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Tips for Going Back to School with Catheters

going back to school catheters tips

If your child has begun to self-catheterize, you’re probably so proud of this big milestone! However, it’s understandable if you’re also concerned about their transition to independently using their pediatric catheter supplies at school.

For example, will your child be able to discreetly carry and use their catheters? Can they store all their needed catheter supplies at school? Will they be able to self-cath in a public restroom without getting a urinary tract infection?

Those questions are perfectly understandable, and we want to help.

Tips for Preparing to Use Catheters at School

Here are the top 7 tips for you and your child to get ready to start using catheters at school. We include advice from pediatric urology nurses who work with kids who cath every day.

1. Plan in advance, and visit the school with your child.

teacher at school

Schedule a time to visit your child’s school. Speak with their teacher, school nurse, and any other necessary school administrators.

Some of the topics you may want to discuss include:

  • your child’s condition & their requirement of a catheter to drain their bladder
  • the need for discretion and privacy
  • available storage options at the school

The teacher will likely make reasonable accommodations with a doctor’s note. This may include timed bathroom breaks so your child can follow their doctor’s prescribed intermittent cathing schedule.

Be aware that the school will likely require a doctor’s note.

Keep backup catheters with a teacher or office staff away from their regular supply, just in case their daily stash gets low or runs out.
Andrea Brown, RN,Pediatric Urology at OUHSC

The school will probably have an option to store your child’s backup catheter supply in lockable storage, like a private closet, locker, or in the school nurse’s office. This way, if your child ever happens to use more catheters than usual during the day, you can both rest assured that there will be additional stock always on hand for them.

2. Make sure your child can follow their prescribed cathing schedule.

Go over the routine for a few days at home together, and let them take over remembering to cath at the prescribed times of day with your supervision. This prep time can make your child feel more comfortable with their regimen while gaining a feeling of independence before they’re on their own during the school day.

A good way to set reminders is on a programmable watch or even on their phone

If your child has trouble remembering when to cath and doesn’t have an option for setting reminders, let the teacher know what times of the day or when your child should take a short break to go to the restroom and catheterize.

set pediatric cathing reminders for your child

3. Find a discreet way for your child to carry and dispose of their pediatric catheter supplies.

The scariest part of heading back to school as a child who caths is worrying about what others might think if they find out, so of course, it’s natural to want to keep their need for self-cathing private.

back to school catheters backpack

The good news is that there are plenty of options for privately carrying catheter supplies in public.

Angela Harting, Lead LPN at OU Physicians Pediatric Urology, suggests options for keeping catheter supplies discreet like “a makeup case, backpack, or eyeglasses case.”

Andrea Brown suggests wearing clothes with pockets and, “if possible, use pocket-sized catheters.”

If the school restrooms don’t have trash receptacles in the stalls where they can easily throw away their pediatric cathing supplies, they’ll have to use the main trash can in the restroom.

This doesn’t mean that their privacy has to be compromised. Send them to school with the amount of disposal bags they need along with their daily supplies. Simple paper lunch bags may do the trick.

Some closed system catheters include a separate bag for discreet disposal. Ask our Product Specialists about which options might be right for your child.

Most kids use a cinch bag to keep their supplies in. Using hydrophilic catheters are also helpful, so they don’t have to keep track of so many supplies.
Brandi Capps, RN, BSN, Duke Pediatric Urology
For more ideas, check out our blog “10 Ways to Carry Your Catheter Supplies Discreetly.”


4. Discuss maintaining proper hygiene with your child.

washing hands before cathingAbove all else, “washing their hands is key,” says Brandi Capps. Talk to your child about the importance of washing their hands with antibacterial soap and warm water before and after self-cathing to reduce the risk of infection.

Angela Harting says it’s a good idea to carry hand sanitizer in their pocket, backpack, or tote. This can help with quick and easy hand-cleaning when water and soap aren’t available.

5. Make sure your child knows what to do in an emergency.

in case of emergency

As a parent or caregiver of a child with special needs, you probably know what to do in an emergency. However, at school, your child will need to know how to reach out for help in certain situations.

Angela Harting advises that in case of any minor emergency, let your child know to “go to their teacher, their school nurse, or other trained staff while at school.”

They should know how to call you or another trusted family member.

Your child’s doctor and/or pediatric urology team is a phone call away.

180 Medical is here for you as well, especially in the case of catheter product questions, supply refills, and other related needs.

As always, in any serious medical emergency, their teacher should call 911.

6. Try an advanced pediatric catheter.

There are plenty of benefits to using an advanced pediatric catheter, like a hydrophilic or closed system catheter. Many of these benefits apply to the above tips, especially regarding discretion, ease of use and storage, and hygiene to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.

kiddie cath pediatric catheterHowever, it’s important to make sure your child is comfortable with using their new catheter product and has used it on their own at home with your supervision, if necessary, before bringing it to school to use on their own.

Hydrophilic catheters almost always include an adhesive tab on the back of the package to press and hang on the wall securely, rather than having to put it on the floor or try to juggle all their supplies. You’ll have fewer supplies to worry about when using hydrophilic catheters, and they’re easy to carry discreetly.

Closed system catheters are considered “all-in-one” catheters because, along with a hydrophilic or pre-lubricated catheter, the package also contains insertion supplies, such as antibacterial wipes, an underpad, gloves, and even a collection bag for easy drainage. Most brands also feature a soft, flexible introducer tip that is pre-lubricated. This tip helps the catheter tube bypass the highest concentrations of bacteria on the outside and in the first few millimeters of your child’s urethra. This can have a positive impact on reducing the risk of infection.

Hydrophilic and closed system catheters are “touch-free,” thanks to options like gripping sleeves that can help your child manipulate the catheter without ever having to touch the tube itself. This may reduce the risk of contamination from hands.

7. Check out the 180 Medical Kids Club.

By joining the 180 Medical Kids Club, your child will receive a free drawstring bag filled with some fun activities that help normalize the idea of self-cathing for children.

180 medical kids club bag ethan emmaPerfect for carrying catheters and other lightweight school supplies discreetly, each bag includes a colorful book for girls and boys with a story highlighting two characters, Ethan and Emma, who have Spina Bifida and self-cath. In this fun illustrated story, your child can learn that catheterizing all on their own can keep them healthy and increase their independence.

If your child is still learning how to self-cath on their own, the kit also includes catheter guides for children, as well as step-by-step information that will help them learn how to perform self-catheterization (whether they are cathing through their urethra or a stoma).

Still unsure if your child is ready to self-catheterize? Read our blog post to find out if they are able and ready to start cathing on their own. You and your child can feel more confident as they start learning pediatric catheter insertion.

Check out the 180 Medical Kids Club today!

180 Medical Is Here for Your Pediatric Catheter Supply Needs

For more information about catheter supplies that can help make your child’s cathing routine easier, more hygienic, and discreet, reach out to our live online chat option at during business hours or call us toll-free at 1-877-688-2729.

Good luck to you and your child in the new school year!

Call Toll-Free (877) 688-2729

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About the Author
Tips for Going Back to School with Catheters
Jessica is the Sr. Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical, and she has been with the company for over 14 years now. She loves getting to be creative in her role and hearing from customers about the positive impact we've made on their lives.

Outside of work, you can find her hanging out with her husband and their dogs or browsing garden centers (where she will almost certainly buy another houseplant she doesn't really need).