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Bedwetting Alarms for Children

Bedwetting alarms attached onto a boy's pajama top


Clinical Effectiveness of Bedwetting Alarms

Many parents with children who suffer from bedwetting or primary nocturnal enuresis are often told that there child will eventually outgrow bedwetting, and that’s true for many children. Even statistics show that “up to 2% of adults” have bedwetting. However, bedwetting is not accidental and often impacts a child’s social life and self-esteem. If your child is 6 or 7 and still wets the bed couple times in a week, you should speak to your child’s pediatrician about possible treatment options. Bedwetting alarms are proven to be clinically effective to stop bedwetting.

Bedwetting alarms are one of the safest treatment options and have been around for many years. According to American Family Physician “The concept of using an alarm that emits a sound when a child wets the bed was first introduced in 1938. The bed-wetting alarm has been shown to be the most effective treatment for nocturnal enuresis. Compared with other skill-based or pharmacologic treatments, the bed-wetting alarm has a higher success rate (75 percent) and a lower relapse rate (41 percent).”

Bedwetting alarms use behavioral conditioning for treating bedwetting. The goal of bedwetting alarms is to train the bedwetting child’s brain to wake up when the alarm goes off and finish urinate in the toilet. The child gradually learns to wake up before the alarm goes off, and stay dry throughout the night.

There are many types of alarms-wired, wireless and bell and pad. Each type of alarm uses a moisture sensitive sensor to detect urine immediately, trigger the alarm, and alert the child to wake up and finish urinating in the toilet. Children usually start to wake up to alarm within 4 to 6 weeks, and within 12 to 14 weeks the child will start waking up on his or her own or holding the urine through the night.

Bedwetting alarms require commitment and patience from the child and parents to be successful. Typically, bedwetting alarms take up to 2-3 months to stop bedwetting, and unlike medicines, bedwetting alarms don’t have any major side effects.

Medicines are mistakenly believed to treat bedwetting permanently. If your child is on medicines he or she is likely to experience a relapse once the medicine is stopped. Of course there can be a relapse with the treatment through bedwetting alarms, but generally, the relapse rate is much lesser when compared to medicines. It is advisable to use a bedwetting alarm with sound, vibration, and multiple alert tones such as the Chummie bedwetting alarm, for daily use. While you can let your child take medicines occasionally for sleepovers, camps or travel. Web MD reports, “Bedwetting medications may help in a social situation such as sleepovers but are usually a last resort, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. They are not recommended for children younger than 5 years old.”


Comparing Different Types of Bedwetting Alarms

Bed wetting alarms come in several styles and vary in price depending on the features they offer. The basic premise of using a bed wetting alarm is to train the bed wetting child’s brain to wake up and use the bathroom before the alarm goes off. In 1938, the idea of using an alarm emanating sound when a child wets his or her bed was introduced for the first time. Since then alarm systems have evolved immensely. Most modern day alarms such as the Chummie Premium Bedwetting Alarm are equipped with sound, light, vibrations, and a moisture sensitive sensor such as the silicon IntelliFlex sensor that can detect urine from the very first drop, and activate the alarm to wake up the child.

Today, bed wetting alarms can be categorized into wearable and bed side alarms. Each type of a bed wetting alarm uses a moisture sensitive sensor to detect urine and wake up the child.

There are two kinds of body worn bed wetting alarms; wired and wireless alarms. In wired bed wetting alarm the moisture sensitive sensor is connected to an audio-vibratory alarm unit through a wire to the child’s underwear. The wire usually runs through the child’s pajama top or it is clipped to the top near the shoulder.

Wired bed wetting alarms offer features such as vibrations, flashing lights and multiple alert tones that prevent auditory accommodation. Some alarms even come equipped with discreet vibration mode that provides privacy to the wearer as only he or she is aware when the alarm goes off. Wired bed wetting alarms also offer an effective treatment solution to the special needs kids such as children with hearing problems as well.

Wireless bed wetting alarms don’t use the external sensor such as clip sensors or silicon sensor like the IntelliFlex sensor that comes with Chummie Premium and Chummie Elite. Instead, wireless bed wetting alarms utilizes a micro-wire, which is built into machine-washable underwear, and a tiny transmitter that connects to the pants. Since the alarm doesn’t vibrate, only sound and/or lights alert the wearer when bed wetting occurs.

The bed side alarms usually comprise of bell and pad bed wetting alarms. This type of a bed wetting alarm doesn’t need the alarm unit to be connected to the wearer. The bed wetting child or adult sleeps on a moisture sensitive mat or pad that is placed under the top sheet, and is connected to the alarm unit kept on the bed side. These bed wetting alarms offer greatest comfort and convenience, and work great for children who are uncomfortable about having wired attached to their bodies. However, this type of a bed wetting alarm does take a little longer to detect urine.

How to Prepare for Using a Bedwetting Alarm

Most children can achieve bladder control by 5. However, if your child is still struggling to be dry at age 6 or 7, speak to your doctor about possible treatment options. The safest and most effective treatment option available is the bedwetting alarms. If you buy a bedwetting alarm here’s what you can do to prepare your child about using the alarm.

