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Toilet Training Goes High Tech
Date:6/19/2009

Wetting alarm speeds up the potty process, researchers say

FRIDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- For countless generations, parents have been trying to get toddlers to pee in the toilet. Now, Belgian researchers think they have come up with a 21st century solution -- electronics.

Researchers at the University of Antwerp are working with a diaper alarm that alerts grown-ups, especially day care attendants, when tots do their business in their diapers. The alarm emits a pleasant musical sound when wet and does not harm the kids.

The theory behind the study comes straight out of the annals of behavioral and biofeedback psychology. By responding faster to dirty diapers, attendants can give appropriate encouragement and help children focus on bladder control more efficiently, said Jean-Jacques Wyndaele, study co-author and professor of urology at the University of Antwerp.

The technique had not been tested among healthy toddlers, although alarms have been used successfully to help older children overcome bedwetting problems and teach mentally retarded children to use the toilet, Wyndaele said.

"There's overall very little research in this area," he said. "We wanted to see if this would work."

The team picked 39 healthy youngsters at several Belgian day care centers. The kids, who were 18 to 30 months old, were chosen for their relative maturity and readiness to begin toilet training.

Training started as soon as the children arrived at day care and continued throughout the day for three weeks. Special diapers made by the researchers consisted of a light alarm box attached to a self-adhesive strip in the diaper. When the strip got wet, the diaper emitted a ringing sound, and the child was taken to the potty and encouraged to finish.

Researchers rewarded their tiny test subjects if they completed their business on the toilet.

All children wore the same type diapers, but only
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