An upset girl sitting on her bed worried about bedwetting causes.

What causes bedwetting in children?

Bedwetting is not a behavioral problem or because your child is lazy, rebelling or disobedient. It is not something that they can control and so it cannot be avoided. There are numerous causes and they differ depending on the type of enuresis (the fancy medical term for bedwetting) your child suffers from.

Primary Enuresis (developmental) is when your child is still developing and has not had any significant amount of dry nights in their lifetime.

Secondary Enuresis (environmental) is when your child has demonstrated the ability to stay dry at night for an extended amount of time, but then starts to wet the bed again. Keep in mind that secondary enuresis is rare.

The most common cause of bedwetting is simply they are not fully developed yet. In time, the bedwetting will stop on its own. There are situations where it can be a medical concern. However, this only accounts for 1% of all cases.

Primary vs. Secondary Bedwetting

Causes of Primary Bedwetting

• Having a small bladder that is not equipped to hold a normal amount of urine throughout the night.

• Being a deep sleeper and the nerves connecting the bladder to the brain have not fully developed yet.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in which his/her breathing is interrupted. This triggers the kidney to produce extra urine at night because of enlarged or inflamed tonsils or adenoids. You might see additional symptoms including drowsiness during the day, mouth breathing or snoring at night.

Hereditary. There have been studies done where doctors have found a gene linked to bedwetting. When one parent wet the bed as a kid, their child has a 44% chance of also wetting the bed. If BOTH parents wet the bed, that percentage increases to 77%.

Frequent incomplete emptying of the bladder. If your child goes potty and cuts off the stream too early leaving urine in the bladder, this can start to cause problems. You can test for this at your doctor’s office using bio-feedback.

• The bladder could be producing too much urine at night. This is caused by low levels of vasopressin, a hormone that tells the kidneys to release LESS water at night. If your child has low levels of vasopressin, they could produce excess water at night, sleep deeply, and end up with a wet bed.

Causes of Secondary Bedwetting

• Stress and anxiety. Perhaps something big has happened within the household that is causing turmoil or worry.  This could be a big move, a divorce, being physically abused, starting a new school, welcoming a new baby or other big life changes.

Diabetes. You might also see symptoms including thirst, fatigue and overall weight loss. When you have diabetes, you will have high levels of sugar in your blood and your body naturally creates more urine to try and flush this out.

• A kidney infection (urinary tract infection) makes it hard to recognize the urgency of needing to use the bathroom. There might also be symptoms during the day like leakage, going to the bathroom often or pain during urination.

• Constipation. If their bowels are constantly full, it can confuse the nerve signals, causing the bladder to think it is fuller than it actually is. By treating a constipation issue, you could possibly clear up bedwetting.


These are several factors you can study and explore within your child. Make sure you speak with your doctor so they can rule out any medical concerns. They can walk you through a treatment plan and most likely get you started by using an alarm.

Dr Sagie Therapee bedwetting alarm mat
GoodNites boys and girls disposable absorbent underwear for bedwetting