More than 100 000 Australian children will wet the bed tonight.

Bedwetting also call enuresis is the involuntary loss of urine that occurs in children during the night.2

Bedwetting is extremetly common in children under 6 and is considered a natural part of development and most children eventually grow out of it.


Primary enuresis, the medical name for bedwetting, typically starts when kids are toddlers. It is very common among kids who are 6 years old or younger. About 15% of 6-year-olds wet the bed. And about 5% of 10-year-olds wet the bed.

Bedwetting often runs in families: Most kids who wet the bed have a relative that did it, too. If both parents wet the bed when they were young, it''s very likely that their child will as well


The main symptom is involuntary urination, usually at night, that occurs at least twice per month 1.

Children are not considered to suffer from nocturnal enuresis unless they are at least 5 years old and still wet the bed two or more times monthly2.

Management options

Drug Therapy

Anticholinergics, stimulants, sedatives, antispasmodics 4.

Non-pharmacologic Therapy

Motivational therapy, awakening programs, bladder training exercises, hypnotherapy, diet therapy, physiotherapy 5.

Acupuncture 6,7.

Settling Problems


Managing sleep and settling problems are common concerns for the parents of young children. Sleep difficulties affecting children aged 3 to 12 years can perpetuate daytime sleepiness, irritability, overactivity and problems with concentration; affecting school performance and general daytime behaviour.

As well as the child’s sleep being disrupted; parents and other family members often also have their sleep interrupted.

Statistics / Prevalence

• Settling problems are concerns for parents with young children occurring in about 16% of three year olds and about 12% of 8 year olds.


Settling problems include, a child:

  • refusing to go to bed and settle to sleep alone
  • falling asleep in the living area
  • going to bed at the same time as their parents
  • refusing to sleep unless their parents lies down with them or cuddles them to sleep
  • who keeps coming out of their bedroom once left to sleep
  • insisting on a prolonged bedtime ritual

Sleeping Problems

Sleep problems are when sleep is disturbed after the child has gone to bed and fallen asleep. Sleep difficulties affecting children aged 3 to 12 years can perpetuate daytime sleepiness, irritability and problems with concentration; affecting school performance and general daytime behaviour. Sleep problems occur in 14% of 3 year olds and are still found to occur in 5% of 8 year olds.

Sleep problems include:

  • a child waking frequently in the night and disturbing their parents by calling for attention
  • a child waking and creeping into bed with their parents


1) Medlineplus Medical encyclopedia: Bedwetting Urol Clin North Am. (2004)
2) Thiedke, C. Nocturnal Enuresis. American Family Physician. 2003; 67: 1499-1506.
Youth Studies Australia. 2003; 22: p8.
3) Neveus, T. The role of sleep and arousal in nocturnal enuresis. Acta Paediatr. 2003; 92: 1118-1123.
4) Houts, A., Berman J., Abramson, H. Effectiveness of psychological and pharmacological treatments for nocturnal
enuresis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 1994; 62: 737-745.
5) Gera, T., Seth, A., Mathew, J. Nocturnal enuresis in children. Int. Jour. Urology. 2002; 1; 13-25.
6) Serel, T., Perk, H., Koyuncuoglu, H., Kosar, A., Celik, K., Deniz, N. Acupuncture therapy in the management of persistent
primary nocturnal enuresis. Scand. J. Urol. Nephrol. 2001; 35: 40-43.
7) Honjo, H., Kawauchi, A., Ukimura, O., Soh, J., Mizutani, Y., Miki, T. Treatment of monosymptomatic nocturnal enuresis
by acupuncture: a preliminary study. International Journal of Urology. 2002; 9: 672-676.