8 June, 2018

Adaptive Parenting: Preparing as a parent with a disability

If you’ve recently learned that you’re expecting, congratulations! If this is your first rodeo and you’ve got a disability that you’re worried could affect your ability to parent, there are plenty of things you can do to ease your transition to parenthood.

Home Preparation

Chances are that if you’ve lived with a disability for a while, you’ve already adapted your home to make life easier. However, trying to bathe a squirmy infant, give a bottle, and carry your little one — especially if you’ve got mobility issues — represents a whole other set of unique challenges.

These suggestions have been curated from a variety of sources, recommended by experts and parents who’ve taken the journey on which you’re about to embark.

  1. Add lighting to your home, and clear all pathways of objects that cause slips, trips, and falls. Use non-slip rugs and mats, especially in the bathroom or other areas with tile floors.

  2. Replace door knobs with handles and faucet knobs with levers.

  3. Install grab bars in the bathroom shower or tub.

  4. Purchase braille or textured tape to label your child’s food to make meal prep easier.

  5. Install cabinet safety locks that work with a magnet release.

Newer homes are built to the universal design specifications, which makes it easier to accommodate older and younger residents — and those with disabilities. This article provides the information you need to know if your home needs more substantive modifications.

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology (AT) includes modified or customized items, equipment, and product systems that help people with disabilities. Thankfully they are many available tools in the world of childcare items. From furniture to adapted clothing, toys, seating, bathing devices and more.

Here are some suggestions for your baby registry:

  • Baby monitors that vibrate and flash; talking baby thermometers.

  • Multiple-use infant slings, trays, seats, and strollers that attach to a wheelchair.

  • A safety belt or parent-child seat belt with different latching options.

  • Devices that help to lift, transfer, carry and hold babies including ones specifically made for a walker that also function as a high chair.

  • A safety harness that provides you with forearm support or a lifting harness that helps you distribute your child’s weight evenly.

  • Car seats and safety belts with specialized release mechanisms to assist those with limited hand strength and dexterity.

  • Bibs with velcro fasteners or rubberized bibs to catch spills.

  • A feeding splint to support your wrist; adaptive feeding spoons, cups, bowls and baby bottles with velcro wraps.

  • Adaptive nursing pillows.

  • Adjustable high chairs that allow you to control the height for feeding or lifting your kiddo that have side-swing trays for easier access.

  • Baby bathtubs with removable slings and contour headrests that you can secure to a movable cart or other surfaces if you’re in a wheelchair; baby bathtubs fitted with a hose.

  • A bath visor to keep soapy water out of your baby’s eyes.

  • Cribs whose entire (or half) side slides sideways to open.

  • Crib gates that slide under the playcare center when it’s opened.

If you’re looking for other specific products, this blog has some great suggestions worth considering.

Setting Up a Support System

Definitely do not shy away from asking for help! When someone offers, accept with gratitude. If you’re asked specifically how someone can help, tell them. And if you’re not sure, ask them for suggestions. Take advantage of someone else’s experiences, because these days — and disabled or not — it does take a village.

Many people want to help, but if you’re given a nebulous “Call if you need anything,” you’re less likely to make a request. Now is not the time to be reluctant to admit that an extra set of hands, a few more meals in the freezer, a cleaning service, or laundry assistance is incredibly welcome!

Parenting with a disability can create a unique set of challenges, but the internet’s made it much easier to find the support you need, whether from friends and family or community organizations. Check out the and, each of which offer extensive resources for new — and experienced — parents and caregivers.

Photo Credit:

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.

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