Make Your Home Safe for You and Your Baby
By Guest Writer: Ashley Taylor (Disabledparents.org)
Most people would agree that raising children is the most rewarding activity of their lives, and disabled parents are no exception. Bringing home a new baby represents a challenge. But, new technologies have made raising a child much easier for someone with mobility issues. So. let’s talk about how to make your home safe for you and your baby.
Even parents confined to a wheelchair can do all the day-to-day care for a new baby with careful planning and some specialized equipment.
There are a surprising number of online resources for disabled parents. You can learn from the clever solutions employed by other disabled parents who have successfully raised babies.
Financial resources may include Social Security benefits. If you or your spouse receives Social Security Disability Insurance, your child will likely qualify for benefits also. If you are disabled as a result of kidney failure, your child will likely qualify for Medicare.
Plan for the day-to-day tasks you will need to perform for your baby. Buy baby clothes that are zippered and/or have velcro fasteners. Clothes with easy fasteners will be easier to put on a moving infant. Avoid baby clothes with built-in booties because these are difficult to fit onto kicking legs. Socks can be applied separately with much more ease.
Consider the many benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfed babies are, in general, more resistant to infections, especially ear infections. The United States Department of Health and Human Services also reports that breastfed babies are at lower risk of developing asthma, leukemia, and obesity.
Breastfeeding is also easier. You don’t have to worry about nutrients. They’re all there. Nor do you have to worry about the temperature of the bottle. Breastfeeding, in other words, eliminates all the work of bottle feeding, and it makes you and your baby happier.
Consider how you will feed your baby solid food and how you will bathe your baby. If you are in a wheelchair, for instance, you will need the baby’s feeding station to be the right height. Modified computer tables work for many parents. Experts recommend a do-it-yourself accessible baby bathtub. To assemble one of these, you need a regular baby bath from any department store, a computer table, and a garden hose.
Here are some other recommended items for parents with mobility limitations:
- Chest baby harness
- Breastfeeding sling
- Side-opening cribs
- Car seat with swivel base
It’s important not to neglect the general home safety guidelines that all parents should follow. Make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are all in good working order. These safety devices should be present in bedrooms, the baby’s room, living room, and kitchen.
Be sure that you and your family devise a fire exit plan that accounts for the baby. Appoint someone to pick up the baby and then exit the house. Once the baby comes home, you should practice this escape plan at least twice a year, according to American Red Cross guidelines.
Make sure that light-weight fire extinguishers are within reach and that you know how to use them. Read the instructions carefully and visualize yourself using the extinguisher.
If you have any pieces of furniture or a television that could topple onto you or your crawling baby, strap them down or mount them to the wall or floor. Nightstands, small tables, and even sets of drawers frequently fail the tip test.
There are many resources and products that make caring for a baby much easier. Connect with other disabled parents for more information and budget for specialized equipment that will accommodate mobility limitations.