Using a catheter to empty your child’s bladder
You will need to help your child catheterize until they are about five years old or until advised otherwise by your health care provider. If your child has spina bifida, they may not be able to empty their bladder naturally. Your doctor or nurse may prescribe the use of an intermittent catheter- a thin plastic tube that is inserted through the urethra and into the bladder.
Why emptying the bladder is so important
It’s important that you and your child both understand why bladder emptying is so important and develop a good bladder management routine.
The goals of good bladder management is to:
- Prevent damage to the kidneys and prevent infections
- Improve the child’s quality of life
- Help the child become independent
If your child’s bladder is not emptied regularly, it may cause infections. Even small amounts of urine left in the bladder can cause infections.
Before starting any new bladder management routine, you should always consult your health care provider. Together with the doctor or nurse, you will decide what type of catheter best fits you and your child's needs. They will also advise on how often you should catheterize. Typically, the bladder needs to be emptied 4–6 times a day – but this may depend on fluid intake and physical activities.
Helping your child learn
When your child starts to show an interest in self-catheterization – normally between the ages of three and five – you may consider to begin teaching them to empty their own bladder.