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Prepping Your Home for Parenthood

Prepping Your Home for Parenthood:
A Guide for People with Disabilities

Prepping Your Home for Parenthood

Image courtesy of Pixabay

People with disabilities often face special challenges in parenting.  Bringing home a baby is scary for anyone, and you want to provide the best possible environment for raising your child.  With some ingenious modifications, you can be a successful and confident parent. 

Here are some great ideas.

Standard practices and equipment. It’s important for all families to do some baby-proofing and install basic safety equipment in the home.

  • Anchor unstable objects and furniture such as bookcases, televisions and dressers to the floor so that exploring babies can’t topple them over. 
  • Secure the cords on window coverings, lamps, and other objects. 
  • Keep the crib free of blankets, pillows and stuffed animals; they present suffocation hazards.
  • Put stickers on floor-level windows so your baby doesn’t try to crawl through them.
  • Put latches on toilet lids, cabinet doors, and other doors.
  • Attach bumpers on sharp or hard corners.
  • Block access to heaters.
  • Remove any choking hazards and small objects from floor-reach.
  • Safely stow valuables and breakables. 
  • Store chemicals and dangerous substances on high shelving or in locked cabinets.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers in accordance with government guidelines.

Special equipment. Many gadgets are available to help support you as a parent. NI Direct offers some great suggestions for creative devices you might consider:

  • Strollers and pushchairs that are easy to manipulate and lightweight; you can attach them to a wheelchair, and they are easy to fold and offer adjustable heights and a separate carrier. 
  • Intercom systems with flashing alarms for hearing impaired parents.
  • Harnesses with simple clips and straps in contrasting colors for visually impaired parents.
  • Trays and highchairs with easy-to-adjust heights, designed to be sturdy so they don’t tip over easily. They also come apart for easy cleaning and with simple to manipulate straps and clips. 
  • Cribs which are adapted to offer adjustable heights and removeable side panels.

Adapting practices. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, many parents creatively adapt their habits and modify traditional parenting methods with great success. Some of the innovations you could try:

  • Sleep alongside your baby to make nighttime diaper changes and feedings easier.
  • If you can’t safely bathe your child, that duty could fall to your significant other.
  • Some parents are able to bathe alongside the child.
  • Adapt a scarf, sweatshirt, or similar carrying device to carry your baby; alter your method as the child grows.
  • Some children adapt to methods that may seem awkward initially; the child modifies his or her behavior by latching onto the parent’s arm, shoulder, etc.
  • Some parents benefit from occupational therapy to help with specific issues, such as pushing a stroller or lifting a child in and out of a vehicle.

Modifying your home. There may be home alterations that would make parenting easier for you. You might require grab bars added in a new room or a wheelchair lift to be able to navigate more efficiently. Sometimes parents are able to manage a small baby well, but chasing a toddler presents concerns. There are several grants available to fund home modifications. Even if you rent your home, experts advise that you are still entitled to accommodations.

While parenting with a physical disability can present challenges, there are many solutions available to you.  Be creative and think about what you can alter to accommodate your needs.  Be sure to incorporate standard baby-proofing elements into your home, and add any special equipment or modifications you will require.  Parenting may be challenging, but it’s an extraordinary and fulfilling experience.  With the right preparations, you will be set up for success!

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