Incontinence Home > Incontinence in Children

Infrequent Voiding
Infrequent voiding refers to a child's voluntarily holding urine for prolonged intervals. For example, a child may not want to use the toilets at school, or may not want to interrupt enjoyable activities, so he or she ignores the body's signal of a full bladder. In these cases, the bladder can overfill and leak urine. Additionally, these children often develop urinary tract infections (UTIs), leading to an irritable or overactive bladder.
Other Causes
Some of the same factors that contribute to nighttime incontinence may act together with infrequent voiding, to produce daytime incontinence. These factors include:
  • Small bladder capacity
  • Structural problems
  • Anxiety-causing events
  • Pressure from a hard bowel movement (constipation)
  • Increased urine output, and spasms of the bladder muscles, due to food or drinks that contain caffeine, or other ingredients to which the child may have an allergic reaction, such as:


    • Chocolate
    • Artificial coloring.


Sometimes overly strenuous toilet training may make the child unable to relax the sphincter and the pelvic floor, to completely empty the bladder. Retaining urine (incomplete emptying) sets the stage for urinary tract infections.

Treatment for Incontinence in Children

Many children overcome incontinence naturally (without treatment) as they grow older. The number of cases of incontinence goes down by 15 percent for each year, after the age of 5.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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