Preparing for a New Baby When You Have a Disability
Taking care of a new baby is an exciting but exhausting job. Midnight feedings, constant diaper
changes and sleep deprivation are just a few challenges that face new parents. When the baby
begins to crawl, it becomes a constant battle to make sure your curious little one can explore
without getting hurt.
But if you’re a parent with a disability, the challenges of caring for a baby can be even more
daunting. Fortunately, a future parent who has a disability can prepare for the baby’s arrival to
make sure the little one has everything required to remain happy, healthy and safe. If you have
a disability and a baby on the way, read on for some important tips.
Talk with Your Doctor
As with any parent, women with disabilities should consult with their doctor and receive regular
prenatal care. Share your medical history with your physician. This is the only way your doctor
can provide you and your unborn child the best care. Your doctor will also give you information
about resources within your community that may assist you once your child is born.
Prepare Your Home
As soon as you know you’re going to have a baby, start preparing your home. Find alternative
methods to care for your baby that will accommodate your disability. For example, if you are
confined to a wheelchair, purchase a side-opening crib. These types of cribs allow you to lift
your baby without needing to stand up.
Buy baby clothing with velcro fasteners. You won’t have to struggle with buttons and snaps.
Practice dressing and undressing a baby doll so that you will be a pro before your bundle of joy
Once your baby learns to crawl or walk, it may be difficult to keep up if you have mobility or
vision issues. Baby-proof your home by covering any unused electrical outlets. Keep cleaning
agents and other poisonous chemicals locked up. And keep your medications in a locked
If your home has steps at the front entrance and you are disabled, replace them with a ramp.
This makes it easier to carry your baby when you’re in a wheelchair. You can easily push
strollers if you have a ramp instead of stairs. Purchase a baby carrier so you can keep your
baby close without using your hands. If your house doesn’t have extra-wide doors, install
expandable hinges so you can quickly get to your baby when he or she cries.
One of the most important items you’ll ever buy for your baby is a car seat. You should select a
car seat based on your child’s size and age. Keep in mind that car seats can’t do their job if you
don’t install them properly. Newborns and infants should always ride in rear-facing car seats.
Children who are two years old or who have outgrown infant car seats can sit in a forward-
facing seat. Kids who weigh more than 40 pounds can sit in a booster seat. Measure the inside
of your backseat to determine if your chosen seat will fit inside your vehicle. If you’re unsure
how to install the seat correctly, contact a Child Passenger Safety technician to install it for you.
Locate these technicians at hospitals, fire departments and police stations.
According to Pregnancy, Birth and Baby, it may be tough to admit you need outside help from
local agencies. But if you have a disability, you may need an extra hand. Before your child
arrives, investigate organizations within the community that offer emotional, financial or hands-
on help to families who have a parent with a disability. Ask family and friends for help too. All
new parents need some help, and most family members and friends will jump at the chance to
give you a hand.
When a baby’s on the way and you have a disability, prepare in advance for the challenges
ahead. Consulting with your doctor, getting your home and car ready, and reaching out for
support will help you take care of your baby despite any limitations.
*** Written by Ashley Taylor for Meridian Counseling
Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.