Pregnancy and childbirth can make any new mom nervous, but for disabled parents, the worry can be even greater. However, with proper planning and the right nursery items, you can make your home safe for baby and more convenient for yourself.
What To Prepare Before Baby Comes
For your baby’s arrival, you want to make sure of two things. First, ensure that your home is safe for both you and your child to navigate in addition to standard baby-proofing. Next, you’ll need to think about nursery products and innovations that can help you care for your child whenever he or she is in need.
Modifications In The Home
Statistics from the CDC show that 8,000 children per day are treated in emergency rooms for injuries caused by falls, and the numbers are high for adults as well. This and other safety concerns are important to consider when you bring home your child. Follow these guidelines from Babycenter.com for traditional baby-proofing safeguards. You may need to take a few extra precautions to adapt your home to your needs, such as:
- “Remove any loose carpeting or rugs; it can get caught in wheelchair wheels or cause slipping,” and, “Replace door knobs with levers. Door knobs can be difficult for a wheelchair-bound person to turn, but a lever can be easily pushed down,” instructs Angie’s List.
- The bathroom can be a treacherous area. Install grip bars in the bathroom to help you safely bathe and toilet train your child. You can also replace standard faucets with levered faucets for ease of use.
- Use non-slip mats and install skid-resistant flooring to help prevent falls and trips.
- Navigate your home as you would with your baby beforehand to ensure you haven’t missed any hazards.
Setting Up The Nursery
Fortunately, there are some adaptive nursery items that can make your life easier. Here are some ideas:
- Buy a swivel car seat for your vehicle.
- You can purchase a side-opening crib for easy access if you are a wheelchair user.
- Research adjustable-height cribs, bouncers, changing tables, and high chair options. For example, you can purchase a chair that attaches to your dining room table instead of a traditional high chair.
- Hearing-impaired parents can buy adaptive baby monitors.
- Use textured tape or braille labels on bottles and baby food if you are visually impaired. You can find more tips and tools in this article from the National Federation of the Blind.
- If you can’t find a solution you’d like but have an idea in mind, contact the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy to see if they can recommend a resource to take on your project.
Want first-hand advice? AbleThrive has a page where parents with disabilities share their tips and adaptations. You can also check out DisabledParenting.com, which has resources, information, and even podcasts that can help you on your journey to parenthood.
Welcoming Home Your Child
The one thing you shouldn’t worry about when bringing home your child is bonding with him or her. You will face challenges, but over time, you’ll learn to resolve any issues that come up when caring for your child. Don’t even worry about buying the “right” adaptive solution. You and your baby will adapt to each other.
In fact, research from the American Psychological Association backs this up: “Mothers developed ingenious baby-care strategies, without the help of adaptive technology,” says infant/family therapist Megan Kirshbaum, PhD, who developed and conducted a groundbreaking study of mothers with physical disabilities.
A new baby can bring joy as well as stress, but with careful planning and modifications, you can create a home that serves you both well.
Written by Ashley Taylor
Ashley Taylor is a disabled mother of two wonderful, amazing, energetic children. She met her husband, Tom, while doing physical therapy. Tom had suffered a spinal cord injury due to a car accident and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Ashley and Tom knew they wanted children and knew they would have to adapt their lives and home in order to make this dream come true. Ashley is happy to say that they are the proud parents of two healthy, wonderful children and their disabilities haven’t stopped them from leading a happy, fulfilling life.