If your child has been dry at night for a consecutive period of more than six months and they begin wetting the bed again, it could be down to a urinary tract infection (UTI).

UTIs can result in the frequent need to urinate, even if the bladder is not full, and they can cause bedwetting in young children. In relation to bedwetting, UTIs is predominantly associated with secondary nocturnal  enuresis (previously dry, but has started bedwetting again), as opposed to primary nocturnal enuresis (has always wet the bed).

Urinary tract infections are generally not serious – most can be treated with a course of antibiotics.


There are a number of telltale signs if you suspect your child is suffering from a UTI. The best way to confirm is by taking them straight to your GP for a urine test, but you can also take note of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or a burning sensation during urination
  • Frequent and urgent need to urinate, even if nothing comes out
  • Urine has a foul smell
  • Urine is cloudy
  • Blood in urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Pressure in lower pelvis
  • Fever
  • Bedwetting (if the child was previously dry)

Note that the child doesn’t need to be experiencing all of these symptoms to have a UTI.


The urinary tract is comprised of the bladder, kidneys, and urethra. The specific type of UTI contracted will depend on where the infection is focused.

  • Cystitis: Infection of the bladder
  • Pyelonephritis: Infection of the kidneys
  • Urethritis: Infection of the urethra

Cystitis and urethritis are known as lower UTIs, while pyelonephritis is classified as an upper UTI. Upper UTIs have the potential to cause more serious kidney problems, however, the risk is low, especially if treated early.


Most UTIs in children are caused by bacteria entering the urethra. This is particularly more common in girls, as their urethras are shorter and more exposed to bacteria from the rectum. Infection can occur when soiled toilet paper makes contact with genitals.

Other causes of UTIs in children are dehydration, constipation, or any obstruction to the usual flow of urine. In sexually active people, UTIs can occur when bacteria are passed on during sexual intercourse.


Treatment of UTIs in most cases is simply a course of antibiotics. Sufferers should feel their symptoms ease within the day of commencement. In the meantime, many people find relief in drinking plenty of water, which can help the flow of bacteria out of the urinary tract. Effervescent powder sachets, such as Ural, are also popular for easing discomfort.

Antibiotics courses for lower UTIs are usually fairly short (3 to 5 days), as opposed to upper UTIs (7 to 10 days).


After dealing with a UTI, it’s understandable if you never want your child to experience it again. There are no guarantees, but there are a few things you can do to avoid UTIs in the future.

  • Encourage girls to wipe front to back when using the bathroom
  • Encourage boys to clean the area around their foreskin regularly
  • Ensure your child is drinking plenty of water and not becoming dehydrated
  • Take note of your child’s bowel movements and address constipation if it occurs
  • Buy comfortable, cotton underwear for your child, instead of tight-fitting underwear made of synthetic materials.