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How do Enuresis Alarms help solve childrens bedwetting?

January 29, 2020 4 min read

Enuresis Alarms

Enuresis is a medical term for involuntary urination, particularly by children during sleep. So, Enuresis Alarm is another name for a kid’s Bedwetting Alarm.

‘Involuntary’ is the keyword here. Kids who wet the bed can’t help it. They are unaware of their full bladders during sleep, so the bladder just empties of its own accord. This is when an alarm can provide bedwetting help.

Why would I want an alarm to wake my child when they wet the bed…it’s already too late by then?

Lots of parents don’t ‘get’ what a bedwetting alarm is about and how it can be used to help with bedwetting, where the child is already potty-trained during the day.

A bedwetting alarm teaches a child to recognise the full-bladder signals during sleep through a well-recognised psychological principle called Classical Conditioning or Learning by Association. This is the learning that occurs when a neutral stimulus (e.g. the full-bladder signal) becomes associated with a stimulus (e.g. the sound of a loud alarm) that naturally produces a behaviour (waking up). After the association is learned, the previously neutral stimulus (the full-bladder signal) is sufficient to produce the behaviour (waking up). Bedwetting solved!

Do kids eventually grow out of their bedwetting?

Most children will grow out of their bedwetting habit but the longer it takes the more chance there is of the child suffering self-esteem or confidence issues. The statistics indicate that 50% of children who wet the bed at age 5 will still be wetting the bed at age 9. For this reason, many health professionals recommend alarm treatment, where this is appropriate.

Will a bedwetting alarm work for my child?

If your child has been dry during the day for at least 6 months and doesn’t suffer from constipation, UTIs, or other medical conditions including ADHD or ODD, then a bedwetting alarm may be the appropriate solution.

How long does it take for a bedwetting alarm to teach a child to wake up to go to the toilet?

Some children respond within a couple of weeks of alarm training but most take up to 3 months. Around 10% of children may take longer than this.

Getting involved with your child’s bedwetting training is the most effective way to ensure your child maximises their chances of success. Practising with your child what to do when the alarm goes off,  getting up in the night to ensure they are responding to the alarm, and supporting them on their journey is really important.

What are the different types of bedwetting alarms?

There are 3 main types of alarms:

  1. Body-worn alarms. The moisture sensor is attached to a cord that plugs into an alarm which the child wears. The cord is run under the pyjamas to go inside or clip to the outside of the underwear;
  2. Wireless alarms where the moisture sensor is either :
    1. attached to a transmitter worn on the waistband of the child’s underwear. The alarm box is placed on bedside furniture; or,
    2. is a transmitter and goes inside the underwear with no wire attachments and transmits directly to a bedside alarm (see DRI Sleeper eclipse).
  3. Bed pad alarms. The sensor is a bed pad which is placed under the top sheet of the bed and plugs into an alarm box which is attached to another part of the bed or placed on bedside furniture.

    What type of enuresis alarm would suit my child best?

    Understanding how your child sleeps is the first thing. Do they:

    1. Sleep on their back, side or front. If on their front, clip-on sensors and transmitters may be uncomfortable. If on their back, bed pads may not react quickly enough as it will take a while for the wee to reach the pad (especially in the case of boys);
    2. Toss and turn or remain calm. The plug-in sensors of body-worn alarms may be pulled out by  restless sleepers (or those who can’t be bothered getting up to go to the toilet and just want the noise to stop and go back to sleep!);
    3. Sleep heavily or lightly. Some deep sleepers may sleep through the sound of the alarm and parents will have to assist their child to respond by waking them. In these cases, a bedwetting alarm that has two alarm boxes (one for the child and one for the parents), so the parents can respond for the child are a good solution (the DRI Sleeper eclipse Special Package is one such alarm);

    Younger children are often happier to wear a body-worn alarm than older children or teenagers who may be embarrassed to be ‘seen’ with a bedwetting alarm. For this reason, a wireless alarm may be more discrete for them.

    If your child has sensitive skin make sure the alarm is designed so that no current passes through the sensor after the alarm has triggered as this can cause acidification of the urine which may result in nappy rash.

    If you or your child prefer to use pull-ups for mattress protection then you will need to choose an alarm where the sensor goes directly inside the underwear or pull-ups because sensors which clip to the outside of the underwear will not be effective with diapers as these are waterproof and no bedwetting will be detected! DRI Sleeper alarms have the advantage that all their sensors go directly inside the child’s underwear so they can be used with diapers and pull-ups.

    Where can I go to get reliable information about bedwetting and treatment?

    There are many authoritative sources on bedwetting and treatment. However, two books I would recommend which are down to earth and very readable for parents are:

    Bedwetting in Children and Young People- A Simple Guide for Parents 2nd edition by Dr C R Yemula

    ISBN 978-1-907851-11-7 published by Healthinsights4U

     It’s not your fault! Strategies for solving toilet training and bedwetting problems  by Joseph Barone M.D

    ISBN 978-0-8135-6692-5 published by Rutgers University Press