There are a ton of bedwetting products on the market. From bedwetting alarms, to smart phone apps, it’s tough to find the product that’s right for you and your child. We help you sort through it in this product review post.
If you and your sleep coach have decided to go the “conditioning” route, you will be wanting to find one of the best bedwetting alarms for you and for your child. There are a number of features I recommend you look for. Here’s a rundown of the various types:
- Wearable devices: This is an all-in-one system with a sensor, a wire, and an alarm. The sensor attaches to the child’s underwear. The wire leads to an alarm that the child attaches to her shirt. When even the smallest amount of moisture touches the sensor, the alarm goes off and wakes the child (or at least the parents) and the child can go finish voiding in the toilet.
- Wireless devices: These systems require the child to get out of bed to silence the alarm, which is either plugged into the wall or sits on a dresser or table. The act of getting out of bed can help the child condition herself for using the bathroom at night without the alarm!
- Bell and pad systems: These older designs include a sensor pad that the child sleeps on, and a wire leading to an alarm. The pad needs to get wet to trigger the alarm, so the child must produce substantially more urine before the alarm can wake her
Need a SLEEP COACH?
There are pros and cons to all makes and models. For every product and design, there are some consumers who are dissatisfied because the device malfunctions. This is to be expected with any electronic device. The most typical complaint is that the alarm is too sensitive, goes off without becoming wet, and/or is difficult to turn off.
The next most typical complaint is that the system simply doesn’t work: the child still wets the bed and/or fails to wake up to the alarm. Almost without exception, parents give up before making a full effort to finish conditioning. The process takes 12 weeks, on average. The entire family must be committed to making the project work, and 12 weeks is a long time.
Do the Two-Step
The deep sleepers are actually the children most likely to be helped by these alarms. Families that decide to pursue conditioning must know that, at least in the early stages, the parents are very likely going to have to get up and wake the child when the alarm goes off. This is an important part of the process to teach the child to associate the alarm a full bladder and the need to get up and use the bathroom.
Many families report a “honeymoon” period. The device works great for two nights, and then the system appears to stop working. Like most of the advice I’ve given over the years, everything appears to work for two days. Then reality sinks in. I must emphasize that conditioning takes at least 12 weeks. Patience is essential.
The devices with the “two-step” process are better. They require that the child or parent remove the device and turn off the alarm.
And the Winner Is…
Based on my research, consumers favor products from Malem Medical above all other bedwetting alarms. Based in Nottingham, UK, Malem makes all three varieties (wearable, wireless, bell-and-pad), for prices all around $100 US. Malem products may not be the fanciest, or have the sharpest look, but they’re the most reliable and they get the job done.
There are two primary aims when thinking about bedding for your child: you want to protect the mattress and you want to limit the number of laundry loads! Here are the types of products you’ll be looking for:
The best mattress pads are “breathable”. By that, I mean they allow heat to pass through, but not liquid (which would defeat the purpose). For sleeping in summer, and for children who generate a lot of body heat, breathable mattress pads are the way to go. The most breathable material is polyurethane.
Next, you want to consider the number of layers in a mattress pad. Here, the more the better. The best pads have four layers. You pay more for the thicker pads, and you get what you pay for.
A less-expensive option is the zippered vinyl mattress cover. It turns out this is the best solution for allergy sufferers who are concerned about dust mites. For the allergic child who wets the bed, this may be the two-bird-one-stone solution.
It Went Through His Pads!!!
So you’ve protected the mattress. But what about the sheets? To reduce the amount of laundry you have to do, you might want to consider overlays, also known as underpads. This is somewhat of a misnomer, since these go over the sheets, and tuck between the mattress and box spring. You can wash these with the rest of the laundry.
The Top of the Line
How do (nice) hotels do it? Let’s face it, hotel beds get dirty, and the management cannot maintain high quality without premium mattress covers. These combine all the features of mattress pads, vinyl protectors and underpads.
Which product you choose really depends on your budget and the amount of laundry you want to do. My best recommendation is to go most economical: a combination of a vinyl mattress cover and underpad. Vinyl makes for easy clean-ups, and has keeps dust mites away from the child. It will also extend the life of the mattress. The trick is finding the right size for your child’s bed. An underpad can substantially reduce the number of loads of laundry you (and your child!) need to do. This twin mattress vinyl cover is only $10. The best underpads are the “saddle” variety. They start at around $8.
