The Different Types of Bedwetting


Two kids laying on the bed
No matter how helpless and alone you may feel at times in your battle against wet nights, know that in addition to millions of other families facing the same issues, you also have a handful of invisible ninjas at your side, who will help you tackle any and all types of bedwetting and help your kid sleep with confidence. Let’s explore the different types of bedwetting and what you can do to help your child get through this phase.

The Difference Between Primary, Secondary, Nocturnal, and Diurnal Enuresis
Causes of Bedwetting
How to Help Your Child Cope with Bedwetting
The Big Picture

The Difference Between Primary, Secondary, Nocturnal, and Diurnal Enuresis

Experts distinguish between the different types of bedwetting (called enuresis by the pros) based on whether it has reemerged suddenly after a long period of dryness or been around since your kid’s potty training days, and when it occurs: at night, or during daytime.
First, let’s take a look at the two main categories of bedwetting, primary and secondary enuresis.
Primary EnuresisSecondary Enuresis

It is defined by wetting the bed (or even just the clothes) without a period of six consecutive months of nighttime bladder control. In other words, your kid was never fully toilet trained and the bedwetting is a continuation of that.

Also called primary bedwetting, this is the most common type of urinary incontinence among children. Over 75 percent of children affected by bedwetting have primary enuresis, and it is more likely to occur in boys than in girls.

This type of bedwetting happens because the sleeping brain isn’t yet able to recognize the messages sent by the full bladder, thus the child doesn’t wake to nature’s call.

Primary enuresis is not considered a problem until around the age of 5, because until that time it may simply be that potty training is ongoing. The good news is that if your child has this type of bedwetting, it’s more than likely they’ll eventually grow out of it with time.

Enuresis can be further categorized into nocturnal and diurnal enuresis. Here’s what you should know about both of them:
Nocturnal EnuresisDiurnal Enuresis

The most prevalent form of bedwetting, nocturnal enuresis (or nighttime bedwetting) affects 5 to 7 million children in the US. It happens when the child is sleeping and is basically synonymous with what’s generally understood as bedwetting: The serial, involuntary voiding of urine at night in children over 5 years old.

Causes of Bedwetting

The Ninjamas Squad identifies several factors that can contribute to those pesky urine patches in your child’s bed. The causes of bedwetting are different depending on which type of bedwetting your child has.

Causes of Primary Bedwetting

The causes of primary bedwetting past the age of 5 can include:
  • A small and underdeveloped bladder that can’t hold much urine, or overactive kidneys which make more urine at night than the bladder can hold
  • Poor daytime toilet habits, meaning that they will habitually ignore the urge to pee and will try to put off urinating for as long as possible – signs of this include leg crossing, squirming, and groin holding
  • Delayed brain development: Just like with so many other elements of development, each child is unique, and the brain-bladder connection can take a little longer to form for some children. As a result, they may not awaken when their bladder is full at night.
  • Underproduction of the antidiuretic hormone may cause your child’s body to make more urine at night than their bladder can hold.

Causes of Secondary Bedwetting

Secondary bedwetting is often a sign of an underlying medical or psychological problem and is often accompanied by daytime wetting. Here are some of the most common causes of secondary enuresis:
  • Drinking too much water before bed or consuming caffeinated drinks (these have a diuretic effect)
  • Genetics can also play a part as children with enuresis often have a parent who used to have the same problem at around the same age. The good news is that most of these children will grow out of their bedwetting phase at about the same age as their parent did.
  • Stressful events, such as moving schools, moving homes, the arrival of a sibling, or major conflict between parents can affect your child’s bladder control.
  • Medical conditions such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) can also make it difficult for your child to control urination. Daytime and nighttime accidents, pain during urination, red or pink urine, as well as a stronger and more frequent urge to pee are some of the most common signs and symptoms of a UTI.

For even more info on the science behind bedwetting, let the Ninjamas Squad bring you up to speed by reading our guide on bedwetting 101.

How to Help Your Child Cope With Bedwetting

So, what can you do to help if your child is wetting the bed? Our undercover nighttime protectors have a few suggestions up their sleeves.
If your child is like most other kids, their bedwetting experience will end before they grow out of their superhero pajamas-phase, either because their body develops and matures or because any underlying physical or psychological causes have been resolved.
In the meantime, to help stop bedwetting, you can:
  • Use a waterproof mattress cover to reduce any stress around the wet bed in the morning
  • Give your child positive reinforcement or rewards for each dry night to encourage not wetting the bed
  • Enlist the help of a stealthy and protective nighttime underwear such as Ninjamas. Equipped with built-in Pampers LockAway Channels and OdorMask™ Technology, Ninjamas nighttime underwear help your kid conquer smells and absorb wetness so that they can wake up feeling dry and happy no matter what happens during the night.

The Big Picture

Now that you’re familiar with the main types of bedwetting: primary, secondary, nocturnal, and diurnal enuresis you may have more clarity on your kid’s situation. If you’re in any doubt, chat to your child’s healthcare provider who will be able to give you a professional diagnosis and provide you with personalized advice on what steps to take next.
No matter what, stay positive and encouraging, and together with the Ninjamas Squad you can get through this bedwetting stage together.

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.