Much of parenthood involves learning as you go, and that holds true for parents from all walks of life, including those who have a disability. At the same time, welcoming a little one into your life is a huge change, and it requires making some changes around your home, too. Taking the time to prepare now will help you feel ready and make it easier to adapt to the role of parenthood when the time comes.
Preparing Your Home
It’s completely normal to have some jitters about parenthood, especially when you wonder how you will care for a baby with a disability. The good news is that with options for adaptive equipment and online resources at your fingertips, there are ways to overcome just about any parenting challenge. Start by making some simple home modifications that will keep little ones safe and help with childcare skills.
1. Wheelchair accessibility
Your goal with home preparation is to anticipate the daily babycare tasks and find ways to do those effectively. Those primary needs are accessing the baby’s crib, changing diapers and holding and feeding them. Many parents choose to buy an adaptive crib that is accessible in a wheelchair, while others may choose an alternative option for the early days, such as a Moses basket or bassinet. In some cases, you may forgo special baby equipment altogether, like the mom at AbleThrive who recommends using a desk as a changing table.
If you have vision impairment, labelling children’s food with textured tape or Braille labels will make meal preparation easier. Other simple modifications can make everyday care easier such as installing grab bars in tubs and showers will assist in bathing your children.
Other changes around your home may be necessary to ensure your safety, as well as your child’s. Removing any tripping hazards is important in the early days when you will carry your child often, as well as later on once they are toddling. Using non-slip rugs and mats is another way to reduce falling hazards. Preventing falls is one of the top safety concerns with small children, so be sure to childproof your entire home carefully. If you have sight limitations, ask a friend to help with this checklist.
Prepare For the First Few Weeks
In the first few weeks with a newborn, focusing on their needs and trying to get enough sleep while also caring for yourself can feel overwhelming. Plan ahead by stocking your pantry and freezer so you have quick and easy meal options, as well as all household necessities. Gather up anything you need for postpartum care as well. And don’t hesitate to line up help! It still takes a village to raise a child, and all new parents find that enlisting the support of friends and family makes those first few weeks much easier.
Lean on Resources and Connections
Along the same lines, don’t forget that the Internet can be your friend when it comes to finding guidance. Even if you don’t know any other parents who have a disability personally, they are out there. Blind Motherhood is an excellent blog with all kinds of tips and tricks for parenting little ones. If you or your partner use a wheelchair, you can find inspiration from this family featured on She Knows.
While the Internet provides an amazing source for learning from others, don’t let that be the only place where you turn for support. Ask around in local parenting groups to find other parents who have disabilities. Of course, connecting with other parents doesn’t have to be limited to parents with disabilities. Invest in a good baby carrier or find an adaptive stroller so you can get out to parks and play dates. Simply getting out of the house and socializing is important for adapting to parenthood.
Making these connections and preparing your home now will help ease the transition to parenthood. Those early days are exhausting but wonderful, and preparing now will allow you to focus on bonding with your baby. Disability may make your experience of parenthood different in some ways, but that doesn’t have to mean limitations.
Guest post by:
Brisbane, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, & Sydneys Premium Nanny Agency.