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Bedwetting in children

Mīia moenga me mīia tarau ki ngā tamariki

Bedwetting, sometimes called nocturnal enuresis (nok-turn-all en-yur-e-sis) is when a tamaiti (child) goes for a wee when they are asleep in bed. Bedwetting is normal in many tamariki (children) under the age of five, and very common in tamariki children and young people. Some tamariki wet their pants during the daytime as well.

Causes of bedwetting in children

Bedwetting is a medical condition and isn’t anyone’s fault. It's not because your tamaiti child is lazy or naughty.

The three main reasons why tamariki children wet the bed are:

Bed wetting can also be made worse by:

Helping your child with bedwetting

It's important to remember that most tamariki will grow out of bedwetting.

Treating bedwetting

There are several ways to treat bedwetting including a special bed alarm that wakes them up if they wet the bed. Some tamariki children may need to take medicine to help them stop wetting the bed. Read more about different treatments for bedwetting.

Getting help for your child with bedwetting

Bed wetting is not usually considered a problem in tamariki under the age of five.It’s a good idea to see a GP if:

It may be helpful to complete this chart before seeing the GP, to give the doctor a good idea of the bowel and bladder habits of your tamaiti.

Several support services are available such as:

Public Health Nurse

Public health nurses can provide support for tamariki aged 7 years and over with some bedwetting problems. You can talk to your GP about this service, or self refer by phone (03) 383 6877 or email

Nurse Maude Continence Advisory Service

The Nurse Maude Continence Advisory Service is for tamariki aged 4 to 16 who also have other conditions such as autism, developmental delay, physical disabilities or complex medical problems. The service can provide products and assessment with a continence advisor. Talk to your GP about referral to this service.

University of Canterbury Bedwetting Programme

The University of Canterbury's free bedwetting programme runs twice a year. It is for tamariki 8 years and over who are wetting at least once a week.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed January 2022.


Page reference: 47575

Review key: HIUTC-12626