This is going to sound like an odd recommendation… because it is not a recommendation. I don’t like the idea of pull-ups or absorbent briefs for most children. The exception is children with special needs. The reason I don’t generally recommend briefs is because the point of bedwetting treatment is to teach the child to stay dry through the night! Pull-ups and other absorbent briefs defeat this purpose. The only instance in which I would recommend briefs would be for those that are paired with one of the bedwetting alarms. Also, children tend to be more comfortable in their own underwear at night. It’s uncomfortable enough to wear an alarm. Briefs only add to the discomfort.
Everybody knows that urine stains sheets and mattresses. And a fair number of people know about the odor that urine can leave as well. However, few people know why urine stains leave an odor that’s hard to get rid of. The perpetrator is uric acid. It turns out that bacteria love uric acid. They use it as a food source. It’s the bacteria that cause the odor, not the urine itself. The key to getting rid of urine stains and odors is getting rid of the uric acid that the bacteria love to feed on. To get rid of uric acid, you need a cleaner that contains enzymes.
At Bedwettingstore.com, you can purchase two great products for stain/odor removal. Urine-Erase is a two-step system that requires no other cleaners. The only downside is that you’ll need probably an entire day to completely clean the mattress. A better choice may be OdorZyme, which is a one-step process.
DAYTIME WETTING REMINDERS
These are basically wrist watches that vibrate to remind the child to go pee. You can adjust the settings to the interval you want: 2 hours, 3 hours, etc. They look just like regular digital watches and so no one but the child need know she’s wearing one! Reminder watches are especially useful as aids to a child who is learning to pay attention to her bladder signals, including children who wet during the day.
My favorite is the Rodger 8-Alarm Vibration Reminder. This one is cool-looking and doesn’t actually have the word “vibration” written on the face, so it truly looks like a normal wrist watch.
It’s essential for parents to tell their children that their bedwetting is normal, that there are lots of other children who wet the bed, and that the problem can be fixed. But sometimes it’s difficult for parents to get his message across. Even for parents who are great at communicating these ideas, books are a great way to reinforce these important points. Bedwetting books, like bedwetting alarms, come in three varieties. There are books written primarily for parents, books just for kids, and books written for both parents and kids.
My favorite is 7 Steps to Nighttime Dryness by Renee Mercer. Mercer is a pediatric nurse practitioner, a PNP, and I just love that you say this “Pee & Pee” (go ahead, say it out loud!). But it’s a terrific, easily accessible guide. Best of all, you can get the book as part of a kit that includes the Melem bedwetting alarms (and see KITS section below).
A bit less accessible, but more comprehensive and detailed is Getting to Dry, by Urologist Max Maizels.
Prince Bravery & Grace – Attack of the Wet Knights. This one is a “little young” for pre-teens and adolescents, but for the 5-10 year olds, it’s a cute story with a happy ending, of course!
David’s Secret Soccer Goals. This is a great one for boys beyond “Prince Bravery” age. It’s a short chapter book, remarkably insightful and sensitive to the anxieties of pre-adolescent boys with bedwetting.
For Parents and Kids
Waking Up Dry, written by a Pediatrician, is an interesting hybrid, meant to be read together by parents and children. I like this approach because cooperation by parents and children is essential for successful mastery of bedwetting problems.
By 2015, there were over 1000 bedwetting apps for smartphones. Which ones are best? Fortunately, a group in Australia who published a review in the Journal of Pediatric Urology found that only three of the 1000 were useful for parents and children.
My Dryness Tracker, a free app, includes a lot of compelling features, including a module that allows you to send results to the child’s physician.
Bedwetting Tracker, from Ireland, also comes loaded with extras including video, but is only available for the Android operating system.
My favorite is HapPee Time. It’s kid-friendly and includes a rewards page. This is the sticker-chart section that I discussed in the post on Bedwetting treatments. In general, any product that is useful for both parents and kids is a bonus.
To save some money, you can buy treatment kits that include bedwetting alarms, books, and special bedding as well. The best value includes some of the items I’ve already highlighted: the Malem bedwetting alarm, underpads, and “7 Steps to Nighttime Dryness”. You can find this kit online for about $130.
Bedwetting treatment is long and requires a ton of patience and good humor. Even the best products like the bedwetting alarms and and other things I’ve chosen are going to be a bad fit for someone. If you’ve done your homework and you’re certain there’s no medical reason for the bedwetting, you may just need to try several devices and methods, or combinations of methods until you find the right fit.