We know: All About Bed Wetting Alarms

What's a bed wetting alarm?

Bed wetting alarms are devices that can be attached to your child's pajamas and which make a sound when they sense moisture. This enables the child to wake up and go to the bathroom before wetting the bed.

The alarms tend to work best for children who already have some bladder control and are getting through some nights without wetting.

How common is bed wetting?

Wetting the bed at night is called enuresis and most doctors consider it normal among preschoolers. Children tend to wet the bed because their bladders have not developed enough to hold urine all night, or they are unable to recognize their bladder is full and wake to go to the bathroom.

By age six, one in ten boys still wet the bed. Most children eventually outgrow the problem.

Do doctors approve of bed wetting alarms?

Many do, yes. And there are studies that show these alarms do help children learn to stop wetting the bed.

How do bed wetting alarms work?

There are several kinds on the market currently. All of them basically have wetness or moisture sensors that attach to the child's underwear. When moisture contacts the sensors, an alarm wakes the child to go to the toilet. Most are battery operated.

Here are some different features:

  • Sound vs. Vibrating Alarms: Some alarms use alert the child with a sound, often with volume control, that can be turned up if the child is a deep sleeper. Others use vibration, so that other people in the house are not awakened. Some offer both.
  • Wire vs. Wireless: On most systems, the sensors attach to the underwear of the child, then a wire runs up through to the pajama neckline where the alarm is attached so it is near the child's ear. Wireless systems do not use wires. Vibrating alarms do not have to be attached near the ear.

What should I know before I buy an alarm?

The National Kidney Foundation suggests you consider the following:

  • Comfortable when attached to child
  • Easy to set up
  • Sensitive to a small quantity of urine but not to perspiration
  • Reliable operation
  • Durable if dropped on floor
  • Easy to clean/disinfect on daily basis
  • Cost less than about $100.00
  • Money back guarantee for technical problems
  • Won't fall off when children toss and turn
  • Wires long enough for older children
  • Batteries available
  • Ability to vary loudness of alarm
  • Ability to set device to a vibrate rather than noise alarm
  • Additional remote sensor for parents
  • Wireless system with bed mat to avoid tangled wires
  • Clips that connect firmly

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