pick up the signals and can cause bedwetting. Alternatively, an overactive bladder may be producing too much wee at night. 

Either way, these are things that often resolve with age. In the meantime, you just need to support your child as best you can.

Bladder is small, or needs exercise

Just like any other muscle, the bladder needs to be exercised to keep it in tip-top condition. Drinking enough water throughout the day is essential in making sure the bladder develops and is able to reach its full capacity.

Drinking too much before bedtime

Medical experts such as the NHS and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence advise that children need to drink around six to eight glasses of water a day to keep their bladder in good shape.

Drinking plenty of water leads to a child understanding what a full bladder feels like, as well as encouraging the bladder to reach its full capacity. If they’ve had plenty to drink during the day, try to tail off drinking about an hour or so before bed.

It's also a good idea to:

  • choose water and water-based drinks for them
  • avoid fizzy and caffeinated drinks (including sadly hot chocolate), as these may make bedwetting worse
  • make sure your child stays well-hydrated, drinking between six to eight glasses of water a day

Frequent constipation

Being backed up can be a factor in causing bedwetting episodes in some children. This is because the constipated bowel squeezes the bladder and causes it to empty before it is full. If your child is constipated, address this and it should help with bedwetting.

Urine infections

According to the NHS, a urine infection can cause bedwetting. It can be difficult to tell if your child has a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), mainly because the symptoms are not always clear. On top of that, your child may not be able to easily communicate how they feel. However, some common signs of a urine infection include:

  • pain when weeing
  • needing to wee frequently
  • deliberately holding in their wee
  • changes to their normal toilet habits, such as wetting themselves or wetting the bed
  • pain in their tummy, lower back or side

This is not an exhaustive list, however, so if you’re unsure it’s always worth checking with your child’s doctor.

Underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes

If your child is usually dry at night, bedwetting can sometimes be the first sign of diabetes. If they are also thirstier than usual, passing large amounts of wee at once, seem increasingly tired or fatigued and are losing weight despite eating well, then it’s important you visit your doctor. While it may not be diabetes, these are some of the tell tale signs to watch out for.

A hormone imbalance

Sometimes kids' bodies just don’t produce enough antidiuretic hormone (ADH) to slow down the production of urine at night. Naturally, this means they keep producing the same amount of wee as they do during the day, and are much more likely to wet the bed.

Bedwetting can run in families

There’s also some evidence that bedwetting runs in families. For example, if one or both parents experienced bedwetting, then the likelihood increases that their child will too.

Busting some bedwetting myths

As bedwetting can be an embarrassing subject that people don’t relish talking about, a lot of myths surround it. These persistent misconceptions can be quite damaging.

“Is it my fault my child is wetting the bed?”

No. There are many reasons for kids wetting the bed, but the way you parent is unlikely to be much of a factor. Helping them get through bedwetting, however, is something parents can have a very positive impact on.

“Does wearing Huggies® DryNites® Pyjama Pants prolong bedwetting?”

No, it’s not generally believed that protective sleepwear slows a child’s progress towards dry nights. 

Allowing your child a dry night’s sleep by using Huggies® DryNites® Pyjama Pants can help build their confidence and empower them to manage the issue. When asked, 80% of parents agree that Huggies® DryNites® Pyjama Pants help their children manage bedwetting.

“Is bedwetting caused by my child’s deep sleep?”

Not directly, no. Children wet the bed because their brain is missing signals from the bladder that it’s full or their body is producing too much wee at night, rather than because they are in a deep sleep.

Although they are not able to rouse themselves to go to the loo, bedwetting children are likely to have poorer sleep quality than children who are dry.

“Is my child deliberately wetting the bed?”

Absolutely not. The NHS, NICE, ERIC—in fact everyone—agrees that bedwetting is not the child’s fault and that they do not choose to wet the bed to be annoying or difficult. It’s important that parents understand this and react with empathy and support in order to help their child overcome bedwetting. Never punish a child for wetting the bed.

“Should I wake my child up to wee during the night?”

Amid the misery of constant wet sheets, disrupted sleep and upset children, it’s not surprising that some parents try lifting their child out of bed and taking them to the loo.

According to the NHS and ERIC, though, this is not a strategy that will help long-term as it does not help the child to realise themselves when they need the loo.

“My child won’t go on sleepovers for fear of wetting the bed. What can I do?”

It can be heart-breaking to see your child struggle with fear and embarrassment instead of looking forward to activities such as sleepovers and camping trips.

Try to talk to your child and help them find coping strategies. Using protective sleepwear might be one suggestion, along with advice about how to discreetly deal with wet PJs and underwear.

In fact, using Huggies® DryNites® Pyjama Pants and Huggies® DryNites® Bed Mats can help reduce your child’s anxiety. In a survey, 80% of parents agreed that Huggies DryNites® Pyjama Pants helps their children sleep better. Happy kids, happy days.

You’re not expected to have all the answers

There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to bedwetting. Remember, as a parent you’re not expected to have all the answers, and there are support groups to help you and your child on your journey towards dry nights and happy days. 

In the meantime, explore our bedwetting advice to give you and your child the confidence on your journey to drier nights. Explore articles on everything from how to support your child through bedwetting to preparing for school trips

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