A bedwetting (enuresis) alarm is a device that emits an auditory and/or tactile sensation in response to wetness. The alarm is attached to your child's underwear or pajamas in the area that one would expect the first drop of urine to be expelled. When your child wets, the alarm makes a loud noise to alert him or her that wetting is occurring. Your child hears or feels this and learns to get out of bed and empty their urine into the toilet. Gradually, your child learns to respond to the feeling of a full bladder by going to the bathroom before the alarm goes off. This is a type of behavioral conditioning.
What features should I look for when buying an alarm?
Look at how the alarm is attached. Does it fasten to the child’s own underwear or come with specialized underwear? Some children like using their own briefs while others prefer having a built-in sensor so placement is never a problem. A pad type alarm is an option for those prefer to lie on the sensor rather than wear it on the underwear.
The way in which the alarm is turned off after it is triggered varies. A two step turn-off (removing the sensor from wetness and pushing a reset button) prevents accidentally pulling it off without being alerted. Wireless alarms require getting out of bed to turn the alarm unit off.
Sound comes from the unit on the shoulder in wearable alarms; it comes from across the room or bedside with the wireless or bedside alarm. Having the sound close to the ear is preferred by most users but some like the option of hearing the sound from a distant location.
Can the alarm sound and vibrate both? Many users find that vibration adds another sensory stimulation, increasing the response. The vibration from the wearable alarms would be similar to a gentle shaking of the shoulder.
The ability to change the volume varies with the different alarms. Wireless alarms have volume control; wearable alarms sound at the same decibel level each time moisture is sensed. In most situations, the loudest sound is necessary for the parent and child to respond
What will work for my child who is a very sound sleeper?
A common myth is that the bedwetting alarm is useless in children who are deep-sleepers. Initially, parents play an important part in arousing the sleeping child once the alarm has gone off. As long as the alarm is loud enough for parents to hear, you can provide backup if your child does not respond initially. The wearable alarms all sound at about 80 decibels, and make a variety of sounds. The wireless alarms with volume control can sound even louder.
Once a parent hears the alarm, they should quickly respond to their child. If the child is sitting up or moving in response to the noise, mom or dad can just remind them what to do next — go to the bathroom. If the child is still sleeping soundly, the parent may need to gently shake them, call their name, turn on the light or do whatever else it takes to arouse them.
Since bedwetting alarms are a mainstay in the treatment of bedwetting, it's an easy first step that most parents can take. No prescription is necessary and children over 6 years can learn to respond.