When you’re getting ready to have a baby, you’re bound to feel waves of emotions, everything from awe to fear.  Preparation can help reduce those anxieties so you can focus on the good stuff. Read on for great ideas to help future moms and dads with disabilities.  

Straight off the shelf.  What are your specific needs as a parent?  We live in a world with a wide variety of baby products available right at our fingertips, thanks to the internet.  With a little ingenuity, you can often find items that will fit your needs without any tweaking. Contemplate your dexterity, mobility, and any devices you use, and bear those things in mind when searching for baby equipment.  

For example, there are numerous babywearing options, such as harnesses and slings, which can keep you comfortable and your infant safe.  If your sight is limited, closures with an audible “snap” can help you rest assured they are secure.  Hook-and-loop closures are a help to many moms and dads, and they are available on everything from bottle holders to bibs. Before equipping your nursery with toys, cribs, baby gates or strollers, research online product reviews to find the best products to suit your circumstances.

Just for you.  Some studies indicate many parents with disabilities find working with an occupational therapist is a great way to ensure equipment meets personal needs, or to learn how to use equipment differently to stay safe and comfortable.  Depending on your situation, there is a variety of assistive devices readily available to meet your needs.  Parents who use wheelchairs can use strollers which connect to the frame of the wheelchair, and those who have trouble bending can get strollers which are set higher.  

Some parents whose mobility is limited choose to have a crib modified to meet their unique needs.  For instance, it can be made to have French doors which swing open instead of a door that slides down.  This can also be a useful idea for moms or dads who get tired or need to sit when playing with their little one, since a parent can interact comfortably with the doors opened.  Another suggestion is to find a crib on castors so it can roll to you.  Castors can also be added to some cribs.  Keep in mind cribs made of wood are easier to modify than those made of most other materials.  For instance, you can cut down legs to make the crib shorter if necessary.

Home, sweet (accessible!) home.  Oftentimes, people with disabilities live in traditionally-styled homes that might not be optimal for their situation.  Making a few simple changes before your baby comes along can mean easing parenthood challenges in many ways, allowing you to focus more on your little one and less on clumsy designs or inefficient navigation.

Universal design offers some great concepts for making your home environment more accessible.  Consider replacing door knobs and faucet knobs with lever-style handles, and swap your traditional light switches for rocker-style ones.  Motion-activated lights are also convenient, turning on when you enter a room and shutting off when you leave.  Many people benefit from homes without stairs or steps as well, and wider doorways can be a big benefit for those who use wheelchairs, canes, or walkers.  Also pay attention to the exterior of your home, since pushing a stroller can become complicated if the terrain is difficult. You can use a home accessibility checklist to help determine what specific changes might be helpful for you.

Having a disability presents unique challenges to moms and dads, but a little preparation can go a long way toward ensuring you and your little one are comfortable and safe.  Look for products to make your life easier, and modify what you need to so parenthood is a breeze. Thanks to your smart planning, you’ll be confident and equipped!

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