How do Bed Wetting Alarms Work?


How do bed-wetting alarms work? Don’t they scare the child when they go off?

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

Last medical review on: January 19, 2011
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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Recent Comments

I would be reluctant to try this. I just feel it would ruin the person’s sleep pattern. Yes, it would be nice to quit wetting the bed, but I would hate to not be able to sleep as soundly as I do. I would rather take antidepressants. I took them for a while but was unable to continue getting them. They did for me. Unfortunately, after I stopped my bedwetting started again. But I would still rather do that then shock my system and end up not being able to sleep.