How to Deal with Bedwetting in Preschoolers

    How to Deal with Bedwetting in Preschoolers

    Bedwetting in preschoolers is a common condition since most are still undergoing toilet/potty training. However, even if your child is successful in potty training in the daytime, it may still pose quite a challenge come bed-time.

    What is Bedwetting?

    Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis, is the unconscious urination during sleep. Children below 6 years old, usually preschoolers, are prone to bedwetting.

    Bedwetting is normal since young children, ages 3 to 5 years old, are still adjusting to changes brought upon by potty training. Preschoolers still have a hard time waking up in the middle of the night to go pee or poop in the toilet, which results in bedwetting. Fortunately, children, ages 5 to 7 years old, are most likely to outgrow bedwetting.

    Children who often bed wet feel anxious and ashamed. This is why parents must explain and let their children understand that bedwetting is a part of their growth.

    What Causes Bedwetting in Preschoolers?

    Bedwetting occurs for several reasons:

    Overactive bladders

    Some children have an overactive bladder, which causes frequent and unintentional urination in the daytime as well as nighttime.

    Overproduction of urine

    While your child is asleep, their kidneys may be overworking and overproducing urine, which makes the bladder full. Once the bladder is full, the brain will signal it to release the urine even though the child is still asleep.

    Deep sleeper

    The most common cause of bedwetting in preschoolers is deep sleep. There is a greater possibility that your child becomes a bedwetter if they are a deep sleeper. Being unable to wake up despite the urge to urinate causes bedwetting.


    Built-up bowel in the rectum presses against the bladder hindering its function to hold the urine, which causes bedwetting.


    A child might inherit genes from the parents that might cause bedwetting. If both the parents or a parent are bedwetters, then there is a higher chance for their offspring to inherit the trait. On the other hand, if both parents do not wet their beds, there is less to no chance that their child will become a bedwetter.

    Further studies are still ongoing to prove and provide scientific evidence between the connection of genes and bedwetting.

    Emotional stress

    Stress due to a change in the environment and other emotionally taxing events can cause bedwetting in preschoolers.

    Hormonal imbalance

    Vasopressin or antidiuretic hormone (ADH) is responsible for decreasing the amount of urine produced by the kidney to slowly fill the bladder. Normally, the level of ADH rises at night, which prevents the bladder from filling up quickly during sleep.

    However, there are cases that the ADH does not rise at nighttime, which makes the kidneys produce the amount of urine it makes during the daytime. Bedwetting occurs when the level of ADH is low.

    Health problems

    There are medical conditions that may cause bedwetting such as diabetes, sleep apnea, urinary tract infection (UTI), neurological problems as well as abnormalities in the kidneys or the bladder.

    bedwetting in preschoolers

    How to Manage Bedwetting?

    Here are some tips on how to manage bedwetting in preschoolers:

    • Train your child to take lesser fluids during nighttime.
    • Avoid giving your child caffeinated drinks such as chocolate milk or hot cocoa before bedtime as it can irritate the bladder.
    • Set a bedtime toilet routine for your little one. Make sure that they go to the bathroom before sleeping.
    • Do not put your child at fault when they bed wet. As mentioned previously, bedwetting is an involuntary action to urinate while asleep. Instead of punishment, give your child support and let them feel that you are there to help.
    • Talk to your child about bedwetting. Explain to them that bedwetting is a part of a child’s growth and development, and it will eventually go away soon.
    • Console your child if they get upset about wetting the bed. Do not invalidate your child’s feelings as emotional stress can make bedwetting worse.
    • To prevent your mattress from getting wet and soggy use a waterproof mattress cover.
    • When your child bed wets, let them help you clean up. This step will help your child to know what happens when they wet the bed. It will also give your child a sense of responsibility.
    • Do not forget to reward your child during dry nights. This will motivate them to get better with sleeping without bedwetting.

    When to See the Doctor

    Bedwetting in preschoolers may be a sign of a more serious medical condition, especially if it started suddenly or returns after several months. Conditions such as urinary tract infection, diabetes, or kidney and bladder problems might be the cause of why your child bed wets.

    Call your doctor if:

    • Your child is 7 years old or older but still wets the bed.
    • Bedwetting comes back after several months of staying dry.
    • Your child complains about a burning sensation or discomfort in the genitals after urinating.
    • Your child snores at night.
    • The feet or ankles of your child are swelling.
    • Your child starts to wet his pants during the day more frequently.

    Always consult your doctor about treatments and medications that can help your child get through bedwetting. Communicating with your medical provider about your child’s situation will help in preventing other medical problems from developing.

    Key Takeaways

    Bedwetting in preschoolers can be a bit stressful for parents. However, we must understand that children are just going through another phase of their childhood.

    Being more patient, caring, supportive, and loving towards children during this vulnerable phase will help them overcome bedwetting and achieve another milestone sooner.

    Learn more about Parenting, here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    John Paul Abrina, MD

    Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

    Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao · Updated Jun 18, 2021