Daytime wetting in children

The loss of bladder control during the day is called daytime wetting (or diurnal enuresis). The loss of bladder control during sleep is called bedwetting (or nocturnal enuresis). Children can have both day and night wetting.


Most wetting occurs because the bladder is not working normally. Common problems are:

  • Overactive bladder – this occurs when the bladder has problems storing urine (wee). The child has urgency and may leak urine on the way to the toilet. They may also go to the toilet more than eight times a day.
  • Underactive bladder – this occurs when the child goes to the toilet infrequently (less than four times per 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 empty their bladder incompletely and this can also lead to wetting.

Physical problems are rare. However, a medical specialist should manage any child identified as having a physical or neurological cause for their incontinence.

Day wetting is NOT caused by attention-seeking, naughtiness or laziness.

Tips for parents and carers

As a first step, watch your child and take note of their 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?

Once you have monitored your child for a few days, 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 to exclude any nerve involvement, structural problems or constipation
  • an ultrasound of the urinary tract.

If you are caring for a child with special needs and incontinence, practical tips and advice are available to assist you with your care in our carers section.

For teachers

Toilet Tactics guides teachers and students in understanding and promoting healthy bladder and bowel habits. Toilet Tactics educates teachers, students and parents through a range of fun, user-friendly resources that are free to access.


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.


Last Updated: Wed 24, Apr 2024
Last Reviewed: Fri 27, Mar 2020