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Q: My child is a bed wetter. Are there any natural approaches that can help the situation?
A:Bed wetting, otherwise known as enuresis, is a very common problem facing millions of children nightly. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that between five and seven million children wet the bed each night, with boys being more predisposed than girls.
It is important to keep in mind that your child will outgrow wetting the bed and that until that time there are steps that can be taken to help the situation.
Bed wetting is a multi-faceted issue that can be triggered by a number of reasons such as emotional stress, trauma, a small or overactive bladder and unregulated sleep cycles.
In terms of food, although not substantiated by research, there are several reports of food allergies and sensitivities being linked to bed wetting. If your child does wet the bed, try removing diary (the most common food sensitivity), followed by wheat products for a one month period. In addition, do not let your children eat a heavy meal right before bedtime. By doing so they will enter a very deep sleep cycle, making them less likely to wake up and go to the bathroom.
If they are hungry at night, give them a light snack such as a piece of fruit or a vegetable. Lastly, limit food and beverages after dinnertime and limit fluids that contain caffeine, such as colas and teas late at night.
Children who wet the bed need support, not discipline. This is not a situation in which they are acting out or being bad and need to be punished. As mentioned, stressful situations and unresolved emotional conflict can exacerbate the condition.
In addition, children often feel embarrassed by their condition and become anxious about the idea of sleepovers at a friend's house or overnight camp. Try to ease their stress by assuring them that they will indeed grow out of it and that every step will be taken to help stop the problem. Hugs, support and focusing on their positive attributes will help the situation.
Dr. Joey Shulman is the author of Winning the Food Fight: Every Parent's Guide to Raising a Healthy, Happy Child. Her second book, The Natural Makeover Diet, will be in stores in January 2006. For more information, please visit www.drjoey.com.,