Kids Wetting Pants – Causes and Solutions

Kids wetting pants: Enuresis, which is an involuntary urinary condition, is also known as bed-wetting or urinary incontinence. Enuresis is common among children and oftentimes resolves itself. In cases where professional help is needed, treatments are available and effective. Let’s take a look at the causes and solutions..

Introduction

Daytime wetting, or bed-wetting, also known as urinary incontinence or Enuresis, may seem troubling at first but is oftentimes a normal occurrence in young children and doesn’t necessarily mean anything problematic is causing the issue. Though accidents may feel embarrassing and shameful to the child, Enuresis can often resolve itself. Depending on the duration and age of the child, however, professional help may be necessary. Let’s discuss reasons why your child might have Enuresis, concerns regarding the condition, and solutions for what you and your child can do during these situations.

toilet training
The toilet training process will naturally have regressions, but it’s important to keep encouraging your child and celebrate successes.

What is wetting pants called?

Wetting pants is known by several names, but the medical term is called Enuresis. It’s also called urinary incontinence or if it is limited to night time, nocturnal incontinence and bedwetting.

What is the average age children are toilet trained?

The average age that children are toilet trained is between the ages of 2 and 3 years old1. Some children may be toilet trained as early as 18 months old; however, this is uncommon, and a child should not be pushed to train that early.

You can read my article on Toilet Training Tips HERE.

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Is it normal for a child to be wetting pants after toilet training?

Yes, a child wetting their pants after being toilet trained is normal and should not be considered a setback. It’s hard enough for children to learn how to use the toilet but to go long hours during the day or even overnight is another feat altogether. Even when children start to wee and poo on the toilet, they are still learning how to control their bladders. In fact, 20%2 of children still wet the bed after the age of five, and about 1 in five3 Australian children age 5 or older wet the bed.

My son Andy was still wearing night nappies at the age of 8, and this didn’t concern me too much as he eventually grew out of it and was able to wake if he needed to go.

kids wetting pants
Daytime Enuresis, also known as diurnal enuresis or daytime wetting, is less common than night time Enuresis and is usually gone by age 4.

If a child is fully toilet trained, can they still wet their pants?

A child is considered fully toilet trained when they can tell their parents they need to pee or poo, go to the toilet themselves, and pull down their underwear, sit on the toilet, and relieve themselves. Even if your child is wetting their pants at night, they can still be considered fully toilet trained.

It’s important to note that if your child is fully toilet trained and they start wetting their pants out of the blue, or complain of any pain while urinating, or they are going more frequently, this could be a sign of a urinary tract infection, and you may need to seek medical help.

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What are the causes or reasons for urinary incontinence?

The true cause for urinary incontinence is uncertain, but there are several factors4 that might contribute to the condition: little bladder, overactive bladder, underactive bladder, not being able to wake up easily at night, hormone imbalance, recurrent urinary tract infections, sleep apnea, stress incontinence, diabetes, bladder instability, constipation, or problems with their neurological or urinary systems.

How common is daytime Enuresis?

Daytime Enuresis, also known as diurnal enuresis or daytime wetting, is less common than night time Enuresis and is usually gone by age 4. Around 10%5 of 5 and 6 year olds still experience daytime Enuresis and as kids age, this percentage should decrease and then disappear altogether as children learn strategies and ways to control their incontinence.

toilet training, kids wetting pants
Make sure you seek help from your health professional if your child is having symptoms you are concerned about.. in some cases, children will need medical help.

Is it normal for night time wetting to continue, even if a child is toilet trained?

As mentioned previously, being toilet trained means a child is able to determine when they need to go pee or poo, make their way to the toilet, and relieve themselves. Even being toilet trained, however, doesn’t mean a child won’t wet the bed at night. Many factors can contribute to night time wetting, and overcoming those factors can take time and patience.

For my son Andy, it was important I didn’t restrict any liquids at night time as he has a kidney condition which means it’s vital he is always well hydrated. While it may be tempting to restrict liquids before bedtime, it’s important you speak with a medical professional about this and ensure your child is not restricted to liquids which can lead to dehydration.

What are the symptoms of urinary incontinence?

