Dr. Greene’s Answer:
Bed-wetting alarms are among the safest and most effective of all therapies for bedwetting. The alarms have a simple moisture-sensor that snaps into your child’s pajamas. A small speaker attaches up on the shoulder with Velcro. At the first drop of urine, a piercing alarm goes off, that sounds similar to a smoke alarm. Instantly, the child reflexively stops urinating. Next, the household awakes, EXCEPT for the deep sleeper who wets the bed. Precisely those children who sleep through the alarm are most likely to be helped by it.
For the alarm to be effective, someone else must wake your child up (most likely you), walk him to the bathroom, and get him to finish urinating in the toilet — all before resetting that annoying alarm. If this ritual is continued, the alarm will likely begin to wake him up directly within 4 to 6 weeks. Within twelve weeks, your child will very likely master nighttime bladder control, and no longer need the alarm. Relapses after alarm therapy are uncommon.
I participated in a conference on enuresis where one of the speakers described the use in Africa of frogs strapped to the child as a ‘natural’ alarm. Today’s electronic alarms are more effective, and I dare say, more comfortable (for the frog as well as the child). Many good alarms are available. I like SleepDry, produced by StarChild/Labs (in which I have no interest whatsoever). It may be obtained for approximately $55.00 by calling 1.800.346.7283. or ordering online at www.sleepdryalarm.com.
Last reviewed: January 19, 2011