Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Bedwetting in children

7-minute read

Key facts

  • Bedwetting is common in children and generally causes no lasting problems.
  • In most children it gets better on its own.
  • Bedwetting can run in families and is also called ‘nocturnal enuresis’.
  • Bedwetting can sometimes have a medical cause, such as constipation.
  • Treatment options include bedwetting alarms.

What is bedwetting in children?

Bedwetting is when children empty their bladder (do a wee) while they are asleep, wetting the bed. It might happen occasionally or every night.

Bedwetting is common in young children and generally causes no lasting problems. It can sometimes continue in older children.

Bedwetting is also called ‘nocturnal enuresis’. It can run in families and can be upsetting for the child and stressful for parents.

Types of bedwetting

There are 2 types of bedwetting:

  • Primary bedwetting — when your child has never gone for more than a few months without wetting the bed.
  • Secondary bedwetting —when your child has been dry for over 6 months and then begins to wet the bed.

Secondary bedwetting may be caused by:

  • a medical problem
  • family changes
  • an emotional event

Why do some children wet the bed?

Bedwetting can occur because a child:

  • makes a large amount of urine through the night
  • has a bladder that can only store a small amount of urine
  • is a deep sleeper
  • is constipated

A child is more likely to wet the bed if either of their parents were bedwetters as children.

Bedwetting is sometimes caused by a medical problem, such as:

Children have little or no awareness that they are wetting the bed overnight. They do not wet the bed for attention, and it isn’t an issue with behaviour.

Most children who wet the bed overcome the problem between the ages of 6 and 10 years.

When should I see a doctor?

It’s a good idea to see your doctor if your child is still wetting the bed at age 7 years.

If your child has not wet the bed for a while and starts to do so again, it’s important to see your doctor.

Also see your doctor if your child also has problems with bowel or bladder control in the daytime.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

What will my doctor ask about?

Your doctor will ask about your child’s pattern of bedwetting. They will also ask whether your child has been dry overnight at any time.

Your doctor will check your child’s general health, including whether they may be constipated.

Sometimes tests may be recommended, such as a urine (wee) test.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

How is bedwetting treated?

Treatment for bedwetting is usually not recommended for children under 7 years old. That’s because many children grow out of bedwetting on their own.

If your child has constipation, treating the constipation may help with the bedwetting.

Treatment options include:

  • bedwetting alarms
  • medicines
  • self-help strategies

Bedwetting alarms

Bedwetting alarms are the most effective treatment for children from 6 to 7 years old.

Bedwetting alarms make a noise or vibrate to wake your child when it detects moisture. There are 2 types of alarms:

  • a bell and pad alarm
  • a personal alarm

You can hire or buy an alarm — talk to your doctor about the different options. Your doctor can also talk with you about how to:

  • use the alarm system properly
  • encourage your child to use the alarm

It can take 6 to 8 weeks for bedwetting alarms to work. Both you and your child need to be motivated to use the alarm system.


There is medicine that can help with bedwetting in older children. Medicine may be prescribed by your doctor if:

  • alarm therapy has not worked or is not suitable
  • short-term improvement is needed (such as for a camp or sleepover)

Bedwetting may return when these medicines are stopped.

Sometimes medicines and alarms are used together to treat bedwetting.

How can I help my child?

Here are some tips for helping your child with bedwetting.

  • Remind your child to go to the toilet regularly during the day and before going to bed.
  • Put a nightlight in the toilet and encourage your child to go to the toilet during the night.
  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of water during the day and continue drinking in the evening.
  • Avoid anything that contains caffeine in the evenings such as hot chocolate, tea and coffee.
  • Protect your child’s mattress with a waterproof pad or cover.
  • There are underwear pads your child can use for certain occasions, such as school camps or holidays.

Be patient and supportive and remember that it is not your child's fault. Make sure that siblings understand this too.

  • Reassure your chid that this is a common problem and they should not feel embarrassed.
  • Be positive after dry nights and be understanding after wet nights.
  • Don’t punish your child for wetting the bed.

Resources and support

Visit the Continence Foundation of Australia or contact the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 for advice and support.

The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne has videos on bedwetting alarms.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2023

Back To Top

Need more information?

Bedwetting factsheet | SCHN Site

Bedwetting is a common issue in young children that usually gets better by the age of five. Regular bedwetting in older children should be checked by a doctor.

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Bedwetting in Children | Sleep Health Foundation

This is a fact sheet about Bedwetting in Children. Bedwetting, also known as nocturnal enuresis, is a common issue for those under 6yrs old.

Read more on Sleep Health Foundation website

Bedwetting alarms and medication | Continence Foundation of Australia

How does a bedwetting alarm work? ... Bedwetting alarms work by setting off an alarm when they detect moisture. A bedwetting alarm teaches ...

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Bedwetting in children | Continence Foundation of Australia

Bedwetting in children. Also known as nocturnal enuresis, bedwetting is the involuntary passing of urine (wee) that occurs at night during the main sleep period.

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Bedwetting or enuresis: how to handle it | Raising Children Network

Bedwetting happens when children don’t wake in the night to wee. Bedwetting alarms are often recommended for children over 7 years. Your GP can advise you.

Read more on website

Bedwetting tips for parents | Continence Foundation of Australia

Bedwetting can be upsetting for children and their families, but there are things you can do to help your child. Don't punish your child for wetting the bed. · Don't shame the child in front of family or friends. · Don't lift the child out of bed at night to

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Toddler tips

As ‘no’ becomes your toddler’s favourite word, read some tips to deal with common problems such as temper tantrums, fussy eating and bedwetting.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Sleep and your child

Common sleep disorders include nightmares and night terrors and sleepwalking. Bedwetting in children can also be a problem in early childhood.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Incontinence in Children | Continence Foundation of Australia

Incontinence in Children. Learn more about the common bladder and bowel control problems experienced by children and how they can be managed and/or treated.

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Urinary incontinence in children | Raising Children Network

Children with urinary incontinence can’t control their bladders and wet themselves in the day. There are many treatments, starting with healthy toilet habits.

Read more on website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.