Thursday, June 28, 2007

Alarming Potty Industry Extremes

I ran across an unsettling potty training/bedwetting product catalog in the "sick room" at our pediatrician's office today. (Oh yeah - All three kids are full-on boog-if-ied, and Pigtails has a double dose ear infection. That's $20 X 3 in co-pays and $90 in anitbiotics. So much for the antibody bennies' of extended breastfeeding.)

I wonder if you can read these creepy Potty MD product descriptions without feeling pity for the children who are persuaded/forced/made to use them, like I instantly felt. Whatever happened to potty training when the child exhibits signs that she's ready (like pissing on the new neighbors brand new carpet, like Pigtails, perhaps)? I feel guilty linking to Potty MD, and potentially driving business their way, but, c'mon, some of the available (and best-selling, mind you) "bladder habit" gear is unthinkable, at least to me.

Take a gander at this without cringing if you can:
Urine and Bowel Monitoring System
"Allows parents to evaluate and monitor their child's potty habits. Great for both urine and stool problems that commonly contribute to urinary frequency, holding, accidents and bedwetting. A very inexpensive way to understand your child's habits. It includes a urine collection device, bladder and bowel diary, instructions, and a school note to allow for frequent bathroom visits."

"Understand your child's habits." Hmm. How about "freakishly OBSESS on your child's elimination habits"? The only time my "stuff" was measured on the way out was when I was hospitalized at 12 for a severe flu the doctors suspected was Leukemia. Can someone explain to me how a monitoring system such as this is beneficial for potty training and/or bedwetting kids? Seriously, am I simply not getting it?

WET-STOP2 by PottyMD
"...It is a quality bedwetting alarm manufactured for the best results. Buzzer attaches near the child's ear using a unique and easy magnetic device (no safety pins or fasteners). The sensor clips into the undergarment at any specified location. No sewing and no pads required. Comfortable and lightweight design. Alarm sounds with the first few drops of urine. Remember alarms are successful, but they are even more successful when you follow PottyMD advice on working on daytime potty habits along with using an alarm."

I just about flipped. A potty alarm? You've got to be kidding? Obviously this product is designed to curb bedwetting, probably in older children, but sticking a buzzing alarm in your kid's ear and clipping a sensor to his scivvies ... Isn't that a bit extreme? Gawd. Poor kid. Think of the boundary violation and "private part" privacy "issues" he might develop.

Nite Train-R Wet Call
"A great bed wetting pad and alarm system. The bed pad avoids wiring on your child and clipping a sensor to your child's undergarment. The alarm is positioned near the child and it is loud. Works very well."

I'm sorry but a mattress pad equipped with a "loud" alarm that jars a child awake in the midst of an accident seems cruel to me. I could be totally off, though. I'm fortunate not to have any bedwetters so far, knock on wood. I wonder, though, if I did, would I resort to desperate measures like wired underwear attachments, ear buzzers and alarm equipped bed padding? Sounds more like freaky-deeky S&M gear to me.

What do you think?



At 1:19 AM, Blogger Whit said...

Cruel and crazy. Isn't lying in one's own piss punishment enough?

At 4:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am having potty training woes to beat the band...and I can honestly say I don't think I would ever resort to mechanisms and devices to attach to my kid and her bed...

I am holding out hope she will do it when she's ready!

At 5:19 AM, Blogger Mama Sarita said... first gut reaction to all of this stuff is that it is complete insanity from high strung parents that are afraid of cleaning up a little (or a lot of) Piss.

Somedays I think that 'piss spot cleaner' is bullet point number one in my mama job discription.

That being said, maybe....maybe there is some extreme circumstance that may drive a mama to some of those freak contraptions. I have a hard time not seeing this as harmful and shamefull.

I have a very very difficult time wraping my brain around startling the piss out of a kid with an alarm. That sounds like a torture device with the intention of humiliating a child.

Do you think people actually purchase this garbage?

At 5:21 AM, Blogger karrie said...

I can see how the vibrating watch might be genuinely helpful, for *older* kids who just get busy playing or engrossed in activities at school. The other stuff seems really creepy though.

We've been lucky with Max. He day and night trained at the same time, but I remember reading that the ability to stay dry over night is hormonal. Many kids do not produce enough of the hormone--forget the name--until they're much older.

At 5:24 AM, Blogger karrie said...

Also, kids who withhold poop might be driving some of this. We had problems last fall, and still do occasionally, in spite of a really fiber laden diet. It's a vicious cycle, since ignoring the urge leads to more pain, and kids can get badly blocked up and develop complications--like weakened muscles--that just get worse with each cycle of withholding.

So, I can totally understand doing whatever it takes to stop that quickly.

At 6:51 AM, Anonymous Rattling the Kettle said...

These products are insane. What parents need is an alarm that, when activated by the first drops of urine, zaps the child with a few volts of electricity.

