The Nutrition Connection to Bedwetting

October 13, 2015


For many families nighttime starts with cozy bedtime stories and ends earlier than anyone would like with another bedwetting accident. Most parents recognize that a common final leg of potty training is staying dry throughout the night, but for many children that’s a big challenge. Recent statistics show 20 to 25 percent of children still wet the bed at the age of six. Along with the soggy sheets you’ll often find an embarrassed little kiddo whose self-esteem may suffer after years of bedwetting.

What causes bedwetting? While some theories point to a small bladder or deep sleeping, we tend to disagree. With over 25 years of clinical experience at Nutritional Weight & Wellness have found that there is often an underlying nutrition connection—and nutrition solution.

Brain problem

It’s difficult for many parents to make the connection that their family’s food choices may be affecting their child’s bladder control. We’re talking simple, and often mindless, food choices—the candy sucker you pick up in line at the bank or the M&M bowl in your kitchen—foods like these irritate the brain which is really where the bladder control comes from.

Bedwetting_SugaryCereal.jpgThe biggest food culprits for disrupting the brain are sugar, bread, bad fats and food dyes. Think of that. It’s a possibility that when your little bedwetter eats Froot Loops® in the morning (loaded with three of the worst culprits, sugar, bad fats and food dyes) he/she may have a problem in the middle of the night.

To better understand just how prevalent these brain disrupter foods are, look at sugar alone. It’s hidden, or in plain sight, in almost all foods and beverages marketed to children. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the average child under 12 consumes 49 pounds of sugar per year. Part of that 49 pounds is the sugar found in a typical child’s lunch—76 grams of carbs or 19 teaspoons of sugar. That’s almost the equivalent of four Twinkies!

The bottom line is that sugar, bread, bad fats and food dyes equals inflammation in the body. For some kids that inflammation creates brain stress and they may lose bladder control at night, others may have a hard time focusing in school or suffer from asthma attacks.

Digestive problem

Bedwetting_BoyHidingUnderBlanket.jpgThe 1978 book, Basics of Food Allergy, James C. Breneman, M.D. states that “Control of food allergy is effective in curbing bedwetting in four out of five patients…” At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we can attest, having seen many children in our counseling rooms who are constant bedwetters and also suffering from an undiagnosed food sensitivity. Gluten is typically the most prevalent source of nighttime incontinence for children. Sensitivity to dairy products, eggs and other items can also be the cause.

While it’s hard to ignore a symptom (even if you don’t know it’s a symptom of anything) like bedwetting, it’s very easy to miss other allergy indicators such as diarrhea and fatigue. Both can easily be attributed to other issues entirely. Similarly, a child can’t articulate that they feel a strange “brain fog,” so you may just think they’re tired when it’s really a reaction to gluten.

Here are two Dishing Up Nutrition podcasts on the topic; one on how to recognize a gluten sensitivity and another features ideas for dealing with food sensitivities.

Making changes

We recognize that it’s really hard work for parents to make these changes. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. We’ve found that children, especially the older ones still suffering from bedwetting, are truly motivated to change their eating habits if that means they can go over to a sleepover without fear of wetting their friends’ bed.

To get started, we’d recommend a meeting with a nutritionist to determine what foods are causing inflammation and what supplements could help their bodies heal. We can work together to get your family sleeping soundly, the whole night through.

For more information, listen to our Dishing Up Nutrition Podcast: Common Concerns for Kids: Focus, Asthma and Bedwetting


Rachel Duart
I am a pediatric nurse educator, asthma, diabetes, obesity and failure to thrive/lactation, postpartum issues. I personally believe in a link between nutrition and EVERYTHING! I am 56 and have never experienced a hot flash, I believe this is due to nutrition.
January 13, 2017 at 7:57 am

Laura For
My daughter was having an issue with bedwetting at 4. Then we noticed that she was breaking out in hives at the inside of her elbow when she ate certain foods. We had her allergy tested and when we took her off her allergic foods, she had no further problem starting from that day. We have a history of allergies and asthma.
November 8, 2018 at 9:36 am

It’s embarrassing to me I’m married I can’t drink 3’or 4 beers and I pee on the bed what do I do need help asap

November 12, 2018 at 8:14 pm


I am so sorry to hear you are struggling with incontinence. I would recommend avoiding caffeine, sugar, gluten and especially alcohol to avoid this embarrassing and uncomfortable result. If you are still having difficulty or need advice to implement these changes please make an appointment with one of our dietitians or nutritionists

Pam Doran
I am grateful that I found this site. My 12 year old son is still wetting his bed on average 2 tines a week. He has been having pain in his side that radiates to his mid back/shoulder blade area when he runs. This has been going on for about a year. We went to “pt” and I think he stopped complaining because he hated going. Also - when basketball started up - the running started and pain was more present. Went back to Peditrician and she thought upon exam his liver felt enlarged. Went for ultrasound - diagnose Fatty Liver. My son is very picky - big carb and very little veggie eater. We have altered diet - less carbs, increased fruit intake and really trying to eliminate processed foods. We go to see a Gastro Spec next week - it this bedwetting is still hanging out there - we are going to see a Nutritionist so I will mention this. He is a little overweight (not a lot) we are working in this too.
January 23, 2019 at 12:37 am


We are always glad to hear that our articles have been helpful. If you would like some more personalized guidance you can set up a one-on-one counseling appointment in-person if you live in the twin-cities or via skype or phone.

My son has been a chronic bed wetter and *finally* when he turned 13 (six months ago) he stopped. EXCEPT when he has too much candy, like on Halloween and Valentines Day (the only two times he’s wet in 6 months). Not sure if it’s the sugar or the artificial dyes...
February 20, 2019 at 1:21 pm


Due to the pattern of his candy consumption and bedwetting, I believe he is reacting to the artificial dyes. This is with the assumption he still consumes other foods higher in sugar; i.e. muffins, cookies, chips, bread, pasta, pancakes, waffles etc., or packaged goods. If so, then the remaining culprit would be the artificial dyes. For more help we'd encourage you to sign up for a phone or in-person nutrition consultation to get to the bottom of this. 

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