Navigating Childhood and Learning How to Self-Cath

Product Specialist | Shield HealthCare
04/19/19  5:00 PM PST

Self-cathing, also called clean intermittent catheterization (CIC) is when a catheter is temporarily placed just long enough to drain the bladder. There are many reasons your child may need to self-cath due to functional, anatomical, and neurological problems.

As young children, they depend on their parent/caregiver to perform the catheterization for them. But what about when it’s time for kids to start school or attend sleep overs? Learning to self-cath, or self-CIC, can understandably feel like a daunting task for anyone. However, being able to self-catheterize will allow your child to be more independent and confident.

When do children learn how to self-cath?

If developmentally appropriate, it can be helpful to have your child learn how to self-cath in kindergarten. This will prevent him/her from relying on the school nurse to void their bladder. Although some children are able to self-cath at five years old, it depends on when your child is developmentally capable.

Learning how to self-cath can be a gradual process. To become more comfortable with catheterizing, children can begin by just watching the process. Then gradually they can take responsibility for participating, such as holding the lubricant or removing the catheter themselves.

Tips for Self-Cathing at School

  • Pack as many catheters as your child will need while at school or away from home. It is recommended that children empty their bladders at least every three hours. Stick to this schedule as much as possible.
  • If needed, pack enough lubricant or sterile water for the amount of catheters taken.
  • Keep your child properly hydrated throughout the day. Stick to the schedule regardless of fluid intake.
  • If the catheters are reusable, pack extra plastic bags to keep clean and dirty catheters separate. Label the bags accordingly to avoid confusion. Using a dirty catheter can cause infection.
  • Pack extra wipes to make sure hands are always clean before touching the clean catheter. This will be especially helpful if there is not soap available in the bathroom.

Self-Cathing Support

It is important to remember that you and your child are not alone when it comes to CIC. Boston Children’s Hospital has an online collection of stories and personal experiences about self-cathing. To become more comfortable with the transition, read the Experience Journals to shed light on what it is like to self-cath at a young age.


Clean Intermittent Catheterization

When Your Child Needs Clean Intermittent Catheterization (CIC)

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