Parenthood is an amazing gift and an exhilarating adventure eagerly anticipated by expectant parents. Regardless of whether you have a disability, it’s absolutely essential to prepare yourself for your baby’s arrival. People with mobility limitations, sight issues, hearing problems, or other disabilities can especially benefit from simple preparations. Don’t leave yourself scrambling for solutions to childcare challenges at the last minute. If you’re ready to prepare, here are some practical tips from Community Partners to get you started.
Declutter Your Home
There are several great reasons to declutter your home before your baby arrives. For one thing, simplified homes are much easier to maintain. This means you can spend less time tackling housework and more time with your little one. Getting rid of things will also make room for your new baby equipment, toys, and other necessary items that can quickly impede your mobility. Maneuvering a wheelchair or walker around indoors is already cumbersome as it is! If there are items cluttering your home that you just can’t get rid of right now, consider renting a short-term storage unit to house your possessions.
Take Safety Precautions
Chances are, you’ve already modified your home for your personal safety and accessibility. Now that a baby is coming, you have to think about possible new hazards that may exist in your home environment. According to Parents.com, household injuries are one of the most common reasons young children take a trip to the emergency room.
If possible, get down on your hands and knees and explore your home from the vantage point of your future child. You can get a friend or your spouse to do this for you if you’re unable to crawl. Take note of any hazards you see, such as exposed wall sockets, power strips, and coffee table corners. Furniture that could tip over, like TVs, bookshelves, and dressers, should be secured to the wall. If you store any of your kitchen items — such as cutlery, knives, and cleaning chemicals — near the floor for your own ease of access, make sure these are locked away in cupboards.
Take note of this childproofing checklist for more tips, and invest now in bumpers for sharp corners and safety latches. It will mean fewer things to worry about once your baby is on the move. You may need to hire help to get your home fully childproofed. If this isn’t an affordable expense, refinancing your home could help you pay for these modifications. Make sure to discuss your options with a reputable lender before moving forward.
Find or Make Accessible Baby Equipment
If you’re having trouble finding accessible baby gear, make your own! Many disabled parents have successfully adapted a normal crib to open from the side so that it’s wheelchair accessible. These accessible cribs have doors that can be pulled open easily like a cupboard and secured with latches at the bottom when closed. Do not get a drop-side crib since these can be dangerous for safety reasons.
You should be able to find some additional accessible baby equipment in stores or online:
- one-hand foldable strollers
- strollers that clip onto wheelchairs
- baby-carrying slings
- nursing pillows
- swiveling car seats
Set up a Support Network
Every parent can benefit from a solid support network to turn to when things get overwhelming. Ask your friends and family if they would be willing to lend a hand when you need some time to take care of yourself or just to relax for a bit. Research shows that new parents are prone to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Turning to your loved ones during this stressful time is crucial for maintaining your mental health and avoiding the feelings of isolation commonly experienced by busy parents.
Disabled parents often come across unique challenges that many other parents don’t even have to think about. For this reason, it’s useful to know where to go for advice. There are a few notable websites, such as the Disabled Parenting Project, where you can find helpful tips and DIY guides from others who have found solutions to the same obstacles you may be facing. For example, you’ll find tips on getting your baby in and out of a car seat, nursing your baby comfortably, and advice on playing with your children from a wheelchair.
Make Work Arrangements
You might be concerned that working a 9 to 5 while raising a newborn baby will be too overwhelming. A great option these days is to start your own at-home ecommerce business, an option that works well for parents and people with disabilities because it can turn into a passive income stream that requires little time for upkeep. As you prepare for the birth of your child, you can start your ecommerce business while you continue to work your current job. Then, once your baby arrives, focus on your business as your full-time source of income. Just be sure to take the necessary steps to make your business legitimate. The first should be taking steps to form an LLC. To start an LLC in Washington you can use an online formation service. An LLC will allow you to protect your personal assets from any business debts and makes it possible to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) so that you can get a business bank account and hire employees as your business grows.
Welcoming a new baby into the world is an experience you will never forget. Don’t let your anxieties about first-time parenthood dampen your excitement. Make those home adaptations, find the perfect baby equipment, create a mental health plan, take some basic childcare classes, and make work arrangements. The more you learn and prepare beforehand, the more ready you’ll be for the big day when your little one finally arrives.
Article by Ed Carter