A mother and child talking in the morning with an alarm clock in the foreground.

How Common is Bedwetting?

When asking how common bedwetting is, what most of us want to know is if what we’re experiencing with our child, or possibly ourselves, is normal. How many other people are dealing with a bedwetting 6 year old, or 8 year old, or 12 year old?

Bedwetting, also known as nocturnal enuresis, is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by the involuntary release of urine during sleep, and it can occur in both children and adults.

In truth, everyone starts out life wetting the bed involuntarily. Our physical development at birth does not include control of the bladder. That comes later. But how much later? How common is bedwetting at 5 years old, 7 years old, adolescence, and beyond?

While bedwetting is often associated with younger children, it can persist into adolescence and adulthood, but at what rate?

Prevalence of Bedwetting

Bedwetting is considered normal for all children under the age of 5. Most consider it normal for children 7 and under. As mentioned, everyone comes into the world wetting the bed. It takes time for the human body and mind to develop control over so many organs and body parts, including the bowels and bladder.

By 5 years old, 15-20% of children still wet the bed. Of those children, 15% of them will stop wetting the bed by 6, and 15% of those who wet the bed at 6 will stop wetting the bed by 7.

The number of children wetting the bed steadily decreases in this manner until by late adolescence, an estimated 2-3% of children are still wetting the bed. This number does not change into adulthood.

Simply put, by 5 years old, 15-20% of children wet the bed. By adulthood, 2-3% are still wetting the bed.

Bedwetting is a complex issue. However, no matter what the statistics say about your child or you, it is possible for children and adults to get and stay dry at night.

Two of my eight children struggled with bedwetting well after 7 years old. Check out My Bedwetting Victory to read about the method I designed help them stop bedwetting.

Gender Differences in Bedwetting

Statistics show that boys are more likely to wet the bed than girls. How much more likely? 2-3 times. That means that for every girl who struggles with bedwetting, 2-3 boys struggle with the same.

Indeed, in my household, none of my girls struggled with bedwetting. A couple of them had a hard time with nighttime dryness later than others, but none of them after 7 years old. Meanwhile, I had two boys who really struggled.

The exact reason for the gender difference is not fully understood, but it may be due to differences in bladder capacity, hormone levels, or genetics.

Factors Influencing Bedwetting

There are a multitude of reasons that children and adults wet the bed. It may be as concrete as a diagnosed medical condition, but more likely, there are a number of factors at play.

There are several factors that can influence bedwetting, including genetic, developmental, psychological, behavioral, and medical conditions.

I cover a few of these briefly here. For a more thorough understanding, see my article, Why Do Kids Wet the Bed?

Genetic Factors

Some studies suggest that bedwetting can run in families, indicating a genetic predisposition to the condition. Children with parents who experienced bedwetting as children are more likely to wet the bed themselves. However, the exact genes that contribute to this tendency are not yet fully understood.

Developmental Factors

Bedwetting is more common in younger children who have not yet fully developed their bladder control. As children grow older, their bladder capacity increases, and they learn to control their urges to urinate. In addition, the natural body clock, or Circadian rhythms take time to develop, which could also affect timing of urination.

Just as some children take longer to develop the brain capacity to learn to read, some children take longer for physical development, leading to bedwetting.

Psychological Factors

Stress and anxiety can also play a role in bedwetting. Children who are experiencing stress at home or school may be more likely to wet the bed. Additionally, sleep disorders may contribute to bedwetting.

Behavioral Factors

Behavioral reasons for bedwetting can include the simple of being afraid of the dark to the more complex attention seeking.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can also contribute to bedwetting. For example, urinary tract infections, constipation, and diabetes can all increase the risk of bedwetting. In some cases, bedwetting may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition that requires treatment.

Conclusion

Bedwetting is a fairly common problem. Up to 20% of 5 year olds wet the bed. That number slowly decreases until 2-3% of older adolescents and adults wet the bed. That’s roughly 252,000-378,000 16-18 year olds.

Nonetheless, bedwetting often gets overlooked or ignored because of social stigma or the assumption that the child will grow out of it.

Certainly, most children will outgrow it. But not all.

Bedwetting can be a source of embarrassment and shame, and it can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. It can lead to social isolation, low self-esteem, and even depression.

If a child is over 5 and bedwetting is causing significant stress, or a child is over 7, then professionals agree that he or she needs some help to end it.

While bedwetting is common, it is also something that can be overcome.

Check out My Bedwetting Victory which tells you my story and teaches the exact positive, effective method that I used with my two sons to help them stop bedwetting. Anyone can do it.