Let me open with this: it’s really not as bad as you’re thinking.
With any change to your child’s schedule/routine comes a few nights of lost sleep coupled with tears from both you and your baby. However, I am a true believer that little ones are super heroes with the ability to adapt to life’s changes like champs – my son is tougher than anyone I know.
The first two weeks were the hardest for all of us. It was recommended Mason lay flat as much as possible and that we prevent his hips from flexing, period. My husband and I did everything in our power to follow these guidelines as we were determined our super man would not be confined to that bulky piece of plaster any longer than he had to. Below, you will find what we could not have lived with out for six weeks. I hope you find our tips useful and that you will share with other hip families seeking advice.
1. Family & Friends
If your situation is anything like ours, you likely went from being either a full-time employee/busy stay-at-home mom, to caretaker, 24/7. I would not have been able to keep a positive, calm attitude had it not been for the visitors and help we received. Not only did it provide companionship and breaks for me, Mason LOVED having company and entertainment other than mom. He sensed when I was at my worst, and my anxiety only escalated his frustration. I cannot stress enough the importance of finding time for yourself during a time that is only about your child.
2. Duct tape
As long as your child doesn’t have a latex allergy, strip that cast of the “waterproof” tape petaled during casting and replace with duct tape. It’s scary at first – you don’t want to mess anything up – but it is AMAZING. If his diaper leaked or the inside of the cast was soiled, I simply wiped the tape or replaced it. I found the waterproof tape used by hospitals was anything but waterproof and replacing it was the best thing I did for Mason’s comfort.
3. Cast Cooler
It’s worth every penny. Using a hair dryer is simply not efficient and doesn’t do the job. We hooked Mason up to the vacuum twice a day to pull out moisture and cool him down. Chillin’ in his bean bag chair (which is also a must), he wasn’t phased by the noise.
4. Portable DVD Player/iPad/Tablet
As I mentioned, the first two weeks were tough. We couldn’t allow Mason to sit up and play with toys which left us scrambling to find ways to keep him occupied. No, I don’t support the idea of “screen time” for children under two, but when you have a 10-month-old who can’t move, you find any and all cartoons/videos that provide temporary entertainment.
5. The same diaper (and size) used prior to surgery and one size up
I tried everything: preemie/newborn diapers for the inside, lining diapers with maxi pads and panty liners at night, using only maxi pads for the inside of the cast… and then stumbled upon another hip mom’s advice: once the swelling goes down, tear the Velcro closures off your baby’s regular size diapers, tuck them into the inside of the cast and wrap a larger diaper, one size up, on the outside. Once I started doing this, we didn’t have another leaky diaper.
NOTE: Once the swelling goes down (1-2 weeks post surgery), you can actually push the back of the diaper up into the cast as far as it can go. It works best to roll your baby onto his/her side or belly to create space for your hand to tuck the diaper in. We made this into a game… one, two, three, ROLL!
6. Spica Chair
On day 14, we were cleared for Mason to sit up. From that point forward, he was in his Spica Chair. Thankfully, our physician’s practice had two circling around between families that weren’t being used. They are a bit pricey if you have to purchase them out of pocket, but I promise it’s one of the best investments you can make. I will NEVER forget the smile on Mason’s face when he sat up for the first time after two long weeks or how great it felt to pass the chairs on to another hip family in need.
Let’s face it, sponge baths aren’t easy. Once the initial intimidation wore off, it was our new normal. Every other day, I used Johnson & Johnson Face/hand wipes as an alternative and would actually wipe his belly and back as best I could to remove the grime that had rubbed off on his skin.
**UPDATE** Johnson & Johnson just came out with head-to-toe wipes that are much larger than face/hand wipes and would be a great option for cleaning!
On a different note, here are my tips for sponge baths:
- Use a warm, damp cloth with your favorite baby wash suds,
- Wipe his/her face, arms and legs,
- Follow with a clean damp cloth to remove soap.
My take on shampooing:
- Lay your super hero on top of a few towels (for comfort and to soak up water) with his/her head at the very edge of the kitchen counter/sink,
- Soak his hair with water from the sink faucet (the kind that pulls out),
- Shampoo and rinse as usual, and
- Immediately place a dry towel under his neck, wrap his head with the towel and pick him up. Wah-laah, the cast is still dry.
I originally thought I would need to purchase an umbrella stroller to accommodate Mason’s cast. Surprisingly, I was able to position him comfortably with the use of pillows in our Gracco jogging stroller. Every morning, we went for an hour walk and marveled in his majesty 🙂
At each diaper change, I spritzed a small amount of Febreeze (or lavender oil) on the outside of the outside diaper. If the cast began to smell, I’d also dab a little on the inside and makes sure to do an extra “cast cooler” that day.
8. Mother’s Intuition (which should also be up there with #1)
No, we weren’t supposed to pick Mason up for two weeks, allow him to have “screen time”, use duct tape or stick our hands inside the cast. Yes, my job was to ensure my child was comfortable, comforted and was treated like the normal, healthy 10-month-old he was. When it was clear he had had enough, I picked him up and held him until his tears stopped. When he had to lay completely still, he fell in love with Mickey Mouse. When I found a system that worked, we stuck to it and I wouldn’t change a single thing.