Daytime accidental wetting is much less common than
bed-wetting. But about 1 out of 4 children who wet the
bed at night also wet during the day.1
Knowing the cause of the wetting will help you and your child's doctor
decide on the best treatment. Daytime accidental wetting is more likely than
bed-wetting to develop after a child has had
bladder control for at least 6 months to 1 year (secondary diurnal enuresis). This pattern of wetting
is often related to a medical condition, such as an infection or a defect in
the urinary tract , or emotional
stress. Treating the condition will usually
stop the wetting. But daytime wetting can be a matter of normal development,
with no medical cause.
If daytime wetting begins after a child has
had consistent bladder control, consider the possibility that stress, such as
the birth of a new sibling, is the cause. Accidental wetting often stops after
the stress is addressed and managed. Some children may benefit from seeing a
mental health professional.
Daytime wetting as a part of normal physical development
Daytime accidental wetting (diurnal enuresis) is common in younger
children. Children may become so involved in play that they forget to go to the
bathroom. Also, they may hold on to urine too long. These children:
- Tend to empty their bladders only 2 or 3 times
a day compared with the normal 5 to 7 times a day.
- Often do not
empty their bladders when they first wake up.
- Often do not empty
their bladders completely when they use the bathroom.
Some children have accidental daytime wetting because they
try to hold their urine too long. To keep from wetting themselves, children may:
- Squirm, cross their legs,
hold their thighs together, or use their hands to hold back the
- Stand very still, looking as if they will wet themselves if
If a child has accidental wetting during the day, it can
affect his or her performance in school or friendships. The child may be afraid
of wetting at school or on outings. He or she may also be afraid of being
teased by friends. Treatment can help the child lead a more normal life and
have higher self-esteem.
When to call a doctor
Daytime accidental wetting may
be a normal part of a child's growth and development, or it may be caused by a
medical condition. Getting your child's problem evaluated by a doctor is
important if there is any chance a medical condition is the cause.
Call the doctor if:
- Your child has signs of a
bladder or kidney infection or other symptoms, such as
back pain, pain in the belly (abdominal pain), or
fever. Signs of a bladder or kidney infection include:
- Cloudy or pink urine or bloodstains on
- Urinating more often than usual.
or complaining when urinating.
- Urge to urinate frequently but
usually passing only small quantities of urine.
- Your child is leaking (dribbling) when urinating
or has a weak urine stream. The child may have a birth defect in the urinary
- Your child age 4 or older is having daytime accidental
wetting and is leaking stool. The child may have stool blocking the intestines,
caused by having constipation over a period of time.
- Your child had bladder control but is wetting again.
Evaluating daytime accidental wetting