A Lighthearted Look at Bedwetting Alarms

The reactions of an older sibling are greatly enhanced by enuresis. Training is quick and easy – one shared bedwetting episode generally does the trick. It is however not as easy to train the bed wetter to adopt the same fully-awake, upright posture in the bathroom, irrespective of the distance away, as it is to have a bed-sharing sibling do so.

Primary bedwetting, usually prevalent from the ages of three to seven years, also induces a disproportionate sense of terror in the male species when junior creeps through in the middle of the night and crawls under the sheets between mom and dad. Mom, generally speaking, continues her slumber but dad, as if by genetic disposition, starts experiencing REM (rapid eye movement) and false warm feelings.

For all marketers of bedwetting alarms: take advantage of this gender disparity – fathers are generally more product-susceptible when buying alarms than mothers. Not to suggest that mothers are insensitive to the practicalities of bed-wetting; they are just not equally disposed to the midnight stark-staring-mad eyes look when urinated upon in their own beds. The hangover smell of stale urine in the children’s room and the washing of bedding is far more likely to trigger a buying signal in mothers than the prospect of being drenched.

All infants wet the bed… it’s perfectly normal so we are left to argue for how long enuresis should continue and how best to hasten its demise.

Enter the bedwetting alarm. The vote is normally unanimous – parents, siblings, grandparents and camp-out buddies united in squandering part of the child’s inheritance on any device that will speed up the process.

The majority of bedwetting alarms are aural aids to the enuresis sufferer. (A notable exception is the vibratory alarm, which is tactile.) They are meant, according to product brochures, to gently remind the wearer to wake up and use the bathroom.

Given that sound is the prime source of reminder, be aware that what sounds like a moderate beep in the supermarket may take on the qualities of a World War II Klaxton air-raid siren in the quiet of the night. Cheaper models may resort to a common vehicle alarm. You aren’t trying to stop the child from urinating for life; just to waken them sufficiently to move activities to the bathroom. If in doubt about the volume of the device, choose a model with volume adjustment.

Bedwetting alarms comprise a few parts. A moisture sensor, a wire, batteries and an alarm are generally the sum of the whole. Read the insert to get some idea of the model being contemplated. (No madam, you don’t tie the wire around the tip of his tinkie.)

The moisture sensor is at the sharp end of the enuresis business. This front-rank member should be safe, comfortable to wear and washable. Too sensitive and it will go off during the sweat of hot weather – too insensitive and immersion in a bucket of urine won’t trigger it. Testing the sensitivity in the supermarket by licking it is generally considered a no-no.

Comfort is paramount. If it is uncomfortable enough to keep a child awake, it’s bad. Mind the chunky sensor type.

The sensor’s connected to the…ay-larm. The ay-larm’s connected to the… sorry, old songs are terrible things. A wire runs through it and you don’t want the wire around the windpipe. Check this safety aspect carefully. Some fancy models even have a remote facility to an alarm in the parent’s room – guess who’s going to get up – that facilitates checking that the child has woken up and gone to the bathroom.

Don’t buy any model that plugs into the mains, if there are any such models still available. You’re trying to train the bedwetter, not invoke the death penalty.

After selecting a model, you’re still faced with the prospect of getting the victim to wear it. Passing it off as a “Captain…n…n…n Bladder!” suit works with the gullible, but it may come back to haunt in later years. Getting the child’s buy-in to wearing the device usually takes bribery, corruption and threats. Peer, not pee’er, pressure works for the campout types but don’t enlist the tent bully’s help.

Many models recommend inserting the sensor into a sanitary towel to make sure it hits the enuresis spot, especially with boys. Passing the sanitary towel off as “shoulder pads” can have embarrassing consequences when taking your toddler shopping and they brandish a pack, declaring loudly that you have forgotten the “shoulder pads.”

Models differ. A few aspects that may lead to failure are:

· Missing the point… girls are easier to line up than boys. Make sure the sensor can be kept in place without resorting to uncomfortable devices.
· Sharp edges on any part… if the device is uncomfortable, the child is not going to wear it.
· Ease of use… the device should be simple enough for the child to reset it without parental assistance.
· Durability… sooner or later the device will accidentally end up in the toilet bowl.
· Hygienic design… you should be able to disinfect the sensor easily.
· Tangling of the sensor / alarm connector wire… wireless models are available, if your budget runs to this.

Bedwetting alarms are an aid to preventing enuresis and there are other factors to consider. Remove the fish tank from the child’s bedroom. That lovely gurgle-bubbly water sound… you get the picture. Have soft lighting in the bedroom. Stumbling over discarded toys, the furniture or the cat in the dark with an alarm going off in your ear doesn’t endear the process to the child. Ultimately, be patient. It is usual for the process to take a few months.