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The Different Types of Bedwetting


Two kids laying on the bed
To win the battle against bedwetting, you need to understand your enemy. Bedwetting isn’t a one-size-fits-all problem. There are different types of bedwetting accidents, and the Ninjamas squad is here to make sense of those differences, so you can help your child sleep confidently and wake up feeling NINJAWESOME!

Understanding Bedwetting Types
Primary Enuresis
Secondary Enuresis
Nocturnal Enuresis
Diurnal Enuresis
Causes of Bedwetting
How to Help Your Child Cope with Bedwetting
The Big Picture

Understanding Bedwetting Types: Primary vs. Secondary; Nocturnal vs. Diurnal Enuresis

Experts distinguish between the different types of bedwetting (called “enuresis” by the pros) based on the time of day it occurs, and whether the bedwetting problems have emerged after a long period of dryness or persisted since your kid’s potty training days.
Let’s dive into these different types of enuresis (bedwetting):
Primary EnuresisSecondary Enuresis

Also called primary bedwetting, primary enuresis is the most common type among children. This type of enuresis is defined by your child wetting their bed or clothes within the first 6 months of potty training. In other words, your kid never fully toilet trained and the bedwetting is a continuation of that.

Over 75 percent of children affected by bedwetting have primary enuresis, and it is more common 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 up to use the bathroom.

Primary enuresis isn’t considered a problem until around the age of 5 – until then, it may simply be that a kid’s potty training isn’t quite done. If your child experiences this type of bedwetting, they’ll more than likely grow out of it in time (AKA, this is the kind of bedwetting almost every child experiences once or twice in their life).

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) happens when a child has accidents in the middle of the night due to a physiological, development or medical reason (or sometimes it’s just an accident). Nocturnal enuresis affects 5 to 7 million children in the U.S. and is more common in boys than girls.

Causes of Bedwetting

The causes of bedwetting can depend on which type of bedwetting your child is dealing with.

Causes of Primary Bedwetting

Primary bedwetting past the age of 5 can be the result of:
  • A small/underdeveloped bladder or overactive kidneys. If this is the case, it means your child’s body produces more urine at night than their bladder can hold.
  • Poor daytime toilet habits. Does your child ignore the urge to pee and will try to put off going for as long as possible? There are physical tells for this, like leg crossing, squirming and groin holding. If you see this, try to help your kid break these habits.
  • Delayed brain-bladder communication. Every child is unique, and the brain-bladder connection can take a little longer to form for some children. As a result, they might not wake up when their bladder is full at night.
  • Hormonal imbalance. The underproduction of the antidiuretic hormone may cause your child’s body to make more urine at night than normal.

Causes of Secondary Bedwetting

Secondary bedwetting is often a sign of an underlying medical or psychological problem and is often accompanied by daytime wetting. Some of the most common causes of secondary enuresis are:
  • Liquid intake. Drinking too much water or caffeine before bed can throw off your kid’s nighttime routine.
  • Genetics.Kids who wet the bed usually have a parent who had the same problem at around the same age.
  • Stress. Common psychological and emotional stressors can affect your child’s bladder, like big life changes such as moving schools, moving homes, the arrival of a sibling or major conflict between parents, such as divorce.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs). 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.

The Ninjamas Squad has gathered even more knowledge on this subject if you want to learn more — we call it bedwetting 101.

How to Help Your Child Cope With Bedwetting

Okay, so you’ve learned about the different types of bedwetting, but what you really want to know is how to make it stop. We get it. Late nights and wet sheets are no fun. Your child’s bedwetting challenges may be caused by emotional or physical factors that may take time, patience and trial and error to overcome. That can feel overwhelming at times, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some powerful weapons at your disposal to help make coping with bedwetting problems less stressful. Things like:
  • Positive reinforcement or rewards for each dry night to encourage not wetting the bed
  • A waterproof mattress cover to reduce any stress around the wet bed
  • Powerful nighttime protection like Ninjamas Nighttime Underwear. Ninjamas fit like real underwear, and feature Pampers LockAway Channels and OdorMask Technology that help absorb wetness and odor quickly while your child sleeps. It’s the kind of bedtime backup your child needs so they can wake up feeling dry and confident. The Ninjamas squad is here to help!
For more solutions like these, check out our tips for how to stop bedwetting

The Big Picture

Bedwetting might seem simple on the surface, but there are actually different types of bedwetting: primary, secondary, nocturnal and diurnal enuresis. Understanding what type of bedwetting your child is battling is an important step in overcoming this completely normal (and stressful) part of life. Once you understand where your child is on the bedwetting spectrum, then you can start taking steps to manage the situation and use resources at your disposal to help work through it. Speak to your child’s doctor to rule out medical conditions. Find ways to manage your child’s stress and help them feel more at ease. Use solutions like mattress covers or powerful products like Ninjamas Nighttime Underwear to help your child cope a little easier. Through it all, remember to stay positive and encouraging, and together with the Ninjamas squad you can get through this!

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.