Using a catheter to empty your child’s bladder
You will need to help your child urinate until they are about five years old. Most children with spina bifida cannot empty their bladder naturally, so you will need to use a catheter, which is a thin plastic tube that is inserted through the urethra and into the bladder. It’s a simple and painless technique.
Why bladder emptying is so important
It’s important that you and your child both understand why bladder emptying is so important and that you get into a good routine.
The goals of good bladder management are to:
- Prevent damage to the kidneys and prevent infections in general
- Get continent
- Improve the child’s quality of life
- Help the child become independent
If your child’s bladder is not emptied regularly, it can cause infections. Even small amounts of urine left in the bladder can cause infections.
Before starting bladder emptying you should always consult a doctor or a nurse to get proper instructions in how to use a catheter.
Together with the healthcare professional, you will decide what type of catheter suits you and your child best and you’ll make a plan for how often to catheterise. Typically the bladder needs to be emptied 4–6 times a day – but this may depend on fluid intake and physical activities.
As a supplement you can use the animated user guides on this page to give you and your child a practical overview on how to catheterise. Choose the one that suits your child’s profile the best:
Coloplast also offers a step-by-step instruction you can print and bring to the toilet (pdf, 1MB).
Helping your child learn
When your child starts to show an interest – normally between the ages of three and five – you should start teaching them to empty their own bladder. Coloplast developed Wee Games to help you and your child learn how to do this in a fun way.