The alarm plus positive reinforcement seemed to work. Children wearing the alarmed diapers achieved independent bladder control nearly 52 percent of the time, researchers said. That was significantly better than the others' 8.3 percent, according to the study, published in Neurology and Urodynamics. What's more, the effects seemed to last at least two weeks beyond the test period.
One of the key advantages of the wetting alarm diaper-training method is that the child and the caregiver are immediately informed of leakage, Wyndaele said. The alarm itself distracts the child and strengthens the awareness of bladder behavior. By bringing the child to a bathroom at that moment, further reinforcement is given.
Wyndaele said the technique could be especially useful in Europe and the United States, where a large percentage of children regularly attend day care.
"The participation in the toilet-training process of the day care providers is thus valuable because they are often among the first to recognize when a child is developmentally ready to be toilet trained," he added.
And though intrigued by the study, two pediatricians in New York expressed some doubt that the Belgian method is better than the tried-and-true methods used by so many moms.
"I'm just not sure," said Dr. Marc Childs, who practices in Brewster, N.Y. "I usually find that toilet training works if you make the child think it's his need, not yours. My advice is, don't make diaper changing particularly enjoyable and reinforce others in your family when they go to the bathroom. He'll eventually get the message."
Dr. Peter Richel said that he did not see a downside to the alarm method, but would like to see more data.
"It's interesting and harmless, but the study is too small," said Richel, chief of pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital Center in Mount Kisco, N.Y. "Sti
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