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Reasons for a Potty Trained Child to Start Wetting His Pants

author image Regan Hennessy
Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. She has produced content for various websites and graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.
Reasons for a Potty Trained Child to Start Wetting His Pants
If your potty-trained child starts having accidents, watch for other symptoms. Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Up to 4 percent of potty-trained children who are at least 4 years old experience daytime wetting accidents, according to data from “Oski’s Pediatrics.” If your child’s daytime accidents last for more than two days or occur in conjunction with any other symptoms, arrange a prompt appointment with her pediatrician to rule out potentially serious issues.


Girls typically potty train by age 2 1/2 and boys train by age 3, according to extension family life specialist Lesia Oesterreich, with the Iowa State University. Secondary diurnal enuresis is daytime urine leakage that occurs in a child who has been potty trained and has successfully stayed dry for minimally three months, notes Dr. Lane Robson, clinical associate professor at the University of South Carolina’s School of Medicine. This type of pediatric incontinence occurs less frequently than nocturnal bed wetting; it typically warrants a visit to the pediatrician since it could develop from a variety of serious causes.

Emotional Causes

Stress or anxiety could lead to accidents in children who previously learned to use the toilet successfully, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.org website. Being able to control the flow of urine requires an elaborate series of neural connections and muscle control that might not take place in a child who is distracted, bothered or frustrated. Possible causes of stress that occur commonly among young children include going to a new school, the arrival of a new sibling and drastic changes in living arrangements, such as moving.

Health Causes

Potential health-related causes of sudden wetting incidents in a potty-trained child could include urinary tract infections, diabetes and constipation. A urinary tract infection arises when bacteria irritate the urinary tract, potentially causing multiple symptoms, including more frequent voiding, sudden urges to urinate and the appearance of urine that is smelly, pink or cloudy. Diabetes occurs when your child’s body has problems metabolizing sugar and often results in more frequent urination; other signs your child might have diabetes include excessive thirst, excessive hunger, weight loss, exhaustion and irritability. In a child with constipation, the stool-filled bowels put pressure on the bladder, which often results in wetting problems.

Bladder Issues

Sometimes pants-wetting incidents in a potty-trained child result from an immature or overactive bladder. An immature bladder occurs when the brain and bladder muscles haven’t learned to communicate effectively and work together properly. A child with this developmental delay often suffers from both nighttime bedwetting and daytime wetting. In a child with overactive bladder, sudden, strong contractions of the bladder muscles cause an overwhelming urge to urinate, resulting in wetting accidents when the child can’t make it to the bathroom in time. These bladder muscle spasms could worsen in a child who consumes caffeine or foods that she’s allergic to, such as chocolate, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

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