My 8-year-old son still wets his bed

My 8-year-old son still wets his bed. What I can do to break this pattern?

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Robert Steele

Robert W. Steele, MD, is a board certified pediatrician at St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, MO. He graduated from medical... Read more

In older children (usually older than 8-years old), a bedwetting alarm system can be quite helpful in teaching a child when he has to get up to go to the bathroom.

The alarm awakens the child by going off when it detects even just a few drops of urine. Then, by repetition, he learns the feeling of needing to go the bathroom at night and subsequently learns to get up.

A prerequisite for this technique is having a child who is interested in having dry nights. Then, fostering a team approach rather than a "here's-the-alarm-so-you-better-get-it-right" method is the key to success.

Alarms may be purchased either through your pharmacy, physician, or directly from the company. They cost a little over $55 dollars the last time I checked. There are now quite a few companies that make bedwetting alarms, but here are a few:

Wet-Stop Alarm - Call 1-800-346-4488
Nite Train'r Alarm - Call 1-800-544-4240
Nytone Alarm - Call 1-801-973-4090

Strategies to use when using the alarm system:

  1. First, talk with your child about the alarm system and how it works. Remember, it's a team effort, and the more he understands, the more in control he will feel. Have him learn how to set it up and have him trigger it himself with a few drops of water.
  2. Talk about what to do when the alarm goes off at night. Is there enough light leading to the bathroom so he can see? Is there enough light for him to see how to turn off the alarm in the middle of the night? Have him get out of bed before turning off the alarm. Does he have a dry set of pajamas and a towel to cover the wet spot when he comes back to bed?
  3. Encourage him as time goes on to make it to the bathroom when he feels his bladder is full but before the alarm goes off.
  4. Remember, your child may need help responding to the alarm for the first couple of weeks. When you hear the alarm, you may need to verbally awaken him for a while until he learns to recognize the alarm himself. Make sure he doesn't turn off the alarm until he is standing. Unlike your bedside clock, this alarm has no snooze feature. And don't turn off the alarm for him.
  5. Try to get rid of the alarm system as soon as you can.

I strongly suggest you discuss this with your doctor before beginning this regimen so that you can have ongoing discussions with him/her if problems arise.

Finally, there are prescription medications that work as well; however, some have side effects. And in the long run, alarms are ultimately more effective than medications.

I hope this helps, and I encourage any other questions/advice from parents on this subject.

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