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Bedwetting, or the loss of bladder control during sleep, can be embarrassing for children and frustrating for parents. Although experts do not know what causes it, several factors may be involved, including anxiety, overproduction of urine at night, and not being able to tell that the bladder is full during sleep. Bedwetting is common in younger children, and the problem usually disappears naturally over time. For cases that don't disappear on their own, treatment can involve medications, moisture alarms, bladder training, or other options.

Understanding Bedwetting

Many children wet their bed. In fact, it is so common that it is often considered a normal part of growing up. In most cases, the cause of bedwetting is physical and not the child's fault. Their bladder might be too small. Or the amount of urine produced overnight is too much for the bladder to hold. As a result, the bladder fills up before the night is over. Some children sleep too deeply or take longer to learn bladder control. Children don't wet the bed on purpose.
Despite it most often being normal, bedwetting can be embarrassing for the child and frustrating for the parents. Just keep in mind that many children experience occasional bedwetting, and treatment, if needed, is available for most children who have difficulty controlling their bladder.
Bedwetting, or sleepwetting, is known medically as nocturnal enuresis or nighttime incontinence. It is a medical problem, not a behavior problem. Scolding and punishment will not help a child stay dry. Most children grow out of bedwetting naturally.

How Common Is Bedwetting?

Bedwetting is very common before the age of 6. As children grow up, it usually gets better on its own. About 10 percent of 5-year-olds, 5 percent of 10-year-olds, and 1 percent of 18-year-olds experience episodes of bedwetting. It is rare in adulthood.
Wetting at night is about twice as common in boys as in girls.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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