Also fun for April Fools Day, when you can walk into your child's room in the middle of the night and pour some water "down there", activating the alarm.

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Em said...

I suppose for an older kid still struggling with bedwetting, using whatever helps would be a welcome thing. But in general, I agree, these seem to be pretty intrusive.

At 2:52 PM, Blogger ewe are here said...

Are these for real? They sound quite cruel....

At 4:09 PM, Anonymous L.A. Daddy said...

Crazy stuff. All that crap is going to do is make the kid so self-conscious about the whole thing that they'll be scarred for life. Therapy, here they come!

At 2:23 AM, Anonymous kim said...

I'm sorry...I have to say it....

What WILL they think of next?? HUH!!

Sorry to hear about the "boog-if-ied" (ick!!) kiddlies. Not nice at all. They can be expensive little blighters though can't they!??

At 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most sounds awful. However - my 10 year old is very happy now about the alarm. She didn't care about being night-time dry, and neither did we, until she started feeling uncomfortable going to sleepovers.

No electric shocks.

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree - our son was helped by a night-time alarm, as he was 8-9 and still having night-time accidents. He was such a deep sleeper, he wasn't waking up to go. After 2 weeks on the alarm, he never had another accident.

You do what you have to in order to help him. I have to disagree with the comments above, however. Instead of stigmatizing him, it gave him confidence that he could wake up and go and not have accidents, and therefore, could spend the night at a friend's house without worrying he would be embarassed by having an accident.

You do what you can to help. Heck, I had a cousin who had night-time accidents until she was 14... I am sure she would have appreciated it as well.

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Enuresis Treatment Center said...

We read your article, and would like to help. Studies indicate that deep sleepers rarely hear smoke detectors, and can sleep through fire/burglar alarms. Alarms sold to treat bedwetting are ineffective in correcting a sleep disorder. For 32 years, the Enuresis Treatment Center has successfully treated thousands of people from around the world by establishing a new and healthy pattern of sleep, which permanently resolves the bedwetting.
The Enuresis Treatment Center has put together an informative guide to understanding and treating bedwetting. This free bedwetting guide is available to download at

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At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, so my 5 year old is STILL wetting his pants. Literally went through 5 pairs of pants today. Talk about laundry. I know of no other 5 yr old that is doing this DURING THE DAY.

Honestly we are considering getting an alarm with him because I worry that his body isn't telling him when he needs to go. That and I'm worried about Kindergarten and the issues there if he can't get a handle on it while at home.

The nighttime accidents I can deal with. He's asleep for heavens sake. But the ones during the day? I'm finding after two YEARS of potty training that I'm coming to my wits end. I worry about REALLY loosing it and doing something that will scar him for life because of MY frustration. I asked him if he would want an alarm to tell him when he is having an accident so he can get to the potty and he said "yes". I think that gives you an indication. I think he is frustrated too.

I don't think a vibrating alarm will scar him for life quite like I possibly could. So give people a little bit of a break.

You haven't been in their shoes so PLEASE don't be so judgmental.

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At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did any of you ever think that these may be useful for children with special needs who don't have the cognitive ability to understand toilet training but would understand a non verbal cue? I have a nine year old child with special needs who we are still trying to potty train. I was just doing some research when I can across your blog...

At 7:53 PM, Blogger conforton said...

Yeah, it sounds crazy, but I'm finally willing to buy an alarm for my 8-year-old son who wets the bed every night. It's embarassing for him to have to wear a pull-up to bed. I looked into the prescription drugs that are supposed to help, but all of them come in--get this--pills that children have to swallow. He-llo!Don't these pharmaceutical companies consider all the extra water consumed right before bed? Also, I think it would be more invasive to make him take drugs that will mess with his hormones. I think the alarm sounds like a simple behavior training system.

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At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't read all the comments, but yes, you are lucky you don't have a bedwetter. My 4 year old just called my 7 year old a "baby" this morning--because the 7 year old has to wear nightpants (a larger sized pull-up) to bed. He is such a deep sleeper his body doesn't wake him up and he wets the bed. There is nothing wrong with my child, but this bedwetting is starting to shake his confidence. If YOUR child had a problem like this wouldn't you try everything you could to try to help them? My pediatrician recommended The Potty Alarm with confidence because it has worked for many patients.
I thought we would just let him grow out of it, but when the 4 year old says that to his older brother, you have to feel sorry for him and wonder if I wait until he 'grows out of it' how old will he be? 12?
Luckily you and me never had this problem, so I guess it would be difficult to understand, but for those with this embarressing problem (which is NOT their fault)this is a solution that they may have to use for a month or two and then be dry for the rest of their lives.
I agree that some parents might go to extremes to potty train their children when they are little, but these devices are designed to help older children with bed-wetting problems.
I'm sorry, but I think anyone who has to put others down has an unhappy life--why put down devices that help children feel better about themselves? Why put down devices that do good. Karma baby--watch out!

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