Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Bath time perils

First of all equip yourself with a sense of humour at bath time, you will need it! 

This is probably the hardest task for physically disabled parents so also put your "I can manage" head firmly on because you will need all your resources and wits about you as you may have to think quickly or how to manage something easily with a slippy baby or cold baby. Bath time is not the time to forget a needed item and to have it stuck in another room, bath time is not the time for a cold house unless you fancy having your ears ringing by the wailing whilst you struggle to get a child dried with slow hands and then wrestle him or her into its clothes! Preparation is a must. Have two surface areas ready, one for holding all bottles,clean unfolded nappy, baby towel, Bepanthen, bath sponge,shampoo etc. Another surface area, a sturdy table or changing station on wheels right up to the bath so there is little lifting a slippy baby far. Here is my experience, I can only give suggestions but I hope they help. 

As a child I could not chase an Occupational Therapist out of the house quick enough, I hated their plastic nasty looking aids, I hated them asking if I could bake a cake and a roast dinner at aged 8 because non of my friends baked a cake at aged 8 or a roast dinner! I just found them annoying to be honest, now I am an adult I find them less annoying but the knowledge of what to do to help a disabled parent seems incredibly limited and really I have every respect for this profession now I am a woman but they still seem a little clueless but not through their fault but really through lack of disabled people coming forward with ideas or helping professionals with thoughts and tips. 

We had our baby boy back from hospital and nothing to help us, no information, no aids, no visits from OTs, really nothing until my health visitor arrived and got referrals to OTs. I had a lovely young OT visit and we needed urgent suggestions on bathing our baby with limited grip in our hands etc. She was actually very good and suggested a nice looking bath board which actually was a shower board so it had slats in it,was white and looked modern and trendy,not plastic "I am special" looking....shivvvvver! It attaches to the bath very strongly and when Christopher was little I put his changing mat on the board, a towel on top of that and him on top of it all. My husband got into the bath and I passed my son to Daddy who after bathing passed him back onto the changing matt. I dried him off, put a clean nappy on and whisked him into his bedroom onto the bed in his room and got him dressed....yeay mission completed!

Christopher got bigger and a few weeks ago we changed the plan because neither of us could lug him out of a bath easily any more. Out came the baby bath which I thought was going to end up being sent to the tip as a useless item, but its out and doing a job well! Now we put the baby bath on the board, bath board in the middle of the bath, daddy sits on the end part of the bath and holds Christopher, I take sponge and give him a good scrub whilst singing funny songs to keep him still as possible and having fun at the same time. Daddy grabs Christopher and legs it to Christopher's bedroom and we get him dressed. 

The secret is in the toilet, yep thats right, fantastic table storage, don't worry it gets anti bac wiped every single day and it holds every thing required for a quick scrub as mentioned above. Our bog sits right by the bath but we could, if we were not cheap skates, buy a changing station but to be honest I'd rather take my son on a fun day out than spending more money on dull tasks. 

We have tried and tested other bathing methods, we brought a baby bath seat but actually Christopher's legs kept getting stuck in it, he was too tiny in it in other respects and kept getting important places rather squashed so we ended up using mega padding all over, rendering water and bathing a bit pointless! 

Of course Christopher is going to get too big for the baby bath, I am already plotting my next move. I am thinking Bumbo on the walk in shower floor and speedy shower. Other thought, sit on a shower chair with my baby, both shower  with me clasping on for dear life to my son, who knows I have never yet had a task beat me so I'll find a way and keep you updated! 

The thing to remember is don't worry if you can only sponge bath your baby on his changing mat on your bed, he won't mind, he is getting clean. We only bath Christopher once a week because it is a killer on our backs,arms,knees. He gets a good wash down on his mat and we even manage to clean his hair on his mat using the sponge. The books like to say that it is a must to bath a child more than this, is it heck, they are hardly doing the 200 meter sprint or mud wrestling as babies are they! Nothing a sponge and an ice cream box of warm water will not sort. An alternative is a water proof table cloth on a bed, washing up bowl filled with warm water for baby to sit in. It works quite well actually for a shallow splash.

One final and important suggestion is put minimal baby wash in the bath, use a non creamy wash as it will wash off well and leave the baby less slippy. Do not use loads of wash because their skin doesn't really require it and the most important thing is your child is safe and easy for you to handle. 

To get a bath board please contact your local Adult Social services help desk, there is one at every local council and ask to self refer yourself to an OT for an urgent assessment. They will ask why it is urgent, stress the safety aspect, they can not legally leave a client potentially at risk or their clients child at risk, always works! Trust me my mother is a social worker and has read every book on disability rights to the point of boring me when she has quoted from them since I was aged 14!

 Its funny as a child with a disability you feel upset by anything or any one that makes you feel different including physios who make you wear splints or OTs who want to see if you can make a roast dinner as a child, when you are an adult can you can't get hold of any one to help or be interested but the above disability activist tip aka my mother, should help.

Good luck and happy splashing :o)

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