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Ostomy care tips for young children, infants and toddlers

Caring for young children, infants and toddlers with ostomies can be challenging, but with some practice and patience, these youngsters can expect to participate in all of the same activities as their peers. Today, there are several ostomy products designed especially with youngsters in mind.

If you are a caregiver for a youngster with an ostomy, there are some ways you can make his or her ostomy care go a little more smoothly:

  • If there is leakage, change the pouch and barrier. Do not tape around the skin barrier to contain the leakage; the urine and/or stool will irritate the skin.
  •  Do not use baby wipes to clean skin around the stoma – this will keep the skin barrier from sticking. Clean peristomal skin with plain water or use ostomy cleansing wipes, as recommended by your health care provider.
  • If possible, make pouch changing a two-person job – one person for changing the pouch and the other for entertaining the youngster.
  • Take extra ostomy supplies and a change of clothes with you in your baby’s diaper bag when going out.
  • For younger children, teach them to carry extra ostomy supplies – maybe in a special bag – to always have ready to go.
  • Tell your child to empty his or her pouch before activities or sporting events.
  • Encourage your child to wear a snug-fitting shirt or shorts (such as bike shorts) during activities to prevent his or her pouch from moving. Youngsters can wear another shirt or pair of shorts over top for added discretion.

Talking to friends, family, and school staff about your child’s condition

While the decision to talk to family and friends about your child’s ostomy is best made by parents, if your child is old enough, it’s important to get his or her input, too. When explaining your child’s condition to others, you may want to emphasize that your child is fully able to participate in all of the activities that other children do.

Let school administrators and the nurse know that your child has an ostomy. Provide the nurse with extra ostomy supplies in case your child needs them at school. You may also encourage your child to “name” his or her stoma. This allows your child to speak comfortably and discreetly to a parent, friend or nurse (for example, “Mom, Rosie needs attention”).

 

Related articles:
Attaching an ostomy pouch
Ostomy care after surgery
Staying active with an ostomy
 
SOURCES
www.ostomy.org/ostomy_info/pubs/uoa_brochure_child_has.pdf
www.ostomy.org/ostomy_info/wocn/wocn_basic_ostomy_skin_care.pdf