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This is the situation. My 5 1/2 year old is concerned because he does not know if his bottom is clean when he wipes himself after a BM. He knows that sometimes his bottom needs a lot of cleaning and sometimes very little. He does not know which is the case after any given BM.

Any tips on how a young child can tell if his bottom is clean enough?

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    Baby wipes FTW! After deploying I realized that baby wipes are not just for babies :) – Jeff.Clark Jun 10 '16 at 21:02
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How can you or I tell if our bottom is clean enough?

Clean enough implies primarily that:

  • The bottom will not be uncomfortable, as it sometimes is when there is some fecal matter remaining
  • The bottom will not smell or leave (many) marks on the underwear

So, for the one, he has wiped enough if his bottom feels comfortable, and in general if it continues to not feel uncomfortable. If he finds that he gets itchy or feels like there's "something there" afterwards, then he knows he didn't wipe enough and can do better next time.

For the second, well, the way I do it is I look at the paper afterwards. If the paper has a certain level coloration, then I know I need to wipe again, right? I would work with him to identify that level. And, if he's unsure, give another quick wipe with one sheet of paper - if that's clean, you know you're good.

It's also probably worth discussing what kinds of stool will need more wiping (wetter stools, mostly, or the "stickier" ones in particular). Dry stools typically just need one good wipe. This could even be combined with a discussion of the science of poop - what different factors affect what characteristics the stool has.

He could even perform a science experiment on himself - measure his hydration, his fiber intake, fat intake, carb intake, etc., and see how the changes in those levels affects the stool and how much wiping is required! Very appropriate for that age, and can be fun (and if nothing else, perhaps encourage him to eat better!)

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As long as the tissue paper is not clean white, it needs to be wiped again. It helps to have baby wipes (fresh wipes) that are moist and clean the area faster and with less irritation.

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    I worry that that instruction leads to overwiping, which can end up being very painful and can lead to adulthood issues with same, unfortunately. "Clean white" is very hard to ascertain, and typically a '"clean white" wipe means you had one more wipe than necessary. As long as the child is bathing frequently and wears underwear, tiny bits aren't going to cause a problem. – Joe Jun 10 '16 at 20:21
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    One overwipe per BM doesn't seem like a big price to pay for a clean bottom. And I disagree about tiny bits not being a problem. They itch after a while. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Jun 13 '16 at 18:21
  • @Joe I doubt there is anything painful with overwiping when using a wet wipe. They usually have aloe to help moisturize. Tissues are abrasive even when using much less. How on earth is clean white "very hard to ascertain"? It's either clean or not. If you have a tissue or wet wipe drought, then I get your comment. Otherwise, no. – Rachel S Jun 14 '16 at 16:30
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If you can afford it (it's not really all that expensive), keep the kid on flushable wipes, which you can find in either the diaper or toilet paper section. It's not just kids' stuff anymore anyway! Adults are nowadays being more demanding of their hygeine, and thinking of their bottoms as something that needs to be washed after every BM to be properly clean; other cultures have always done so, either with a bidet or by hand, and think it's kind of gross that we just wipe ourselves with dry paper in our dirtiest spot!

With these things, anyway, you really can teach him to wipe, and wipe thoroughly, until he sees only white; no worry about chafing or disintegrating paper.

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My son is currently learning to wipe himself, and we're teaching him to wipe three times and then call us (to finish as we used to do). This helps us monitor his progress and lets us dial back our efforts as time goes by.

We tell him that if his third paper is (reasonably) clean, good. If not, continue until it is (and this is where our monitoring prevents him using half a roll). We also tell him not to look at the first paper because it will obviously be used.

We're still trying to convince him to wipe backward instead of sideways.

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