Patient Information



This offers information for people looking after children who wet the bed.

Many children wet the bed and are still in nappies or pull-ups at night, even after they have started school.

Most children and young people grow out of bedwetting without any medical treatment, but there are lots of things you can do to try and help.

Why do children wet the bed?

Children generally wet the bed for the following reasons.

  • Their bladder is not trained to stretch enough to hold a big amount of wee overnight.
  • Their brain does not recognise the signals that their bladder is full and they need to wake up to wee.
  • They produce too much wee at night.

How can I help my child at home before I seek medical advice?

You can do the following to help your child.

  • Encourage them to drink plenty of fluids during the day.  Try to give them mainly water or sugar free squash to drink. If you give them lots to drink it helps teach their bladder how to stretch.  (See Drinking Guide section below to learn how much fluid to give children of different ages.)
  • Make sure they go to the toilet regularly.  Ideally they will go around 4 to 7 times a day, including just before bedtime.
  • “Double void” before bedtime. This means asking them to wee at bedtime, then do something else (such as brush their teeth) and then try to wee one more time before getting into bed.
  • If they have had enough to drink during the day, it may help if you stop giving them drinks 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Make sure they have easy access to a toilet or potty at night.  You can give them a nightlight or torch so they can find it easily.
  • Talk to them about the bedwetting and agree a plan together.  It will help you find a solution if you and your child have a positive approach.
  • Try using a reward system, such as a sticker on a chart for every time they use the toilet before bed, or drink well during the day.
  • Look at our leaflet on constipation if you think your child might be constipated (see More information section below).  Discuss this with your GP if you are worried.
Boy drinking water

Drinking guide

Use this table to calculate the amount of daily fluid that your child needs.

Drinking guide table

When do I contact my GP for advice?

Contact your GP if:

  • Your child develops bedwetting after being dry for more than 6 months.  This may be caused by a new medical condition, such as a urine infection or diabetes, or a stressful life event.
  • You have tried the suggestions contained in this leaflet and your child is still wetting the bed after the age of 7 years.

Children between 5 and 7 years of age may also be referred to a hospital paediatrician for treatment if your GP recommends it.  This will rule out any underlying medical causes such as constipation. It will also enable you to discuss treatment options with the paediatrician.

What is the treatment for bedwetting?

Bedwetting alarms
  • These alarms work by sensing moisture, which causes the alarm to sound.  Ideally this wakes up your child so they can get to the toilet before they completely empty their bladder.
  • A bedwetting alarm is best used when both parent and child are motivated to improve the bedwetting because it is disturbing their sleep.
  • You can buy different brands of bedwetting alarms online. You may also be able to borrow one if you are referred to a bedwetting clinic (see section below). You can seek advice from eric.org.uk before you buy (see More information section below).
  • A medicine called desmopressin is sometimes prescribed for bedwetting. It is taken at bedtime and it stops your child making as much urine overnight. This medicine is not suitable for all children so you need to discuss it with your child’s GP.
  • Desmopressin can also be used in the short term to help with a special event, for example an overnight school trip or short break at a camp.  (See the More information section below).
  • Sometimes medicine and alarms are especially effective if used together.

Bedwetting clinics

You can be referred to a bedwetting clinic, where you can talk to a doctor or nurse who specialise in helping children who wet the bed.  Your GP may refer you to a bedwetting clinic, or to a paediatrician, if they think this will help.

More information

NHS information on constipation in children

ERIC information on bedwetting

ERIC information on bedwetting alarms
Medicines for Children information on medicines for bedwetting

Image by Freepik

Bedwetting - Kingston Hospital Download PDF


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