While wetting the bed shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment—after all, it's a common problem countless kids experience—it’s still no fun waking up in the middle of the night feeling wet and cold. More importantly, sleep disruption, feelings of shame, and general annoyance are likely to accompany the behavior. And since bedwetting is viewed as a real problem after a child reaches 5 or 6 years of age—shortly before party and sleepover invitations start flooding the mailbox— it’s an issue that kids often have a strong motivation to overcome. So if nighttime accidents are starting to get your child down, try taking a look at some of the essential gear to help you both cope—and move towards lasting dryness.
With the surprisingly vast market of bedwetting products out there, it can be tricky to separate the real thing from the scams. Renee Mercer, a registered nurse and specialist in the field, emphasizes the effectiveness of several bedwetting products. Since there are a broad range of products out there that are targeted at all different types of kids, there's a good chance that you'll be able to find one that's just right for your little one.
Wearable bedwetting alarms While it may seem a bit extreme—and perhaps unnecessary—to fork out the cash to buy a gadget for such a common problem, many parents swear by the Malem wearable alarm. Clipped to a child’s underwear, the alarm responds to the first drop of moisture with an intense vibration and combination of sounds that fall somewhere between a car alarm and a traditional alarm clock.
Sounds aggravating, right? Well, that’s the point. As Mercer explains, the alarm is effective as a method of behavioral conditioning. “By alerting the child when the wetting occurs, the brain and bladder begin to make the association that the child should wake up and walk to the bathroom when the bladder is full.” It takes several nights for the child’s bladder to halt the flow of urine at the indication of the alarm sound. Mercer claims that in 10-12 weeks, children usually build up a permanent behavioral response to the alarm’s sound—and achieve nighttime dryness. Where to buy
Wireless bedwetting alarms If the alarm that's placed in arm’s reach isn’t effective for your child, consider taking the strategy one step further. This alarm is wirelessly connected to a unit that plugs in across the room, forcing children to wake up and walk across the room to turn it off. While the price runs a bit steep, parents are able to modify the alarm's settings by taking advantage of eight different tones and volume control—so even the very deepest of sleepers wake up. Where to buy
Mattress overlays Necessary in order to make the shift from disposable underwear to regular cloth underwear, these are placed one top of the mattress for protection. Easily replaced in the morning, mattress overlays provide a great short-term option to minimize mattress damage. Although it doesn't provide a solution to bedwetting, it does make the in-between period easier to bear. Where to buy
Waterproof bedding A similar concept to mattress overlays, waterproof bedding provides a more permanent short-term solution. Since it's relatively inexpensive and simple to wipe down, some parents find it a better fit for kids that take a little longer to achieve dryness. But, be forewarned: if you've got a picky kid when it comes to tactile issues, he may not be too keen on the plasticky feel! Where to buy
Vibratory watches for daytime voiding programs These vibrating watches are great for children who are not only having trouble with nighttime accidents, but also need a reminder to use the potty during daytime hours—commonly co-occurring issues. The watch vibrates at set times, helping to reconcile daytime accidents and allow families to move onto tackling nighttime bedwetting.
So what about the medications commonly associated with bedwetting? Mercer cautions the movement towards medications as a “cure-all.” More beneficial as a short-term solution for a sleepover or special occasion, medications such as DDAVP work by decreasing the amount of urine produced in that night only. In order to treat the root of the problem, it’s important to find ways to reduce the behavior itself.
While your child is working to achieve dryness, why not work to boost his confidence and self-esteem? Books shared one-on-one are a wonderful way to get kids to get more comfortable in their own skin. One popular children’s book to help address their concerns is Prince Bravery and Grace by Gail Gross. It's a wonderful way to help sensitive kids realize that even ultra-brave princes face the fear of bedwetting! Filled with facts and realistic solutions, it manages an ultra kid-friendly tone throughout the entire story. Where to buy