It's completely normal for younger children to occasionally wet themselves during the day. This usually happens when they are busy doing other things, are playing or get excited.
As children become older, daytime wetting can be more difficult to deal with.
Some children will start to wet themselves during the day after being dry for some time, while others may have never been fully dry at all.
For most children who experience daytime wetting, there is no serious underlying cause. But it’s always worth discussing the issue with your child’s GP or public health nurse (school nurse) to make sure you and your child get the right support.
Some children who wet themselves during the day also wet at night and, by treating the daytime wetting, children may become dry at night much quicker.
The bladder and how it works
The bladder is like a stretchy, crumpled bag with lots of creases. The walls of the bladder are made of muscle, and relax to allow it to fill with urine/wee. When the bladder is full, a message is sent to the brain to say it needs to empty. When urine is passed, the bladder is relaxed and contractions squeeze out the urine.
Drinking regularly through the day can help to increase the amount the bladder can hold. But, going to the toilet too frequently can reduce the amount of wee the bladder can hold.
What could be causing daytime wetting?
- Fluids – restricting fluids will make the symptoms worse as urine becomes more concentrated, which can irritate the bladder.
- Fizzy (carbonated) and dark coloured drinks can also irritate the bladder. Caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, cola, energy drinks and alcohol) can increase the production of urine
- Suddenly and frequently needing to wee can be caused by an overactive bladder
- Small bladder capacity – this can be caused by an overactive bladder or not drinking enough fluids
- Often, children delay going to the toilet because they are busy playing or engaged in an activity. Sometimes children don’t always fully empty their bladder either
- Constipation – a full bowel can press against the bladder, causing the feeling of needing to wee more often
- A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) – increases the urge to wee, sometimes with a stinging sensation. A routine urine test by your child’s GP can rule this out
What can I do to help my child stay dry?
- Encourage your child to drink 6-8 water based drinks throughout the day
- Give lots of praise and encouragement. You could use a reward chart to encourage your child to have 6-8 drinks during the day. Try to stay calm even when things go wrong
- If your child empties their bladder too frequently, it won’t get used to stretching to its full capacity so don’t fall into the trap of encouraging your child to wee too often. Use prompts and reminders to encourage your child to use the toilet regularly throughout the day
- Speak with your child’s school to ensure your child is able to drink enough and go to the toilet when they need to
- Encourage your child to stay on the toilet until their bladder has emptied completely. Try counting or singing a song
- Avoid constipation by offering a balanced diet which includes fluids, fibre containing cereals, fruit and vegetables and encourage physical activity
- Check that your child is able to easily manage their clothing so they can go to the toilet on their own. Elasticated waistbands on their trousers or skirts are a great option