Using a bedwetting alarm does require a child to learn a new behavior – temporarily
Using a bedwetting alarm isn’t so much about the device itself.
It’s a training tool – it trains a child or teenager (and sometimes, adults) to be able to wake up during the night when the urge to urinate calls. This is a subconscious form of training and when the alarm is used consistently every night, bedwetting can be eliminated permanently. Often within a matter of weeks or a few months.
What about using diapers with an alarm – can that work?
A lot of parents want to try a bedwetting alarm, but wonder whether this can be done while your child is wearing pull up diapers.
The answer is: some bedwetting alarms will be more suited to using with a diaper but the alarm sensor will always have to be placed under the diaper. The diaper itself is simply too thick and absorbent to allow the sensor to detect moisture. By that time, it’s too late and your child would have fully expelled their bladder without the alarm being activated.
One strategy is to have regular underwear worn, with the sensor on top (keeping in mind each alarm is going to be slightly different in how the sensor is placed), then to help secure the sensor in place better throughout the night, a pull up diaper is worn on top.
But this still requires your child to wear regular underwear while using the bedwetting alarm.
And that leads me to the next point:
At the stage where a bedwetting alarm is recommended, which is age 5 and up, this is the time where most parents will be wanting to well and truly transition a child into regular underwear anyway. And ultimately the bedwetting alarm is part of the transitional process.
Understandably, it’s not easy to take away the security that your child would feel wearing pull ups.
But here’s a tip:
In place of that diaper barrier, invest in a waterproof bed mat or mattress overlay or two that you can swiftly remove and wash when needed. Some bedwetting alarms come with a bed mat as part of the sensor. They are usually quite small (which is one of the common complaints about that style of alarm system), and you can still place a separate mat underneath for extra mattress protection.
A good bedwetting alarm is sensitive enough to detect a very small amount of urine moisture. That’s whole idea – to activate the alarm immediately once (ideally) a drop is detected, rather than until your child is soaked through. Diapers of any material are going to completely block that out with the sensor on top (and you should not place the sensor inside a diaper).
In short: diapers should not be used with a bedwetting alarm besides as a top layer to hold the alarm in place on top of cotton underwear.
If this all sounds daunting when your child is still wearing diapers, keep in mind that a bedwetting alarm training program (remember that the alarm is essentially a training tool) lasts a matter of weeks – sometimes two to three months and rarely any longer, until your child is dry. It’s a short term transition and one that has substantial long term benefits when bedwetting becomes a problem of the past.
There are different reasons why children wet the bed, and the first port of call should be your doctor to evaluate whether there’s an existing medical condition causing the bedwetting.
But in those children who have no diagnosed medical reason for bedwetting, what they have in common is an inability to self wake during the night when their bladder is full.
Many might be prone to excessive fluid intake before bedtime or being exceptionally deep sleepers or not going to the bathroom to eliminate the bladder before bed – or all of the above.
But children who do all the above are not necessarily bed wetters. Kids who partake in the above behaviors but are still able to wake at any time during the night when nature calls, and make their way to the bathroom, will not be bedwetters.
Bedwetting children lack the ability to wake up, get up, and go to the bathroom before urination occurs.
And that’s where a bedwetting alarm steps in to the picture – to step in where the brain isn’t naturally doing what it should.
With repeated use, the brain is trained to wake on its own, before the alarm even goes off.
Alongside this, your child is trained to get up and go to the toilet by way of the loud alarm sound that needs to be switched off.
And that’s the basics of a how a bedwetting alarm works and why they are so effective.
Teaching your child to get up through the night to urinate is difficult without an alarm.
As a parent sleeping in the next room, or even sleeping in the same room, you are not going to know when your child is going to wet the bed during the night.
So you can’t possibly wake him or her and guide them to the bathroom.
Daytime toilet training is a challenge for all parents, and not all parents will need to follow this up with night time toilet training after a child reaches four or five years and older.
Here’s a key point though:
Children aged 5 and up who are wetting the bed at night will sometimes stop spontaneously. They do this without any training or alarms or other interventions. It’s just another childhood phase that comes to an end.
But when it doesn’t end, and when it continues as a child reaches 7, 8, 9 and sometimes much older, bedwetting will become a problem that negatively interferes with life and well being in multiple ways.
Every parent going through the distress of watching a child battle with this problem and feeling powerless will be hoping it goes away on its own.
In some cases it will, but in the majority of cases intervention will be needed. And the sooner you start, the sooner the bedwetting distress gets put behind you and your family.
<2>Bedwetting alarms can speed up the elimination of bedwetting
You have two choices if your child is wetting the bed now:
- Wait and hope it disappears at some point, or
- Try a bedwetting alarm and aim for dry nights within anywhere from 3-12 weeks from now.