Alternately-Able Parents Face Unique Challenges When Bringing Home Baby
People with disabilities are perhaps more able to adjust to life as parents than the rest of us as they as used to making accommodations for themselves. However, limited mobility, cognitive impairment, and missing limbs make the 24/7 care required by an infant difficult to say the least. Thankfully, there are a few ways to prepare for your upcoming bundle of joy regardless of your mental or physical condition.
All new mothers believe they can tackle parenthood with the grace and style portrayed in popular media. But as we all find out immediately, that’s never the case. Be realistic regarding what you can and cannot do on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and family who will likely be overjoyed at the opportunity to be a part of your child’s life. Remember, all parents need help, the type of support you need may simply be different.
You already know that infants need care around the clock. But things able-bodied parents take for granted, you’ll need to plan ahead for. For instance, if you are unable to bend and stoop to give your baby a bath in a traditional bathtub, consider using an infant tub made specifically for the kitchen sink.
Parents around the world employ different techniques when caring for their children. What we view as unusual and even dangerous is perfectly normal to families with different life experiences. And so too must disabled parents learn alternative techniques to provide care for their growing children. Within the vision-impaired community, toddlers are often outfitted with bells so parents can judge their location, according to the National Federation of the Blind. Children in family situations such as this learn to communicate continually with their parents as they get older and venture further and further away at the playground, park, and backyard.
The Arc points out that an individual’s parenting ability is based on a number of factors that have nothing to do with his or her disability. But support services may be necessary, especially in the early days until a routine is established. Examples of support that disabled parents may wish to seek include transportation, assistance with shopping and money management, and help learning to deal with doctors. The National Council on Disability provides more in-depth information on support services available to disabled parents in this publication.
Even if you have a disability, you’ll still need to take many of the same measures as able-bodied parents, in order to keep your child safe at home. Start with baby proofing the entire house and don’t wait until after the child is born. Ensure his or her crib is in a safe area well away from electrical cords and window treatments. Add locks and childproof handles to medicine cabinets and cupboards. If possible, get down on the floor and look at the room from a toddler’s perspective. You may be surprised at how many sharp corners are lurking about that pose a potential threat once the baby becomes mobile. RedFin’s 12 Ways to Baby Proof Your Home on a Budget offers additional suggestions on preparing your home for a new family member.
General Home Safety
In addition to special accommodations, it’s also a good idea to take care of general home maintenance and safety tasks in the nine months before his or her arrival. Check your fire extinguisher and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for functionality. Secure heavy furniture and televisions to the wall using tip-resistant furniture brackets.
Visit the American Psychological Association for more information and resources for parents with disabilities.
You can also visit Ashley's website here: disabledparents.org