Choose the right alarm for your child
By: Renee Mercer, MSN, CPNP
A bedwetting (enuresis) alarm is a device that emits an auditory and/or tactile sensation in response to moisture. The alarm is attached to a child's underwear or pajamas in the area where the first drop of urine would be expelled. When the child wets, the alarm goes off and alerts those in range that wetting is occurring. The child hears or feels the alarm and learns to get out of bed and empty urine into the toilet. Gradually, the child learns to respond to the feeling of a full bladder by waking and going to the bathroom before the alarm goes off. Alarm training is a type of behavioral conditioning.
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Successfully using a bedwetting alarm to achieve dryness is a journey that can take several weeks. You'll have questions along the way. So make sure you're buying from a store that will help you throughout the journey. We have a team of certified Bedwetting Experts available via phone, chat or email, as well as a wide variety of resources to help you choose and use your alarm. Click here to learn more.
When deciding on a bedwetting alarm, look at how the alarm is placed. Does it fasten to any pair of underwear, or does it come with its own specialized underwear? Some children like using their own briefs while others prefer those with a built-in sensor, where placement is never a problem. A pad type alarm is an option for those who prefer to lie on the sensor rather than to wear it.
Methods of stopping the alarm after triggering can vary. Some alarms require a two-step turn-off in which the sensor is removed from wetness before the reset button is pressed. This design prevents an active sleeper from accidentally pulling off the sensor without being alerted. Wireless alarms require wearers to get out of bed to turn the alarm unit off, which works well for heavy sleepers.
Sound comes from a unit clipped to the shoulder in wearable alarms. In wireless and bedside alarms, it comes from a separate unit set away from the sleeper. Most users prefer to have the sound close to the ear, but some like the option of hearing the sound from a distance.
Wearable alarms can vibrate as well as sound off. The vibration from the wearable alarms would be similar to a gentle shaking of the shoulder. Many users find this adds extra sensory stimulation, increasing their response.
Different alarm types handle the issue of volume in different ways. Wireless alarms generally have manual volume control. Wearable alarms sound at the same volume every time. In most situations, the highest level is necessary for the parent and child to respond.
Many parents looking for solutions to their children’s bedwetting are quick to assume that alarms won’t work for children who sleep deeply. In fact, bedwetting alarms can be very effective for even the soundest of sleepers. For these children, the parents initially play an important part in rousing the sleeping child once the alarm has sounded. As long as the alarm is loud enough for parents to hear, they can provide backup if children do not respond initially. The wearable alarms all sound at 80 decibels, and make a variety of noises. Wireless alarms with volume control can sound even louder. You can listen to the different noises that the Malem alarms make by clicking on the sound icons on the product pages.
Once parents hear the alarm, they should respond quickly. If the child is sitting up or moving in response to the noise, parents simply need to assist the child in remembering what to do next — go to the bathroom. If the child is still sleeping soundly, parents may need to rouse the child themselves. If your bedroom is situated so you cannot hear your child's alarm, you might consider using a wireless alarm, such as Rodger or Malem Wireless, which can be ordered with an additional sound unit for the parent's room.
Bedwetting alarms are a mainstay in the treatment of bedwetting. They are an easy first step that most parents can take, as no prescription or physician supervision is necessary. Children over the age of six are usually ready to begin treatment.