Treatments

When you are ready to begin
By: Renee Mercer, MSN, CPNP

Treatments for bedwetting generally fall into two categories: supportive and curative. Supportive interventions “buy time” until children stop wetting on their own. These include waterproof pants and bedding, increased bathroom trips at night (“lifting”), restricting fluids, motivational techniques, and medications.

At the moment, bedwetting alarms are the only curative approach. According to a recent study, children who have used a bedwetting alarm not only become dry, but also have increased functional bladder capacity. While the exact mechanism of this is unknown, having the capacity to store more urine is highly beneficial.

Long-term effectiveness of bedwetting solutions

Supportive

% Children Dry One Year Later

Waiting 15%
Restricting Fluids 15%
Waking your child 15%
Using alarm clocks 15%
Medications* 15%

Curative

% Children Dry One Year Later

Bedwetting alarms 70-80% (1*)

*used 3-6 months

A bedwetting alarm is a treatment tool designed to teach your child to respond to a full bladder by waking unaided. Alarms come in several different styles: wearable alarms, wireless alarms, and pad-type alarms. While there is some variation in the styles of the alarms, they all function similarly. Each alarm has a moisture sensor component and an alarm component. When the child first begins to urinate, the sensor detects the moisture and sounds the alarm.

Wearable Alarms. With wearable alarms, the child wears the moisture sensor in or on their sleepwear. This type of sensor will detect moisture almost immediately. The sensor is attached to the alarm box with a cord that can be worn under the shirt. These are the best alarms for most children. Our most effective units are the Malem and Malem ULTIMATE brands.

Wearable Alarms Diagram

Wireless Alarms. A wireless alarm is one in which the sensor and the alarm unit communicate by means other than a wire. The transmitter which senses the moisture is directly attached to the child's underwear. The signal is transmitted wirelessly to a unit that is across the room from the child. Once the alarm unit is activated, it is necessary to get out of bed to turn it off.

This type of alarm is useful for children who prefer not to wear a shirt to bed or ones who find wearing an alarm with a cord to be difficult or uncomfortable. The Rodger Wireless alarm is our top-rated wireless model.

Wireless Alarms Diagram

Pad-type Alarms. Bell and pad alarms do not attach to the child in any way. The moisture sensor is in the form of a pad or mat that the child sleeps on top of. The pad detects moisture after urine has leaked onto it. The alarm unit is connected with a cord and usually sits on a bedside table. This alarm requires a larger amount of urine to be released before the sensor can detect it, and the child must be on the pad for it to sense moisture. This alarm may be preferable for the child who cannot stand having anything attached to their clothing. The Malem Bed-Side or the Wet-Call alarm are two popular models.

Pad-type Alarms Diagram

View a complete comparison chart of all our alarms. When choosing the right treatment for your child, it is helpful to individualize the alarm to your child's needs.


1.Cutting et al. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, March 2007:167-172.