George Krucik, MD, MBA
The normal urinary frequency in children varies widely. Your child’s diet, activity level, environment and age affect urinary frequency. Daily urinary frequency typically decreases with age as a child's bladder grows. Infants should have at least 4 to 6 wet diapers daily but typically urinate small amounts every hour, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. By age 3, most children urinate around a dozen times per day. Adult bladder size is reached around the time of puberty, and urinary frequency is typically 4 to 6 times daily, on average. Discuss any change in your child’s urinary frequency with your pediatrician.
Increased Urine Frequency
Increased urinary frequency can be a symptom of an infection, injury or bladder irritation. According to the National Institute of Health, urinary tract infections affect about 3 percent of children in the United States each year. An increase could also be related to a change in the muscles, nerves or tissues affecting bladder function. When paired with large urine volume, increased frequency may be a symptom of diabetes or another hormone disorder. Certain drugs and beverages can increase urinary frequency. Preschool and elementary school children might experience a condition called daily urinary frequency syndrome, in which they feel the urge to urinate as often as every 10 minutes in very small volumes. While this condition does not threaten the child's health, it should be discussed with the child's doctor.
Decreased Urine Frequency
The most common cause of decreased urinary frequency in children is dehydration. This often occurs with illnesses that cause vomiting, diarrhea and/or fever. It can also occur with heat exhaustion. The good way to monitor a child's hydration is by the urine color. Urine that is dark yellow or amber color usually signals dehydration. Other common causes of decreased urinary frequency include certain medications and blockage of the urinary tract. Less common causes include blood loss, severe infections leading to shock and poor kidney function.
Warnings and Precautions
While many changes in your child's normal urinary frequency are harmless, it is important to discuss any changes or concerns with your doctor. Pain or bleeding with urination should always be addressed right away, as they could indicate an infection that needs treatment. If your child is experiencing decreased urinary frequency with severe diarrhea and/or vomiting or is unable to keep fluids down, see your doctor right away to avoid severe dehydration.
- HealthyChildren.org: Baby's First Days: Bowel Movements & Urination
- Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: Urinary Frequency
- Pediatric Nursing: The Critical Components of Nursing Care; Kathryn Rudd and Diane Kocisko
- UCSF Pediatric Urology: Day Time Wetting
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseses: Urinary Tract Infections in Children
- American Urological Association: Pediatric Urinary Incontinence and Voiding Dysfunction
- Adult and Pediatric Urology, Fourth Edition; Jay Y. Gillenwater et al.
- Pediatric Nephrology, Fifth Edition; Ellis D. Avner et al.