Raising a child with special needs has lots of challenges but raising girls comes with unique issues. As our children transition into puberty, lots of parents are facing issues they never thought about before, like toilet training an older child, regression on toileting issues, post-menstruation hygiene difficulties, and new gut issues thanks to hormonal changes.
To be perfectly blunt, it can get messy. I want you to know that messiness is ok. The important thing is to teach your child to be as clean as they can be during this period. That means you’ll need to repeatedly cover, teach and review topics like:
- Regular, independent showering skills.
- Avoiding baths while menstruating.
- Toileting for illness and puberty, or basic skills for older children in stages.
- Feminine product use and disposal.
- Safely eliminating body odor.
You’re also probably going to get all the lessons you need on perfecting your patience. It’s not easy dealing with “accidents” when your children are older but here are a few tips to keep you sane.
- Stay calm by remembering the big picture. It’s only a stain and it can be cleaned and eliminated with a little effort. Ok, maybe with a lot of effort but with diligence, you may be able to teach your child to clean that too.
- Be prepared. Teach them about their period before they get it, teach them how to clean up in the toilet before they are trained.
- Get over your own yourself. You really can’t teach your learning disabled child to use feminine care products if you’re embarrassed.
- Go slow. These things take time. Try to remember how far you’ve come, like if your child is out of diapers, or telling you when they need to toilet, or not having an accident during the night. Little steps are always big for us parents so don’t forget them!
Toxic Water Wipes
Even with all that, messes can happen. Anyone raising an autistic child knows that regression can happen and anyone who’s child has food sensitivities knows that accidental food infractions can lead to upset stomachs or worse. Not only that, but girls are experiencing puberty at a younger age – and that means, often before we parents are ready! What do you do to clean up the messes?
From the day we bring our babies home, many of us rely on wet wipes to completely and carefully clean a child’s messy parts. But not all wipes are created equal. While you expect wet wipes to contain water, they can also contain lots of other chemicals that you do not want on your child. Brands, even popular or “natural” ones, can include some of these ingredients:
- Polysorbate 20
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine
- DMDM Hydantoin
- PEG Chemicals
- Propylene Glycol
- Benzyl Alcohol
- Caprylyl Glycol/Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
- Sodium Benzoate
- Benzoic Acid
- Disodium EDTA
- Citric Acid
- Trisodium Citrate
- PPG-16/16 Dimethicone
- Chlorine or Bleach used in processing
That’s a lot of toxins! Of course, all these chemicals have been approved by the FDA, but that doesn’t mean that they are without controversy or haven’t been linked to disease, reproductive problems, are hormone disruptors, or worse. In fact, in my career writing exposes for Mamavation, I can tell you that I’ve written about how questionable almost all of those ingredients are.
Another big problem is that many brands of wet wipes contain fragrance, which can contain a mind-boggling number of untested ingredients. Most companies use a proprietary recipe – meaning that there is no way to know what they are using or if it contains hormone disruptors and other toxins. Even some of the so-called “clean” (and pricier) brands contain at least 1 or 2 of these questionable ingredients. So is there really a choice for non-toxic baby wipes?
Cleaner Choices: Nontoxic Baby Wipes
How can a parent make sure they are using a nontoxic baby wipe? Well, you can go to EWG’s Skin Deep database, look up each ingredient and weigh the pros and cons. Or, you can make it easy on yourself and use a brand that contains NONE of those ingredients.
And that nontoxic baby wipes product is WaterWipes. Why? Because they contain only two ingredients:
- 99.9% pure Irish water
- 0.1% grapefruit seed extract, known to those of us familiar with biomed for autism as GSE, for skin conditioning. They contain 1 part GSE to 1000 parts water.
There you have all the ingredients: mostly water, with a little GSE. Since these wipes contain no other preservatives like their competitors, the expiration on the pack may be shorter than other brands. (Nearly all wet wipes have an expiration.) WaterWipes recommends you open with 15 months of production date and uses within one month of opening.