Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in children. And having a painful UTI can make a child hesitant to go to the bathroom, which can lead them to hold their urine, which, in turn, can contribute to more UTIs.
Fortunately, there are ways to help your child avoid UTIs by instilling good bathroom habits. In this blog, Smita Tandon, MD, of Dr 2 Kids in Fountain Valley, California, discusses why UTIs occur in children and how you can help them avoid getting infections.
A UTI occurs because bacteria gets into the bladder or kidneys. This often happens because bacteria from solid waste enters the urinary tract. Because of the anatomical structure of girls, UTIs are more likely to affect girls.
Childhood habits often contribute to UTIs. For example, many children would rather play than take time to go to the bathroom. This can lead to accidents and bacterial growth. Furthermore, they may rush their bathroom hygiene in order to get back to playing.
If your child is susceptible to UTIs, or if you want some guidelines to help your child avoid a pattern of infections, consider these five tips:
Make bathroom breaks a requirement, not an option. Instead of asking if your child has to go, schedule a mandatory trip to the bathroom every 2-3 hours. Help your child learn that they can pass urine regularly before the urge becomes desperate. This will help them avoid retaining their urine for too long.
Another habit that can never start too soon is drinking lots of water. Drinking water throughout the day and urinating often will help keep their bladder flushed and make it less likely to acquire bacteria. Urine should have very little color. Strongly colored urine is a sign of dehydration, and this urine will be more likely to burn during urination.
It’s important for your child to wipe properly after urination and bowel movements. This will help keep fecal bacteria away from the urethra, which is a common cause of UTIs. The proper way to wipe after a bowel movement is front to back. Some children skip wiping after urination in their eagerness to return to play. Stress the importance of staying clean at all times, so that they don’t rush through their bathroom routines.
Probiotics, such as those in yogurt, help the urinary tract as well as the digestive system. Add yogurt products when your child reaches 6 months of age, and keep the rest of their diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Cotton underwear will allow your child’s skin to breathe, a key factor in staying dry and denying bacteria a favorable environment to grow in. Though it may not always be easy to keep your child in loose-fitting clothing, try to avoid tight fits that trap moisture and body heat.
If your child shows any signs of a UTI — such as pain in the lower belly, a need to go more often, or foul-smelling pee — Dr. Tandon can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr 2 Kids today.