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Day wetting

Most children have gained daytime bladder control by the age of four. If a child regularly wets during the day after this age professional advice is necessary.

Loss of bladder control during the day can be called daytime incontinence, while loss of bladder control during sleep is called bedwetting (also called nocturnal enuresis). Children can have both day and night wetting.

Why do children wet during the day?

Most wetting occurs because the bladder is not working normally.

Common problems are:

  • Overactive bladder - this occurs when the bladder has problems storing urine. The child has urgency (bursting) and may leak urine on the way to the toilet. They may also go to the toilet more than eight times per day.
  • Under-active bladder - this occurs when the child goes to the toilet infrequently (less than four time a day) and sometime urine escapes without any warning as the bladder overfills. Urinary tract infection is common.
  • Leakage - this can occur if the child is in the habit of putting off going to the toilet and wets when the bladder is overfilled.
  • Incomplete emptying of the bladder - some children have learned to empty their bladder incompletely and this can also lead to wetting.

Structural problems are rare. However a medical specialist should manage any child identified as having an anatomical or neurological cause for their incontinence.

Day wetting is NOT caused by:

  • laziness
  • naughtiness, or
  • attention seeking.

As a parent/carer what should I do?

Seek professional help

But first watch your child and take note of his or her bladder and bowel behaviour over a few days.

  • How often does your child go to the toilet?
  • How often is your child wetting?
  • What happens when they wet?
  • How often do their bowels open and is it difficult for your child?
  • How much does your child drink?
  • What type of fluids is your child drinking and when?

You are now ready to visit a health professional who will undertake the following:

  • a detailed medical history
  • a urine test to exclude infection of the urinary tract (bladder and kidneys)
  • a physical examination of the spine (back) and the bladder opening to exclude any nerve involvement or structural problems
  • an abdominal examination which may help exclude constipation, and
  • an ultrasound of the urinary tract.

To find a continence health professional in your area visit our continence service provider directory or contact the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.

If you are caring for a child with special needs and incontinence, practical tips and advice are available to assist you with your care. Read more on caring with someone with incontinence.