1 Bathing and washing

Showering with MS

Using shower gel most people apply to their hands and wash their bodies finding they have to reapply more gel. My tip is use a shower gel bottle when empty and refill with your favourite brand. Secondly use a soft bristled back brush apply the gel and wash your entire body without the need to reapply more gel. I make a 150ml bottle last a month. Also by putting shampoo and conditioner in travel bottles with pumps this allows me to apply just the right amount of each again saving money and if I drop or knock over in shower no leakage or heavy bottles to lift pouring more out than you need.

No surprises

Tina likes us to tell her well in advance what she is doing so I tell her in plenty of time that bathtime is coming up.

Muscle relax

Put a muslin bag of sage in the bath to help relax muscles.

Pump it or flip it

We use the pump action shower gel and also the same with toothpaste as this requires minimum co-ordination skills but gives some independence and as such confidence. If I can’t get a pump action topper I'll get something with a flip top rather than a screw top shower gel for her.

Check temperature

The temperature of bath water really has an effect. Lots of people with special needs find it very hard to regulate their own temperatures so you need to make sure you get it right. Ask your doctor.

Out of your depth!

Try changing depth it could make such a difference. I know Sally likes a really shallow bath while her twin brother Tom likes a really deep bath.

A handful of oats takes the itch out

What do you put in the water? Some easily available kiddie bath products may be too smelly or sting the skin or make the bath slippery. A handful of oats in a square of muslin, secured with an elastic band and placed under the hot tap while the bath is run will make the water feel soft and take the itch out of eczema.

Step it out - self prompts

John was having such a good time playing in the shower he kept forgetting to wash himself. My prompts through the door to wash were wearing thin so I got him to prompt himself. He shouts out which bit of the process he is doing and I find he actually gets washed properly this way. He said he felt a bit silly doing it at first, but now he is used to it and has added some humour to it. I am hoping that once the routine is properly established it can be faded to a silent narrative to himself.

Little by little/toy by toy

Jonty simply loathed baths, so I abandoned trying it for a bit, and instead I washed and wiped the essential bits and waited. A few weeks later I started putting some warm water and toys in the bath and he leaned over the side and played with them. After some tries at this he got in... (having agreed to take his clothes off first!)

Timing can be key

I started bathing Donny in the afternoon when he and I are both less tired it makes it all so much easier.

Take the flow out of hair washing

The main problem during bathtime is washing hair. Donny doesn’t like the water flowing over his face. There are little "face guards" available from Boots, Mothercare and Superdrug stores which are just rings which I put over Donny’s head and it prevents the water splashing on his face.

Floppy babies

Bathing a "floppy" baby is a nightmare and should take 2 people. There are also baby accessories you can buy (which I didn't know existed) in Mothercare that can help. Failing that, get an Occupational Therapist.

Don't forget the professionals

For getting in and out of the bath, contact your Paediatric Occupational Therapist who has many solutions for motor skills and sensory problems which help with independence.

Slide sheets

Slide sheets have been a real benefit to us. We have a two-way slide sheet for our Janey's bath seat and a one-way slide sheet for her chairs. They really help to lessen back strain for the carer as you are sliding your child rather than lifting. They can be obtained through the Occupational Therapist.

Bath crayons

Try using ‘bath crayons’, these are coloured soap shaped like crayons, really fun for bathtime and encourage reluctant kids to wash themselves! You can often find these in chemists and toy shops.

Does it really matter where?

Sometimes someone else's bathroom or shower can be more attractive, or a paddling pool outside in the summer can be tempting. Have you tried going swimming!

Fun and learning in the bath

Bathtime can be a time to learn in a fun way. There are loads of things you can use in the bath to learn skills: rub a dub hoops in the tub; squirty balls with a net - to learn 'putting in'; bath books - learning words while in the bath; fashion in the tub - foam people with items of clothes that you stick onto them, to learn items of clothing and where they go.

Sensory issues around water

If someone you are caring for has sensory issues about water and won't wash, let them use wipes as a start or a small damp cloth. Encourage them to tolerate water by getting them into doing dishes or washing the car.

Face wipes

Instead of using a flannel to wash my daughter's face, I use face wipes as the sensation is softer than a flannel, which feels rough on her face.

Ending bathtime

Harley loves bathtime so much, he won't come out. We have found that singing the Good-bye song from Mr Tumble to the bath works really well.

Reluctant bather?

If you are caring for someone who won't wash, get involved with activities that are followed by showers, such as swimming. It may help if they see other people showering. My son only started using the shower and wetting his head because he saw it in a film he was watching!

Mirror helps

Due to sensory issues our son hates to bathe. We struggle to get him to shower independently as he needs continual instruction. I found that using a free standing mirror has helped a lot, he can now wash his own hair. We use a 3 in 1 shampoo, conditioner and body wash to prevent confusion. He is slowly becoming an independent young man!

Waterproof torch

A waterproof torch for the bath (about £10) is great. It flashes red/blue/green and lights up the bath water beautifully. Can be taken to bed afterwards as an ordinary nightlight.

Blow dry

I use a hair dryer (on low heat) as a quick way to dry my children after a bath. They find it really funny!

Disco shower

I've bought a multi-coloured shower head on Amazon. The shower head flashes different coloured lights while the water is turned on. My son, who previously hated washing, loves it now!

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Using these tips

These tips have been contributed by members of our online community. We hope they will give you some ideas to try, but if you need further help why not post a question to the community or talk to one of our community advisors. If you have any concerns about your health or the wellbeing of someone you are caring for, please consult a doctor or qualified professional.

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