There are several symptoms of urinary incontinence6. These include: urine leakage, complete loss of control over the bladder, needing to go to the toilet frequently, accidents, urinating while sleeping, having UTIs, daytime wetting at the age of four and above, and night time wetting at the age of 7 and above.

toileting, kids wetting pants
There are times when a child may need to see a doctor for help to treat daytime wetting or night wetting.

What are the treatments for urinary incontinence?

While Enuresis may seem concerning, it often sorts itself out. But if you’re concerned your child is reverting back from being toilet trained, or if the issue continues as they age, there are treatments for urinary incontinence. Treatments that may start to see a resolution can be simple enough: decreasing the amount of caffeine your child intakes, making sure they’re drinking enough liquids so they’re not constipated, and encouraging your child to go to the toilet often enough so they’re not trying to hold in their urine for too long.

If those don’t work, there are bedwetting alarms7 that are often the first treatment doctors recommend. These alarms, which can either go under your child as they sleep or in their pajama pants, sound when wet. This lets your child know that they’ve wet the bed and helps them realize when they need to wee. Medication is also an option though of course should be discussed and prescribed by your child’s pediatrician.

wetting pants, toilet training
There are several reasons that may cause Enuresis; some which may include: overactive bladder, not being able to wake up easily at night, hormone imbalance, recurrent UTIs, sleep apnea, stress incontinence, diabetes, bladder instability, constipation, or problems with their neurological or urinary systems.

Should a child see a doctor for urinary incontinence?

There are times when a child may need to see a doctor for help to treat daytime wetting or night wetting. If your child has continuous dribble, was staying dry but is now wet, may possibly have a UTI, or if the amount of urine your child is producing seems to be an abnormal amount, professional help may be necessary8. A medical professional may need to do a physical examination and talk to you about their toilet habits, wetting habits and bowel habits.

Summary

Kids wetting their pants can seem like a large hurdle that both child and parent must overcome. Toilet training itself can be a struggle and urinary incontinence can seem like a setback. But remembering that bedwetting is common throughout the young years of a child’s life can be a positive outlook. If your child is below the age of five, you may be sweating the small stuff.

If your child is 6 or 7 and still struggling, know that there are solutions available. Enuresis is a problem that can affect a child’s daily life but oftentimes it occurs at night. This is a silver lining for your child being able to do normal daily activities and have a thriving social life. Daytime urinary incontinence or bedwetting can feel shameful and embarrassing, but it’s just another part of a child learning about their body and how to control it as they age. The best thing you can do for your child in this situation is to encourage and support them as they overcome this milestone.

You might also be interested in my articles on:

Risky Play In Early Childhood; Why Is It So Important?

Bucket Filling; What Is It And Why Is It So Important?

Triple P Parenting Program; What’s It All About?

Controlled Crying – How Does It Work, And Is It Harmful?

9 Mistakes I’ve Made As A Single Parent

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Reference List:

  1. Toilet training, Pregnancy,Birth&Baby. Accessed online at https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/toilet-training on June 28, 2023.
  2. What is the best age to toilet train?, Bounty Parents. Published: 24 Feb, 2020. Accessed online at https://www.bountyparents.com.au/expert-advice/toilet-training-right-age/ on June 28, 2023.
  3. Bedwetting in Childhood, Continence Foundation of Australia. Accessed online at https://www.continence.org.au/information-incontinence-english/bedwetting-in-childhood on June 28, 2023.
  4. Bed Wetting, Mayo Clinic. Accessed online at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bed-wetting/symptoms-causes/syc-20366685 on June 28, 2023.
  5. Urinary Incontinence – Daytime wetting, RCH.org.au. Accessed online at https://www.rch.org.au/clinicalguide/guideline_index/Urinary_Incontinence_-_Daytime_wetting/ on June 28, 2023.
  6. Urinary incontinence, Health Direct. Accessed online at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/urinary-incontinence on June 28, 2023.
  7. Bedwetting, RaisingChildren. Accessed online at https://raisingchildren.net.au/preschoolers/sleep/night-time-problems/bedwetting on June 28, 2023.
  8. Daytime wetting, SCHN. Accessed online at https://www.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/fact-sheets/daytime-wetting on June 28, 2023.

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