Parents of kids who are having nighttime accidents may seek a technological solution in the form of a bed-wetting alarm. These devices clip onto kids’ underwear (or may even be special underwear with built-in sensors) to detect moisture, which triggers an alarm that is usually some combo of sound, light or vibration. The idea is that the alarm will wake the child up the moment he begins to urinate. And the selling point is that he may eventually sleep through the night without wetting at all. But the process is time-consuming and complex. It requires parental involvement in the middle of the night and diligent consistency. And the alarms are not cheap (the price range is from $50 to $170 per our research).
We asked Grace Hyun, M.D., associate director of pediatric urology at NYU Langone School of Medicine, if they’re worth the time and money. The key takeaway? If you have a bed wetter, don’t be alarmed—or rush to buy a device. Here, our edited and condensed conversation.
PureWow: When parents ask you about bed-wetting alarms, what age do their kids tend to be? Is there a certain age when we should be concerned that nighttime accidents have gone on too long?
Dr. Hyun: First, I want to make sure we are all talking about the same thing. The type of bedwetting we are describing is kids who only have nighttime issues. If there are any daytime urinary symptoms, then that is a different situation requiring a totally different approach. But as far as nighttime bed-wetting goes, I see kids at all ages. The younger they are, the more common it is. A 5-year-old who is bed-wetting is so, so prevalent that I don’t even necessarily think it’s a problem. As kids get older, the number of kids who will eventually get better on their own increases. Bedwetters, for the most part, all become dry. This is a temporary issue. With time and age, you just start getting drier and drier. In general, it seems that puberty makes a huge difference. I see very few pubertal or post-pubertal kids with bed-wetting.