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Health & Parenting

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Bed-Wetting Myths Debunked

What to do and not to do if your child wets the bed.

Don't Blame the Victim continued...

Parents should start looking into formal treatment sometime between the ages of 6 and 7, according to the National Enuresis Society or sooner if the child seems troubled by the bed-wetting.

"Older kid are not as likely to outgrow it and these are the kids that deserve specific help -- whether an alarm, medication, or a combination," he says. "With help, most kids will be dry within 12 weeks," he says.

I will never sleep through the night again.

If parents like Terry's find themselves setting their own alarm to wake their children during the night to urinate, they should purchase a bed-wetting alarm. "They really do work," says Shubin. Enuresis alarms sound in response to wetness and can be purchased at drugstores for as little as $60. They have a cure rate of 75%, according to a study published in the journal Pediatric Psychology. And when combined with medication such as desmopressin (DDAVP), which acts on the kidneys to reduce the flow of urine, the urine alarms are even more effective, the study says.

Just don't give up too soon, Greene says. "Many parents say, 'I tried it for a couple of weeks and it didn't work,' but enuresis alarms often take up to 12 weeks to make a difference." Be patient.

Before resorting to an alarm or medication, try using a "star chart," where you give a child a star for every dry night and a prize for a few dry nights in a row. But "if this doesn't work in two weeks, it won't and continuing it may only discourage the child," Greene says.

Behavioral changes too play a role in achieving dryness, he says. Try decreasing the amount that kids drink before bed. "This will make a difference and may just be enough for some kids," Greene says. Limit fluid intake to 2 ounces in the last two hours before bedtime and cut out caffeine, which is a natural diuretic, he says.

"Kids should not be drinking a lot of soda with caffeine anyway, but a lot of them do," Greene says.

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