Proper Use of Bedwetting Alarms

Bedwetting or enuresis is one of the more common behavioral problems with small children. Bedwetting occurs when a child, instead of waking up and going to the toilet, or just ‘holding it’; releases urine when the bladder gets full during sleep. There are a lot of reasons for it – deep sleep, a small bladder capacity, an increased production of urine during night and constipation. Sometimes, even sensitivity towards certain foods can contribute towards enuresis. Studies indicate that children who suffer from enuresis fail to register the connection between the urge to urinate and the need to wake up and go the bathroom. It is as if their brain was differently ‘wired’ and this basic behavior pattern is absent from their mental make-up.

A number of treatment options are available – medication, bed pads and bedwetting alarms. While medication always has its inherent risks, a bed pad is plain uncomfortable. Its plastic surface does not tend towards a relaxed sleep and neither does it sound the alarm when the child expels only a small amount of urine.

The safest bet for any parent of a child suffering from enuresis is a bedwetting alarm. This kind of an alarm has a sensory disc, which can be attached to the child’s underwear, which in turn is connected to a device, which sounds an alarm immediately when the disc registers moisture. The theory is that if you are successful in waking up the child as soon as he feels the urge to urinate, you can train him to go to the bathroom immediately. The child’s brain registers the connection between these two acts and learns this behavior. Eventually the child will learn to get up without the need for an alarm and bedwetting would stop.

Because they instigate a behavioral change in the child, the use of bedwetting alarms is highly recommended. In fact, studies show that these devices have success rate of 60% to 80%. While medication is a stopgap arrangement, the alarms teach the child a lifelong habit. These devices usually have a standard mode of operation. The alarm is connected by cable to a small sensor. This sensor is attached to the outside of the child’s underwear. The lightweight alarm unit is anchored usually to the shoulder or lapel of the child’s pajamas. The sensor should be placed where the first drop of urine would be expected. Moisture triggers the alarm (usually auditory), forcing the child to wake.

Initially, some difficulties might be experienced while using the alarm. The child might sleep through the jarring alarm, pull it off during sleep or refuse to use it. In these cases, parents have to proceed with extreme patience. They would have to help the child to wake up during the night and eventually he will learn to respond to the alarm. A restless sleeper might dislodge the sensor. Thus, it is necessary to choose a model that adheres firmly to underwear, while at the same time is not uncomfortable. In the case of a child’s refusal to its usage, you should attempt to demonstrate its operation. Listen to his objections and persuade him by adequately addressing his concerns. However, in no situation should a bedwetting alarm be forced upon the child.

Copyright © Jared Winston, 2006.  All Rights Reserved.

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