Updated May 14, 2018
If your child has been wetting the bed at night and you are looking for a solution, one of the most effective ways to help solve this problem is to buy a bedwetting alarm (also known as an enuresis alarm). These devices help children by using behavioral treatment (your child starts to wet the bed, the alarm sounds, either the parent wakes the child up or the child wakes on their own and empties their bladder into a toilet). This is a relatively inexpensive treatment that generally has a high success rate, although it does take a lot of patience and work for the parent or guardian who is helping the child with this common condition.
On this page
- What you need to know before buying
- Learn about bedwetting alarm styles
- Find out about the features to look for
- Bedwetting alarm reviews
When is it time to get a bedwetting alarm?
Nighttime bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) can be very stressful and embarrassing for both children and parents or caregivers. It affects roughly a quarter of children past the age of 5, then as children get older the percentage drops steadily. Unfortunately 1 to 2 % of kids still have trouble with this condition until the age of 15.
If your child is wetting the bed at night and this is becoming an issue for the child, you can discuss your options with your doctor. In most cases they will likely recommend initially limiting liquids before 2 hours before bed, and eliminating caffeine from their diets. If the child continues to wet the bed, the next step could be trying a bedwetting alarm. It is difficult for a child to learn to hold their urine for an extended period of time, especially if they are a deep sleeper, so they should never be scolded or punished for something that they are unable to control. Bedwetting devices can help children learn how to wake up on their own when they feel that their bladder is full.
There is no set age when a child needs to stop wetting the bed, and it is best not to put too much pressure on them when trying to help with this condition. However, if the child is embarrassed when sleeping over at friends’ houses or you are tired of spending a small fortune on pull ups, then it is probably time to try out a bedwetting alarm. These types of devices tend to require the most commitment by the caregiver to make sure that the product is being used in a way that will lead to success for the child. It is generally not a quick process, a lot of customers find that they don’t find success until the 6 to 8 week mark of using these types of devices.
Some customers find that a particular system doesn’t work for their child, so they try a different style or brand. If you aren’t successful with one product, you may decide that the child may not be physically ready to stay dry and they stop and try again after a few months.
Features to consider
The price of these types of systems can range from around $40 to $300 for a full system. You can get slightly cheaper or much more expensive models, but most of the most popular and well-reviewed products fall within the above price range. You can get an effective product without having to spend too much.
The most important feature that you should be thinking about when you are looking for one of these devices is whether it will be comfortable for your child to wear. If your child sleeps on their stomach, they may not want to have something attached to their underwear or some children may object to having the units attached to their shoulder, so you should look at the wireless models.
The three main styles are wearable (sensor in the underwear, alarm attached to the shoulder), wireless (sensor attached to the underwear, alarm in a remote unit placed beside the bed), and pad (sensor placed in a mat that the user sleeps on, alarm connected to the pad with wire and placed beside the bed).
The loudness of the alarm should also be a factor if you are looking for a child who is a deep sleeper. A lot of the alarms have a .dB level of around 80- 85 .dB, which is very loud. Most manufactures don’t list the .dB levels, but if you are interested in a particular model you can write to the manufacturer to check loudness.
Many of the newer models are using wireless technology; this is generally the most comfortable for the users, as they don’t have to be attached to any wires so it is easy to move around.
If you looking for a product for a deep sleeper ensure that you get one that includes both an audible tone and a vibrating sensor. Having the device vibrate will help ensure that the user awakens.
These devices generally all come with some kind of reward system, it is important that you use these systems to help ensure success with the program.
What Parents Need to Know Before Buying
The alarm is actually only a small part of the solution to help with nocturnal enuresis, the main responsibility is with the parent, guardian or caregiver who has to supervise the child and get them out of bed when the alarm sounds. It takes a lot of
How to use a bedwetting alarm
Finding success with these types of products can be a long process, so give yourself lots of time, don’t start a few days before a planned sleepover.
The way these devices work is that there is a wetness sensor in the underwear that is attached to a device, when the sensor gets wet the alarm will sound and wake the child so they can get up and urinate in the toilet. With continued use of the device your child’s brain will slowly be trained to wake up when there is the first drops of liquid hitting the sensor and they will be able to stop the flow of urine. This sounds simple enough, but it takes an incredible amount of time and effort on the part of the caregiver to ensure that the child is getting up each time it goes off, this training can take up to two months, so that can be a lot of interrupted sleep.
Enuresis alarms can range in price from about $40 to more than $300, which seems like a lot of money to pay. However if you have been using pull ups and doing lots of load of laundry, you can factor that into the cost. You may discover that you end up ahead using the enuresis devices over other methods.
If the alarm has been recommended by a doctor, some insurance plans may cover the cost of the device.
You can buy these type of products at medical supply stores, drug stores and online. You may have to try a couple of different brands before you find what works for your child. Make sure you are aware of the return policy of where you are buying from, since you really don’t know what will work for your family until you test it out.
There are three main types of alarms, although they generally work on the same principle. There is a sensor that detects moisture either in the underwear or in the pad and an alarm is triggered waking the child.
The most popular type is a wearable style. This just means that the sensor connects with a wire to the main device that is generally attached to the child’s shoulder. It is placed near the ear, so that it is more likely to awaken the child. Wearable options often also have a vibrating option that helps the user to awaken.
You can also get wireless styles where the sensor is connected to an unit wirelessly, allowing users to place the main unit across the room so that the wearer must get out of bed to turn the alarm off. These wireless device also allow an alarm to be sounded in the caregivers room.
Another style is a pad design. This style doesn’t attach to the child at all, rather the sensor is in the pad that the child is sleeping on. The main unit is usually connected to the pad with a wire and when the sensor detects moisture a separate bedside alarm sounds.
Seven Steps to Nighttime Dryness: A Practical Guide for Parents of Children with Bedwetting by Renee Mercer
Waking Up Dry by Howard Bennett
Prince Bravery & Grace: Attack of the Wet Knights by Gail Ann Gross and Lynn Gorham