As we come up on our 4 year patch-aversery (6,500+ hours of patching) I thought we would make a quick post with some patching tips. We have a love/hate relationship with patching. We are in no way perfect patchers and are still trying to figure everything out. We started patching my son’s left eye when he was 4 weeks old (because of a congenital cataract). We have gone through GREAT patching stretches and BAD patching stretches (particularly around 18 months old and 3 and a half).
Patching an eye can do wonders for bad vision. Patching (covering a good/strong eye) makes a bad/weak eye work harder and become stronger.
If your just staring off on your patching journey or if you’ve been patching for awhile. Here are a couple ideas and things that have helped us.
Some patches may irritate your child’s skin so experiment and find what works best for you. I review a few of our favorite patch brands on this post HERE.
Don’t be embarrassed about the patch. Make patching a part of your everyday life, go out during patch time. If you don’t act embarrassed about it then your kids will notice and feel more comfortable. Make them proud of their eye patch. No need to hide.
Explain to your kids why they wear their patch. Explain to others why your child wears the patch. Do this in front of your child. This way your child will learn how to tell others why they patch and feel comfortable about it.
For years Scott always wore his patch to church. When he was around 3 his sunday school teacher was surprised when scott showed up at church without his patch on! She told me she thought he didnt have an eye and that was why he always wore a patch! I never really thought to say anything about his patch but there are a lot of people out there that have no idea why kids wear a patch! A lot of people care about our kids and would love to know why our kids patch but are afraid to ask.
Some days will be hard. Im sorry! I feel your pain. I have had weeks where I haven’t been very good about patching, when getting back into it is painful! We have had days where I have had to hold Scott’s arms with him crying “I can’t see!”. Join a support group like Little four eyes. Talking and sharing ideas helps!
I promise you it wont always be hard. I PROMISE! It gets easier! One day you will be able to put that patch on and get no complaints!
If they pull the patch off, just put it back on. This can be exhausting but just keep at it. They wont do this forever!
- Swim Floaty’s – Sometimes you need to stop them from grabbing at the patch. We used swim floaty’s on my son’s arms when we were desperate. These made it harder to bend his arms so he couldn’t reach the patch. It only worked for about a week but it helped. After about a week we would be doing pretty good with out patching.
- Just a note: Some days its not worth it. Don’t get me wrong here. Patching is VERY important and needed to help improve our kids vision but some days its not worth the fight. In the years of patching we have had our fare share bad days (Overly tired, grumpy, sick with runny noses, fevers, mommy morning sickness and more.. ) On bad days don’t feel guilty about taking a day off. Don’t get in too much of a habit of this though. Too many days off will make it a lot harder getting back into a good routine. (Believe me, I know!) But a day every once in awhile wont hurt, don’t beat yourself up about a missed day every once in awhile. You can always make up some time the next day too.
I think this is my #1 suggestion. Distraction is key to our patching success. Make it fun.
1. Try new things – Go get a $1 ice cream cone, go to the children’s museum, go to the movies, anything to get some time in. Remember that patching wont always be hard and you wont need to do as much once you get into the hang of patching (better vision helps too).
2. Go outside – We always do so much better patching when we go outside to play. I only suggest playing at the playground and things once they can see pretty well patched. We don’t want any falls! Kids love being outside and can be easily distracted. Our FAVORITE patch place is the beach! We never have any complaining when there is playing in the sand involved.
3. Fun activities – We love playing with edible playdough, stickers. coloring, finger painting, sensory bins and more! (anything up close is great when they can’t see well)
4. Have a patch party – You can have a party with friends to celebrate how great they are doing with their eye patch! Have friends decorate patches for your child to wear and read some books about patching.
Until you get into a routine and patching becomes easier, giving rewards can help you get some patching in. Remember the more patching you do the easier it will get.
- Let them play on a tablet/phone only when patched.
- Use a patching reward chart. There are some great ones on Amazon for boys here and girls here.
- Give small treats. On particularly hard days I tell scott he can have an M&M every 10 minutes he keeps his patch on. After awhile he forgets and the patch will stay on longer! Id say thats a win!
Patching shirts can also make patching more fun too!
Having a routine can help if your child is struggling. When Scott was younger we tried to always put the patch on at the same time every day. We had the best results when we put the patch on during breakfast. He was busy eating and wouldn’t rip the patch right off. Now that he is older I normally put the patch on once we start an activity, go outside or head to the store.
Sometimes removing the patch can be really hard on a kid.
- Stick to your leg – Sometimes sticking the patch on your pants, then using it can make it a little less painful to remove.
- Milk of magnesia – Rub this on, let it dry and then put the patch on. It can act as a barrier.
Remember to please only patch if your doctor prescribes it. Keep up the great work and Don’t give up! You are doing a great job! Do you have any other questions about patching? What things have worked best for you?