Disabled Parents: How to Prepare for Life with a Baby
Having a baby can be challenging enough but how about preparing for your new arrival and coping with a disability too? Well, this month we’ve got a super guest post from Ashley who writes from her blog disabled parents…
When you first found out you were going to become a parent, you most likely hopped on the internet and started reading up on what to expect. Most people feel a little unprepared for parenthood, which is entirely normal because adjusting to your new role as mum or dad is a huge change. This is true for all new parents, but if you are expecting and you also have a disability, you may wonder if your experience will be the same as other parents. In many ways, it will be, yet you also need some tips and resources that address your unique needs.
Get the Right Tools for Daily Tasks
When you start thinking about setting up your home for your baby, your goal is to make everything accessible for you and safe for the child. Most baby gear can be used with some simple modifications, along with some changes to your home, to make everyday baby-care easier.
Some parents like to use an attached co-sleeper crib when they first bring baby home. This is a great option for safe sleep to keep baby close at hand in those first few weeks. Once baby outgrows the crib, you may want an adapted cot that is designed especially for parents who use wheelchairs.
Baby-wearing is a great way to be mobile while also keeping baby close and remaining hands-free so you have the freedom to do other things too. As baby-wearing has become increasingly popular, there are many different options to choose from. You can read the Wots 4 Tots post all about Baby Sling Libraries UK and Hannah at Wear My Baby and Mel at Wrap a Hug are great options if you’re based in London, offering lots of support and advice for choosing the right carrier and tips for baby-wearing based on your needs. Baby-wearing is great both at home and for being out and about, but you may also want to look for an adaptive stroller.
Simple home modifications can also make it easier to get around safely, which makes day-to-day childcare easier too. For example, remove any loose carpeting or rugs because it can get caught in wheelchair wheels or cause slipping. You may also want to replace door knobs with levers. Door knobs can be difficult to turn if you use a wheelchair, but a lever can be easily pushed down.
It may seem like babies are constantly hungry in those first few weeks when their tummies are still so tiny. If you are able to breastfeed, you may find that it is easier on you than preparing bottles. Whether you decide to bottle feed or breastfeed, take this time before baby arrives to make your kitchen completely accessible so you can prepare meals quickly and easily. When baby gets a little older and starts eating solid food, you might benefit from adaptive cooking tools for meal prep.
Aside from the obvious daily needs like eating and sleeping, preparing your home also involves removing potential safety hazards for a small child. Regardless of your limitations or abilities, it’s a good idea to start with a complete baby-proofing checklist, such as this one from The National Childbirth Trust. All of these items should be checked off before your baby starts crawling. Many parents who have any kind of disability also find that having a playpen gives them peace of mind.
When In Doubt, Consult an Expert
No one should go into parenthood on their own! Some disabled parents choose to get the assistance of an occupational therapist, who can recommend adaptations based on your specific needs. Professionals aren’t the only ones who are experts, though. Parents who have already been there, whether differently abled or not, are the best resources. Reach out to other parents for tips and support, both in person and online. And of course, some of the best experts have four legs. You may want to take a tip from Modified Mama and her service dog!
Raising a child is one of the most challenging and rewarding things in life. Solutions for parenting aren’t one-size-fits-all, even for parents with disabilities. While no family is exactly alike, these tips should give you a starting point for preparing your home and your life for the amazing road to come.