Although many young children wet their beds, most stop by the time they are 4 or 5. Bed-wetting that persists can lead to embarrassment and teasing by peers. If your child is 6 or 7 and still can’t stay dry through the night, you should consider speaking to a doctor about bed-wetting treatment. One treatment that helps many children is a bed-wetting alarm.
Bed-wetting Alarms and How They Work
Bed-wetting alarms are among the most effective and safest bed-wetting treatments. Studies show alarm therapy is often successful with children over age 7.
With bed-wetting alarms, a special moisture sensor placed in the child’s pajamas triggers a bell or buzzer to go off at the start of urination. The alarm is designed to awaken the child so he or she can get to the toilet and finish urinating. In the first few weeks of use, however, it is usually a parent who is awakened by the alarm and wakes the child to use the bathroom.
If the alarm is used nightly and the wake-up routine is continued, your child will likely begin to wake up to the alarm within 4 to 6 weeks. Within 12 weeks, your child will likely be getting up on his own to go to the bathroom or holding his urine until morning.
Types of Bed-wetting Alarms and Where to Get Them
Several different brands and varieties of bed-wetting alarms are available in drug stores or online. They range in price from about $50 to more than $150. You don’t need a prescription to get a bed-wetting alarm.
Although the basics of the alarms are the same — a sensor in the underwear or pajamas detects moisture and triggers an alarm — there are some slight differences among models.
In most models, a wire runs from the sensor to an audible alarm, which is attached with Velcro to the shoulder of the child’s pajamas. The alarm is loud enough to awaken the child and a parent, who can lead to the child to the bathroom and make sure he changes his underwear before going back to sleep.
Adolescents, however, may prefer a wireless bed-wetting alarm that vibrates when it senses moisture. Because it is wireless and silent, only the wearer is aware when the alarm goes off.
Although bed-wetting alarms require time to work, they are a highly effective bed-wetting treatment when children and parents are willing to make the commitment to using them consistently.
Be sure to check with your child’s doctor to determine if a bed-wetting alarm is the appropriate intervention for your child.
Parental Help is Essential to Success:
During the first week or two, parental help will be needed to teach your child to react to the alarm. At this time, it is common for your child to empty the bladder in bed and discover upon going to the bathroom that there is nothing left to urinate. During the next few weeks your child begins to stop the urination stream earlier and will finish urinating in the toilet.
Each success will result in smaller wet spots, which will shrink further with continued training. Soon thereafter, your child will begin to awaken when the urge is felt, anticipating the alarm. There will still be times when the alarm will sound, but the wet spot will be only on the underwear, leaving the bed dry.
After about three to six months, your child should have periods of uninterrupted dryness. There may still be occasional wet nights, so continue to use the alarm until your child has had one month of uninterrupted dryness, then stop using the alarm.
A relapse is when your child wets for two or more nights in a row after a month or more of dryness. If a relapse occurs,begin using the alarm again immediately. Relapses are easier to cure than the original bed-wetting. Since your child may have become unaccustomed to the alarm, parental help may be needed initially, as it was when the alarm was first introduced.
1- For at least one week, fully awaken your child one to two hours after he or she has fallen asleep, during the child ‘s period of deepest sleep.
2- Your child must be reminded each night to stop urinating at the first moment of awareness of the alarm sound, even if the sound is heard as part of a dream.
3- During the first few weeks, help your child to get up and finish urinating in the bathroom when the alarm sounds. Do not turn the alarm off for your child. Turn on the room lights and help your child to wake up. Applying very cold water or a cold wash cloth to your child ‘s face will usually awaken even the deepest sleeping child. Your child should be the one to stop the alarm for training to be most effective. In the morning, ask your child to recall what he/she did when the alarm went off.
4- Do not take your child for routine nighttime toilet trips except before bedtime or as directed by your physician. This will prevent the alarm from sounding, prevent training from occurring, and prevent your child from learning to awaken independently.
5- If the underwear is wet, your child should change into a dry pair and attach the sensor to the dry under wear before returning to bed. If the bed is wet, cover the wet spot with a pad or towel to prevent dampening of the fresh dry underwear.
6- An extra hour of sleep each night (earlier bedtime) or a regular afternoon nap will help your child to avoid excessive fatigue and to respond quickly to the alarm. Excessive fatigue will deepen your child ‘s sleep and cause your child to respond more slowly to the alarm.
7- Using a night-light also helps a deep-sleeping child to respond to the alarm. A 7-watt night-light in a child ‘s room will help most children awaken to the alarm. If there is special difficulty in waking to the alarm, turn on a small desk lamp (25 watts) in the room after the child has fallen asleep.
8- Praise your child whenever you observe any kind of progress; for example, waking to the alarm or reducing wet spot size. Profusely praise your child whenever he or she anticipates the alarm and awakens before it sounds. Have your child keep a success record on the monthly calendar sheets, which came with the Wet- Stop2. Silver stars are earned when there is a small wet spot, and gold stars when your child is dry all night.
9- Some children will have difficulty stopping the flow of urine even after waking up and may have a”dribbling” problem during the day. This indicates a weakness of the muscle which controls the flow of urine. This muscle can be strengthened by stopping the flow of urine in midstream a few times during each daytime urination. It is recommended that evening intake of foods and beverages containing caffeine (including chocolate and tea) be avoided.