School Health Service

Bed Wetting

Nocturnal enuresis (NE) is the most common type of urinary incontinence in children and is defined as wetting during sleep in a child aged five years or older.

There are three common things that could contribute towards bed wetting:

  • Excessive production of night time urine
  • Bladder over activity or small capacity
  • Failure to wake in response of bladder signals (lack of arousal).

The exact cause of bedwetting in individual children may be linked to one or more of the above and may involve factors such as family history, fluid intake and any associated problems such as constipation.

As a parent, it can be frustrating to deal with bed wetting but there are some things you can do to manage the bed wetting and support your child:

  • Children should be encouraged to go to empty their bladder throughout the day
  • The majority of fluids should be taken during the day rather than the evening
  • Your child should have an easy-to-follow route to the bathroom in the night. Maybe talk to them and see if they would find it easier having a hallway or bathroom light left on
  • A bedtime routine should be established involving going to the bathroom when getting ready for bed but also right before they get into bed
  • Your child may wake up during the night because they need to go to the bathroom. Encourage them to go to the bathroom and try to urinate should they wake up.

Children with life-limiting and complex health needs often take longer to gain bladder and bowel control but may benefit from a toilet training programme.

First line management of nocturnal enuresis consists of advice on fluid intake and toileting.

If you have concerns about your child’s bed wetting, you can get support from a number of healthcare providers including school nurses, your GP, enuresis nurses or your child’s health visitor if they are under the age of five.

This information has been provided by our school nurses and NHS Choices.