This blog entry was penned by guest blogger Ashley Taylor of disabledparents.org
Today, more and more people with disabilities are entering into parenthood. In fact, over 6 percent of parents in the US have disabilities and are raising children under the age of 18, according to GPSolo.
Support for new parents who are disabled is growing too. You might, however, still be nervous about bringing home baby. Here is some advice on how to prepare for your new arrival.
Planning For Safety With Home Updates
Caring for your baby when you have a disability may require some planning. In 2013, a survey of mothers who were disabled was conducted by The American Journal of Occupational Therapy. When asked about caregiving, the responses showed that the biggest challenges these new moms faced were night care, bathing, and carrying their babies.
To safely and quickly address all your baby’s needs, you might need to make adaptations or accommodations in your home. These need not be costly or strenuous. Here are some safety changes that can help all parents:
● Install grab bars in tubs and showers to assist in bathing your children. Make sure to purchase the right bathing seat for your child’s height and weight as well.
● Add seamless doorways or shower doors.
● Remove tripping hazards around your home.
● Use non-slip rugs and mats in slippery areas and on ramps.
● Update home safety devices, such as smoke detectors.
Adaptive nursery items can provide parents with much-needed convenience. There are different options available, depending on your needs. For parents who are physically challenged, adaptive baby items include:
● Side-opening cribs.
● Sling baby carriers.
● Swivel-based car seats.
● Adaptive wheelchairs or wheelchair add-ons for carrying your baby.
Here are some adaptations for parents who are visually impaired:
● Label children’s food with textured tape or braille labels for meal preparation.
● Add jingling bells to your baby’s shoes or clothes to help keep track of them.
● Read this article from the National Federation of the Blind for more tips to help blind parents.
Items for parents who are hearing-impaired include:
● Baby monitors like the Babble Band.
● Notifiers or teletypewriters that alert parents when a baby is crying.
Read more must-haves from Disabled Parents.
Thinking Outside The Box
To solve the problems you encounter, you may need to get creative. Modified Mama shares her experience as she became unable to cook for her child. Rather than resort to nightly pizza, she found a solution that kept her child healthy and fit her lifestyle and budget by using a meal-delivery service.
While you can’t always determine every future need, it can be helpful to walk through your home as if you are carrying your baby to discover unforeseen difficulties or obstacles. If you can’t find an existing solution to solve your challenges, you may need to think outside the box and form your own solution. However, it’s important to keep safety at the forefront of your mind at all times. It might be safer to have an item created or customized for you. Certain schools, like the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University, can advise you on where to take these projects.
Reducing Your Stress
Bringing home a new baby is stressful for any parent, but by remembering to take care of your own needs, you can reduce that stress. Take these precautions:
● Get as much rest as you can, but be aware that early infancy provides little sleep for moms.
● Listen to your doctor’s advice on taking care of your postpartum health, and contact him immediately if you start to struggle with depression.
● Remember to eat at least 3 meals a day after you deliver your little one. If you are breastfeeding, stick to a healthy diet to pass on nutrients to your baby.
● Trust your instincts. You and your child will adapt to each other while you are bonding.
Having a disability may make parenting a bit more challenging, but today, you can find the support you need to enjoy life with your baby.