A lot of parents who have kids with Down syndrome or other special needs struggle with the issue of night time potty training. When is the child ready? How come he can be dry for 2 or 3 nights and then is wet for like 20? What's the KEY?? Keep in mind it is perfectly normal for kids to still be in night-time diapers at age 4 or 5. Usually be age 6 most kids have reached night-time continence.
This was a problem for Angela for several years until, at the suggestion of a friend, we tried the Rodger Wireless Bedwetting Alarm Systme.. According to the reviews by parents on the website, most kids were done with the alarm by around day (or night) 10. I found this to be true with Angela, although about 18 months later we had to use it again for just a couple of nights.
Fast forward two years to Axel joining our family.
Axel's foster mom had told me he was nowhere near ready for night-time training, and woke up wet almost every morning. I was really glad I'd brought a package of pull-ups along with me! His foster mom was right. The first 3 mornings he woke up soaking wet.
And then he woke up dry for the next 12.
A miracle? I don't think so. I think it had more to do with the fact I was following a strict routine, which just happened to NOT include drinking Coke right before bed. ;-)
We came home on day 16, and he woke up dry his first morning home which kind of surprised me. You know, being exhausted after 27 hours awake. In fact, he had three dry mornings and then it stopped. He was wet EVERY morning. We went through a month's worth of pull-ups and I told him (using crazy gestures and lots of pantomime since he didn't understand English) that when that pack of pull-ups was gone, there would be no more.
That was all good in theory but didn't work at all, probably because he did not understand what I was talking about. The first morning he woke up with every piece of bedding soaked. When I pointed out the bed was wet, along with his pajamas, he looked at me like, "Who peed in MY bed?" and was quite offended.
After 3 or 4 mornings of washing bedding, I was done. I mean, around here the bedding is usually the last laundry to get washed, and doing all this bedding was interfering with getting the other laundry done. I had a soaker pad and on the bed too, but Axel practically swims in his sleep and covers every inch of the bed so the soaker pad really didn't serve it's purpose.
I knew from our stay in Serbia that Axel was perfectly capable of keeping his bed dry all night. I decided it was time to try the alarm.
The Rodger Wireless Bedwetting Alarm consists of three pieces: The receiver that plugs into the wall, the "magic underwear", and the transmitter that plugs into them. (While there is a battery in the transmitter, there is no actual electricity hooked to your child.) The system comes with two pairs of the underwear. You will want to order a few more pairs! (6 is a good number.)
How it works: The receiver is plugged into the wall, and you set the alarm for whatever sound you want, and the volume you want it to be at. It's important that it be loud enough to wake the child AND THE PARENT, because the parent needs to participate in the middle of the night discussions. The child puts on the magic underwear, which has wires sewn into them, then the transmitter is snapped to the underwear. These wires are very sensitive to moisture, and when the child pees even a tiny bit the transmitter tells the receiver to sound the alarm! The purpose of the alarm is to interrupt the thought process the brain is going through so the child tunes into his body and is aware he needs to either get up to pee or control his bladder.
The first night I showed Axel the alarm, we went through the motions of what to do when he hears the alarm. I had him pretend to be asleep in bed then I hit the alarm button. Per the company's instructions, I taught him to get out of bed, turn on the light, turn off the alarm, go into the bathroom and sit down on the toilet to pee. (even if he'd just emptied his entire bladder in bed!) We practiced this routine about 15 times and I know for a fact Axel thought I'd lost my mind. As soon as he'd sit on the toilet I'd say, "Yay! Ok, pull up your pajamas, let's do it again!" We even did the routine with the light off. I wanted him to be independent with these steps so that HE could take responsibility for the problem, which is an important part of the process.
The first night the alarm went off around 1:30 a.m. I went into Axel's room and he was still sound asleep with the alarm BLARING just 2 feet from his head. I woke him up and said, "Axel, the alarm is going. Look, you peed your bed. Get up and turn on the light...Now turn off the alarm." etc. and walked him through the steps again. I could see the wheels turning in his head. "Didn't we do all this last night? So THATS what all the nonsense was about!"
We got his clothes and bedding changed, and he went back to bed, putting on a clean pair of magic underwear. We talked alot about the "wet" bed, and the "dry" pajamas he changed into and the "dry" sheets on the bed. (here's a tip, put layers on the bed! If you use soaker pads, put a sheet with pad on top, then another sheet with pad on top, so you can just strip the bed and not have to remake it in the middle of the night.)
The second night the alarm went off around midnight, and I waited to see what he would do. I still had to wake him up to go through the steps. All the while talking about "wet", "clean" and "dry".
Nights 3 and 4 he woke up on his own, going through all the steps. I went in when it was time for the new "clean" and "dry" pajamas and bedding.
Night 5 the alarm went off but his bed wasn't wet! Only the underwear! WOOT WOOT!
Night 6 the alarm went off and his underwear weren't even wet enough to change them. Just a dribble! Oh, this was PROGRESS!!! He had stopped peeing as soon as he heard the alarm.
That was the last night the alarm went off. We're now on day 12. That's six nights of uninterrupted sleep and clean bedding! WOOT WOOT!!! Axel will wear the alarm until he's been dry for 10 nights IN A ROW, and then we'll put it away.
We have used this alarm with two kids, and I highly recommend it. It has worked for both of them by night 10. While it's on the expensive side, it was well worth the expense to be done with the expensive pull-ups and washing of bedding! The Bedwetting Store has several different types of alarms available (including a vibrating watch that we used for Angela at school a couple years ago. Worked great!) allowing you to choose one you think will work best for your child.
Here's to dry beds!