A stepstool to reach the sink and/or to climb up onto the toilet is essential for independence. A stepstool which is more like a platform is very versatile since it allows the child to deal with his/her clothes on the platform before using the toilet and when used for washing up at the sink, it allows plenty of roaming space. (HINT: A 4-8 inch "step aerobics" platform works well.)

Installing a low sink for their DD child is often preferred by many families.  While not all houses have the room for a low sink, such a sink can be worthwhile for your child since it can be used even in adulthood and also transported for use in future homes and/or apartments.  Sinks aren't necessarily reserved for bathrooms and can be added in some bedrooms if the plumbing allows it. To see a few other ideas, check out these SINK IDEAS.

Toilet arm rails or a grab bar on the wall nearest the toilet are especially helpful. Some children can even manage with just a nearby toilet paper holder, while others use the back of the toilet.

For very young boys, a handheld urinal saves having to use a stepstool every time. (Send one to school for this same reason.) For little girls, sitting on some folded toilet tissue as they get off the toilet is often all they need to clean up after urination.

The IT reacher mentioned in the Clothing and Self-Dressing section or tongs can be used to turn on faucets -- even a bent coat hanger works for faucets.

A lazy-susan is a good spot for holding liquid soap in a pump bottle, toothbrushing needs, etc. An electric toothbrush (many prefer the Braun which has a smaller brush head) is a good idea for any age -- you get MUCH better results!


Showers and Tubs:

Very young children usually take tub baths, but they can still help with their own washing using a bath mitt (made out of a washcloth) or any of the reachers mentioned below. Follow your child's lead and allow them to do all that they wish to try, even if they are extremely young and don't do a good job yet.

Double shower head systems are sold, where a regular shower head stays in place and a diverter button sends the water to a hand-held shower, so even a very young child can help with bathing and hair washing. Using this double-shower head, shower stalls are also very useful, but it's important that the water controls be within the older child's reach.

A small wire-coated three-tiered cart in the shower keeps liquid soap, shampoo (in a pump bottle), and washing gadgets within easy reach. Grab bars are available for tub sides and walls and are great safety items at any age.

A plastic stepstool (Rubbermaid makes a good one) can be used for a shower seat, if necessary. For older children, metal legs on taller bath seats can be cut down to size. Unless the child bends REALLY well and has excellent balance, a DD child will be able to reach more body parts if the child sits while showering.

Regular bath brushes or (for very little ones) "spiky" dish sponges on a plastic handle can be substituted for a washcloth mitt in the tub. Nylon body "sponges" (pictured below) also can be found with fairly long handles. If necessary, all these items can be bent with a heat gun to suit the child's reaching needs. GREAT for reaching feet, backs, etc.



There are numerous gadgets -- often called ADLs, aids for independent living -- available commercially that have long, extended handles to make reaching easier.  Different versions have brushes, combs, and bath brushes. Such items can be found in medical supply catalogs and are useful for regular hair care and shampooing, as well as bathing.  Amazon is a good source for these gadgets, as well as other nifty items which give added independence.

A cuff made out of thin elastic looped at each end can be added as a secure hand-hold to any reaching gadget. Twirled-on rubber bands also make good grippers for gadgets and soap and shampoo containers. (Rubber bands are also handy in the kitchen as grippers for many items.)

Some families are pretty crafty and have figured out ways to make long-handled gadgets at home. Materials are often very simple -- PVC piping, cable ties, etc. Pictured right is a home-made shampoo aide.



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