Bed wetting alarms, like kids, come in different shapes and sizes. So, what type of alarm will suit your child best? Here are some things to consider when choosing the right alarm for your child.
Wired bed wetting alarms have a sensor on a cord that plugs into a body-worn alarm. The alarm box usually attaches to the shoulder of the child’s night clothes and the sensor cord is run under the pyjamas down to the underwear where the sensor is placed to detect the wetting.
Wired alarms are usually well-priced for the budget conscious consumer and are great for younger kids who are not embarrassed to wear an alarm.
If your child does not usually wear bedclothes because of climate or personal preference, the body-worn alarm will have to be attached to the bedding which may be problematic -possibly restricting movement or risking getting wet with urine.
If your child is a restless sleeper their tossing and turning may pull the cord out of the alarm box, or, if they cannot be bothered getting up when it triggers, they can just unplug it to stop the alarm!
Wired sensors that clip onto the outside of the underwear cannot be used with pull-ups or trainers. If you intend to use these to minimise your laundry loads, look for a sensor that can be used directly inside pull-ups or nappies.
Sensors that are a good size to capture the first drops of urine are particularly useful in the case of boys who will wee at different spots depending on how they are sleeping e.g. on their backs or side. Also, dual sided sensors that detect moisture on both sides can be more effective in some situations.
Wireless alarms come in three versions:
In all cases, the alarm is a separate unit that can be placed on bedside furniture or plugged directly into a wall socket. Once the sensor detects wetting it will transmit a signal to the alarm to trigger it.
Wireless alarms are usually more expensive than body-worn alarms. They are particularly good for restless sleepers as there are generally no, or much shorter wires, to contend with. They may also suit older children better who tend to be more self-conscious about being seen to wear a bedwetting alarm.
Wireless alarms are better for children who do not wear bedclothes, except for underwear, and because the alarm can be placed remotely on furniture in the bedroom the child must get up to turn the alarm off and not just unplug it and return to sleep.
In terms of the sensor the same issues apply as for the body-worn alarms: make sure the size is appropriate and if you intend to use pull-ups make sure it can be used with these.
Comfort may also be an issue. If you child sleeps on their tummy, having a transmitter attached to the top of the underwear at the front may be uncomfortable.
If you have a very deep sleeper a sensor that works with two alarms, one for the parents’ room, can be an effective option.
Bedwetting alarms with a sensor mat use a mat that goes on the bed, either under or on top of the bottom sheet, to detect the bedwetting. They are usually wired systems. The alarm is clipped away from the mat to the bed or bedding.
Mat alarms are useful for children who do not want a sensor in or attached to their underwear or who do not wear night clothes due to climate or preference.
If a child wets more than once a night you will need to have additional sensor mats to replace the wet ones, as they cannot be used until they are dry again.
The alarm may take longer to trigger with a sensor mat as the wee has to travel further before it is detected. There is a risk that the bladder could be completely emptied before the mat detects the wee, depending on how the child sleeps. In this case the child may not want to get up because they no longer need to go to the toilet which may hamper the night time toilet training process.
Before choosing any alarm make sure your child is ready to start their night time toilet training as it is important that they are committed to the process. Before choosing an alarm, understand how your child sleeps and how often they wet so you can purchase the type of alarm that is most suited to their needs.