Now that you’re about to become a parent, this is a time to treasure, but you might be worried. As a person with a disability, you may be concerned about how to get around with your baby or to respond quickly to your baby’s needs. However, there’s no need to worry. Today, there are many places where you can get tools, information, and advice on how to safely care for your baby.
The best time to start baby-proofing your home is right now. Don’t wait! Research shows that disabled parents may need more “sophisticated” planning than other parents. Give yourself enough time to try, test, and prepare for your child’s arrival.
Baby-Proofing Around Your Needs
First, start with basic baby-proofing, the same as all parents do. MomLovesBest.com has a handy checklist of all the items you need to think about before you have your hands full later on. Next, think about your own needs. How will you navigate your home with your child? Select a means to carry your child. Baby slings, for example, are very popular and will work for most parents.
Now, traverse your home with your sling. You might want to put a weight, such as a heavy bag of rice, in your sling to see how it might really feel.
Home accessibility updates are particularly important. Some things you might need to change include:
● The CDC reports that 8,000 children per day are treated in emergency rooms for injuries caused by falls. Installing skid-resistant flooring can help prevent slips. There are many areas where you update flooring, for example, adding a non-slip shower floor.
● Replace steps with a ramp. You have several options and you might want to hire a professional. To get an idea of your choices for a ramp, see this article at DoItYourself.com. Remember to always cover ramps with a non-slip surface as well.
● Purchasing expandable hinges for doorways. These provide a more affordable way to expand a doorway for better access.
● The bathroom can be a dangerous place as well. Reports show that over 200,000 nonfatal injuries per year take place in the bathroom, including the toilet. Install grab bars in the shower and around the toilet to help safely bathe and toilet train your child. You may also want to replace traditional faucets with levers if you have wrist mobility issues.
Once you have home modifications out of the way and have designed your nursery, you can purchase accessible nursery equipment.
● Buy a wheelchair-adaptive stroller so you can to help walk with your child.
● A side-opening accessible crib will make it easier to pick up your baby.
● Swivel-based car seats are a great convenience for traveling with your child.
● A baby-dining chair that attaches to your table may be a better choice than a traditional high chair when your child is old enough to use one.
If you need more help, check out these resources:
● The Disabled Parenting Project is a community for parents and prospective parents who have disabilities.
● DisabledParents.org has a full list of must-haves for parents with disabilities as well.
● LookingGlass.org is another website that helps disabled parents.
● Read this inspirational report on parents who are disabled from the Washington Post.
Raising a baby while you have a disability is a challenge, but you and your baby will both learn to adapt to each other. You will find that while you can plan as much as possible, you may need to creatively address some issues. Focus on making your home safe for your child as you care for your baby and everything will fall into place.
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