  •  Reiterate the purpose of bedwetting alarms. Tell your child that bedwetting alarms aim to help him or her overcome bedwetting by waking up him or her up at the very first drop of the urine. Reinforce to your child that the alarm will only be successful if he or she quickly wakes and responds to it.
  • Show your child how the alarm unit works. Explain where the batteries go, how the sensor works, and how the alarm unit is connected to his or her body, and let your child program the alarm unit.
  • Modern day bedwetting alarms are moisture sensitive. So, let your child trigger the alarm by touching the sensor with wet fingers. Once the alarm triggers tell your child to use the restroom. Practice a few times.
  • Teach how to re-arm the alarm. Show your child how to switch off the alarm and reprogram it after changing into fresh clothes, and either replacing the soiled bed sheet or placing a dry pad or towel on the wet area, before returning to sleep.
  • Create Self-Waking Up Exercises. Try out a few self-waking exercises before starting the treatment. Set a timer during the day and tell your child to beat the timer, that is, they must urinate before the timer goes off. Let your child perform the same exercise at bedtime. It will help him or her understand how to respond to an alarm.
  • Light Up the Dark Places. Children are often scared of dark places and might feel discouraged to use the toilet if it’s not well-lit. So, provide your child with a flashlight or place night lights in hallways, bathrooms and bedroom.


Key Features of Bedwetting Alarm Systems

With so many bedwetting alarm systems out there, it is difficult to pick out the right bedwetting alarm system. Here is a quick checklist with key features that you should consider before investing in a bedwetting alarm system.

  • Study the Sensor: One of the most important features of a bedwetting alarm system is the sensor. Ensure the senor has a large urine detection area such as the IntelliFlex sensor, and can detect urine from the very first drop, is soft, sturdy and easy to clean. Consider the sensor’s material as often children are allergic or sensitive to sensors that rely on a metal clip in order to trigger an alarm.
  • Examine the Alarm’s Dependability: A bedwetting alarm system should only respond to urine, and not sweat. Many times sensors falsely react to sweat and cause the alarm to trigger. A false alarm is not only disturbing, but may not be able to stop bedwetting.
  • Essential Alarm Features: A bedwetting alarm system must offer sound, vibration, and a variety of alert tones. Variety of alert tones helps to avoid auditory accommodation (child getting used to one sound), and may work better for deep sleepers who may not respond to single tones alarm. However, the alarm sounds should be loud, but not jarring as it can cause auditory damage.
  • Check out the Sensor Attachment: Sensor attachment is as important as the sensor itself. The sensor attachment should steadily hold on the senor to the child’s underwear. Often, bedwetting alarms with the metal snap attachments are uncomfortable, and may not stay long if your child is a restless sleeper.
  • Get an Easy to Program Alarm Unit: An alarm unit should be simple to use so that your child can program it independently. Check out how simple it is program the Chummie Premium Bedwetting Alarm.
  • Cleaning and Maintaining Alarm Unit: For a sensor to function properly, it must be cleaned properly. So, choose an alarm unit with an easy to clean sensor such as the silicon IntelliFlex sensor that can be cleaned with warm water.
  • Bedwetting Alarm Batteries: Often batteries are the hidden cost of a product, but usually most bedwetting alarms include batteries, and use common batteries, should a need for additional batteries arise in future.
  • Warranty and Support: When buying an alarm make sure that the alarm provider offers a reliable support system and genuine warranty policy.
  • Evaluate the Cost: There are many bedwetting alarms out there. When evaluating the cost of the bedwetting alarm consider the above factors. Also, be mindful of other factors such as age or any sensitivity such as allergies to metal. When evaluating the cost also keep in mind that the cheaper product is not always the best options. Alarms that are priced higher often offer extra features that can help you in dealing with bedwetting.


Bedwetting Alarm: What to Expect

Many studies show that bedwetting alarms are the most efficient treatment options for stopping bedwetting or enuresis. According to Web MD, “Bed-wetting alarms are among the most effective and safest bed-wetting treatments. Studies show alarm therapy is often successful with children over age 7.” However, bedwetting alarms don’t work like a magic wand. If you are planning to or have recently bought bedwetting alarm, here is what you can expect.

  • Your child will learn to respond to the bedwetting alarm and probably go dry in few weeks. However, for first few nights you will have to wake your child and send him or her to restroom to finish urinating.
  • Typically, you will have to use the alarms until your child has had 14 dry nights since the treatment started.
  • As your child learns to respond to the bedwetting alarm, he or she might wet the bed. So, place washable or disposable waterproof overlays over the fitted sheet to control the damage, and keep fresh pair of clothes handy.
  • Sometimes the moisture sensitive sensor may not attach correctly or get loose, particularly if the child is a restless sleeper. In this case it may not be able to detect urine at all or may have a delayed reaction to wetness. So, make sure that your bed wetting alarm not only has strong sensor, but a sturdy and durable sensor attachment such as the Flexitape that holds IntelliFlex sensor.
  • Deep sleepers can get a skin rash for the failure of waking up to alarm and lying in their urine for too long. To prevent your child from developing a skin rash get a micro-processor controlled bed wetting alarm unit.
  • Although uncommon false alarms can occur due to sweat or low battery. If your child perspires a lot maintain a low temperature in your child’s room.
  • If you get a bedwetting alarm you will have to clean the sensor to have your alarm unit perform well. Unlike metal clip sensor that require cleaning with a tooth brush, newer technology silicon sensors can be cleaned with warm water and can be pat dry for immediate reuse.
  • Bedwetting alarm can disturb other family members or siblings. So, bring all family members on board before starting the treatment. It’s a good idea to buy a bed wetting alarm with volume control and discreet vibration mode to keep the disturbance to the minimum.

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