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Bed-wetting Alarms

Although many young children wet their beds, most stop by the time they are 4 or 5 years old.  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. One study found that children who use the alarms are 13 times likelier to become dry as those who don't, but the relapse rate after treatment ranges can be as high as 69%.

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 four to six 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.

Once your child stays dry through the night for three weeks, you should continue using the alarm for another two weeks and then stop. If your child starts to wet the bed again, you can repeat the process; however, relapses after alarm therapy are uncommon.

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, but if your doctor recommends one, the cost may be covered by insurance.

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.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on September 23, 2012

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