What Are the Causes of Bedwetting?


Two parents with their kids
Accidents happen to everyone, but if your kid wets the bed at night, you’re probably wondering why it’s happening as you Google possible solutions. The bad news is no one, not even medical experts, know exactly what causes bedwetting. But, the good news is it’s usually not something to worry about, especially with the Ninjamas Squad in your corner! Read on to discover some of the physical and psychological reasons behind bedwetting and learn how Ninjamas can help as you get to the bottom of what’s causing the bedwetting.

Why Do Kids Wet the Bed?
What Are the Possible Physical Causes of Enuresis?
What Are the Psychological Cause of Bedwetting?
The Big Picture

Why Do Kids Wet the Bed?

Bedwetting is kind of a mystery, as experts haven’t yet put their finger on the WHY behind kids wetting the bed. Although the exact cause may not be settled yet, there are a few possible physical reasons for bedwetting, like your child having a small bladder that hasn’t yet fully developed, or emotional causes, like stress.
In the next two sections we’ll cover some of the possible causes, but if you’re unsure which may be relevant to your child, check in with his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
In the meantime, bedwetting doesn’t have to mean wet sheets and a rushed morning cleanup. Bring in the squad at Ninjamas for dry mornings while you work with your child’s provider to work out the underlying causes.
Keep in mind, sometimes with bedwetting it’s just a waiting game as most kids grow out of it, so having absorbent bedwetting underwear that looks just like real underwear will help your child feel more confident and comfortable until he or she gets through this stage.

What Are the Possible Physical Causes of Enuresis?

Nocturnal enuresis—the medical term healthcare providers use for bedwetting in children—can happen for many reasons. Although only your child’s provider can make a diagnosis, here are some of the possible physical causes of bedwetting that could be at play:
  • Bladder issues. Your kid may have a small bladder that runs out of room easily, or have muscle spasms that cause the bladder to release pee before the bladder is full. This is typically nothing to worry about as some children’s bladders simply develop a little later than others.
  • Genetics. There is some evidence to show bedwetting can run in the family. If you or your partner wet the bed as a kid, then your child might too.
  • Deep Sleep. Some children can be so deep in dreamland, they don’t wake up even when their bladder is bursting.
  • Brain development. It can take time for the brain and the bladder to learn to talk to each other properly, which means your kid’s brain may not pick up on the bladder’s signal that it’s full. As a result, your child’s brain may not wake up in time for your child to race to the toilet.
  • Kidneys make too much urine. More pee means your kid will need the bathroom more often and your child may not wake up in time.
  • Constipation. If your kid is constipated, the full bowels can put pressure on the bladder, which could cause bedwetting.
  • Hormonal problems. There is a hormone called the antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which tells the body to make less pee at night, but if there is not enough of this hormone, then your child’s body may be producing too much pee and your child may not make it to the toilet in time.
  • ADHD. Some studies say that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have brain chemistry issues that are related to bedwetting.
  • Sleep apnea. Does your child snore a lot or struggle to breathe at night? If yes, then the bedwetting may be linked to sleep apnea—when breathing stops and starts in sleep. Some studies say that when bedwetting is linked to sleep apnea it happens because when oxygen levels decrease the heart excretes a hormone-like protein that tells the body to release water. Talk to your healthcare provider if you think sleep apnea may be behind the bedwetting.
  • Urinary tract infections. A UTI is an infection that can make it hard for your kid to control the need to pee. If you take your kid to his or her healthcare provider with bedwetting woes, your child’s provider may ask for a urine sample to check for signs of an infection.
  • Diabetes. Diabetes is a condition affecting blood sugar regulation, and an increased need to pee, especially at night, is one of its symptoms. If diabetes is suspected, your child’s healthcare provider may recommend a simple urine test to diagnose it or rule it out.
  • Water and caffeinated beverages. Although there aren’t really any foods that cause bedwetting, drinking beverages containing caffeine or simply drinking too much water can increase urine production at night. Try to stop your kid from drinking caffeinated drinks, like certain sodas, or from drinking too much fluid close to bedtime.

What Are the Psychological Cause of Bedwetting?

Sometimes bedwetting is psychosomatic, meaning there may be psychological or emotional causes for the bedwetting.
Stress is usually the main culprit behind this kind of bedwetting (known as secondary enuresis), which is when a child has learned to control their bladder but regresses at some point later on.
Here are a few of the things that commonly stress kids out:
  • Moving homes
  • Moving schools
  • Parents getting divorced
  • Losing a parent or someone they love
  • Other big life changes.

Sometimes stressful life events can’t be avoided, so if stress is the emotional cause of the bedwetting, here are some ways you can help your child manage the stress:
  • Let your kid know that you’re there to support them and that they can always turn to you for support
  • Make sure your kid gets proper rest and good nutrition
  • Make time for your child every day, whether it’s just playing together, hanging out at home together, or spending quality time doing something fun one-on-one
  • Let your kid communicate as much or as little as they are comfortable with. Let him or her know that you are there for them no matter what.
  • Prepare your child for potentially stressful situations, for example, by talking about all the exciting aspects of going to a new school, or about how they will be able to make new friends if moving to a new city
  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider for personalized tips on managing the psychological reasons for bedwetting.

When to See the Doctor

If your kid has been potty trained and toilet-savvy for six months or more and then suddenly begins to show signs of regression or still wets the bed after the age of 7, then it’s a good idea to take your child to his or her healthcare provider for a checkup.
It’s also best to seek medical advice if your kid:
  • shows changes in urination frequency during the day
  • feels pain, a burning sensation, or strains while peeing
  • has a very small or narrow stream of urine that’s constant or occurs just after going to the toilet
  • has cloudy or pink urine, or bloodstains in their pants
  • shows a drastic change in personality
  • has poor bowel control
  • needs to pee after physical stress, like coughing, running, or lifting
  • has trouble walking
  • snores or stops and starts breathing at night
  • suffers from continuous dampness

The Big Picture

Most of the time bedwetting will go away either by itself or once the underlying physical or psychological cause has been resolved. In the meantime, the Ninjamas Squad will help prevent the morning cleanup and reduce any embarrassment your child feels about waking up to wet sheets. With stealthy and absorbent underwear like Ninjamas, your kid can feel more confident as he or she goes to bed at night and more relaxed in the morning.
Other than Ninjamas, using a bedwetting alarm, limiting the amount of fluids your child drinks just before bed, and reducing the stress your kid feels around major life changes going are other tricks you can try. For more great tips, check out our article on how to stop bedwetting.

How We Wrote This Article

The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Mayo Clinic. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.