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Urinary catheter - infants

Contents of this page:

Alternative Names   

Bladder catheter - infants; Foley catheter - infants

Information    Return to top

A urinary catheter is a small, soft tube placed in the bladder.


A catheter may be needed if your baby is making only small amounts of urine. This could be due to your baby being very ill with low blood pressure, an abnormally developed urinary system, the use of a medication that decreases urine production, or the use of a medication that will not allow your baby to move his or her muscles. The catheter allows the urine that is made to be closely measured which will help your doctor determine how much fluid your baby needs.


The catheter is placed into the bladder through the opening at the tip of the penis in boys and near the vagina in girls where urine leaves the body. The opening is carefully cleaned using sterile technique, then a sterile catheter is inserted into the bladder.

In older children, a small balloon near the tip of the catheter is inflated with water to help hold the catheter in place. The catheter may be connected to a sterile bag to allow accurate measurement of the urine.


There is a small risk of injury to the urinary passage or the bladder during the insertion of the catheter. Urinary catheters left in place for more than a few days increase the risk for a bladder or kidney infection in your baby.

Update Date: 11/27/2007

Updated by: Deirdre O'Reilly, M.D., M.P.H., Neonatologist, Division of Newborn Medicine, Childrens Hospital Boston and Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

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