Bathing may seem like a basic parenting skill, but ask any new parent how easy it is to hold on to a slippery little human while you clean in between rolls and crevices you have never explored on a little human before. While bathing your little hydran cutie as an infant is pretty much the same as bathing any infant, occasionally the stiff tone of their muscles can make it a little more of a challenge. Fortunately, most families find that basic baby tubs and other baby bathing aids serve them just fine during the first year; and since hydran children do not always gain greater strength and mobility beyond that first year, those infant assists often prove beneficial for even longer.
One day however, your child will grow too big for that cute little baby tub and most families find it necessary to seek out another alternative. Some will find a solution in laying a towel in the tub, until they start feeling that awkward hoist in their backs and they start seeking other options, particularly bath chairs. There are many models to choose from, with most being very similar in style and ability to provide beneficial support which works to keep bath time from being a chore. In the event you have difficulty obtaining one, keep in mind that your early intervention program can often help out with loaner equipment until you can purchase your own. Sometimes insurance and/or Medicaid will pay for this piece of equipment; with another option being to seek out a special needs equipment exchange to score a deal on one another child may no longer need.
Basic bath seats are styled similarly, regardless of company and model. Most can sit in the tub independently (think a traditional beach or folding lawn chair), or there is often a lower bathtub stand available to help reduce bending and back strain of the caregiver; not to mention that slippery child challenge that started in infancy. Some families even use the bath seat for fun summer time in the backyard wading pool, on the bank at the river, or even in the sand on the beach!
In addition to the obvious challenges of positioning children with hydranencephaly for safe and efficient bathing, many children also have body temperature regulation concerns. This can create an unpleasant bathing experience for you, and an especially traumatic experience for the child as well. To ensure your child is kept warm throughout the entire process, be prepared before you even start. One sure way to help keep in the heat, when using a bath chair on a stand above the tub, is to fill the bottom of the tub with hot steaming water. Adding essential oils to that steaming water can give added benefit as well, especially at bedtime or during cold season. Keep in mind that you should also have everything you need assembled in one general area nearby before beginning a bath or shower: towels, diaper, lotions, warm blanket, clothing, etc.
Whether you give your child a bath or shower, most of our families have found it immensely helpful to have a handheld shower installed. These are generally inexpensive and easy to install without a hefty bill and phone call to the local plumber. Once you’ve purchased and successfully installed this new handheld shower head, you can be sure to find great benefit in not only bathing your child easier with the sprayer but also using it to help to keep the child warm during showers with an occasional gentle rinsing of warm water over their body.
Baby shampoo is generally the obvious go-to choice for bathing infants, but will also prove to be the choice for long term bathing of children with hydranencephaly as well. Since these little wiggle worms often move around more than can be anticipated by even the most “in tune” parent, this will prevent the added trauma to both of you from an accidental splash or bubble dribble of shampoo in the eyes. These children also love to keep parents and caregivers on their toes, so the added benefit of hypoallergenic baby wash/shampoo will prevent unexpected allergic reactions. On that note, don’t be surprised if your child presents with a growing “splattered with paint” look during bath or shower time. Though this hasn’t been medically confirmed, several families have reported this occurrence and it seems to be another attribute to that temperature regulation challenge. On most occasions, it dissolves on its own shortly after bath time has come to a conclusion.
Now that you’ve successfully rescued your clean-smelling, wriggling little person out of the tub before they have gotten too cold, keep in mind that the experience is not quite over. When drying your child off, pay close attention to areas such as between fingers and toes, palms of their tight little hands, underarms, neck creases, and any other skin folds. These areas in our kids become irritated very easily as the kids don't move around a lot and they accumulate moisture which can create painful chafing, cracking, or even infection. Some families also find it helpful to use deodorant or absorbent powder on their children's feet and hands to help prevent sweating and fungal infections. After bath time, again remember to keep your child warm by only uncovering the area you are drying or dressing. Some families even use a warming blanket with close supervision after the bath. Hooded towels are also great for keeping warm.
Keep in mind that bath time should be fun for both you and the child! Make it a time to bond one-on-one and enhance that connection with skin to skin contact and even massage. As with all areas of care, find what best works for you and your child and don’t set expectations that may not be ideal for the both of you.