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.
Preparing for a baby is a big job; there are so many details to think about and plan for that it can be a bit overwhelming, even if you have help. For individuals who are living with a disability, adding these plans to everyday struggles can be extremely stressful, and that stress can lead to anxiety or even depression.
It’s important, then, to consider your specific needs and think of the best ways you can make things go smoothly throughout the entire process. Think about details like handling the infant carrier, changing the baby’s diaper, cleaning, and putting the baby down in a crib or bassinet. Depending on your abilities and ease of mobility, these may be things that you’ll need to do a little differently than everyone else. As long as it’s comfortable for both you and baby, that’s all that matters.
Here are a few tips on how to prepare for the arrival of your baby.
One of the best ways to help things go smoothly is to garner support from friends and family. Having help during the first few weeks of parenthood will do you a world of good and will allow you to be at your best. You might ask someone to act as a pet-sitter while you’re in the hospital or have someone pick up dinner to bring over on your first night home. There are many different ways your loved ones can be of assistance, so don’t be afraid to ask.
It’s a good idea to practice as much as you can before the baby arrives. Whether it’s figuring out the carseat, learning how to quickly open up the stroller while also holding a diaper bag (and possibly the baby), or making up bottles, practicing now will help build your confidence for when the time comes.
Getting your home ready for a new baby entails quite a bit of work, so planning ahead will help you feel prepared. Aside from setting up a nursery or area where the baby will sleep and can be changed, you’ll need to think about what your new schedule will be like. Having a newborn in the home changes everything, so making things as easy as possible is key. This might mean setting up a bottle station where you can prepare and clean them, or having an area near your bed that can hold tissues, a portable changing station, extra wipes, a water bottle (especially if you’re breastfeeding, as you’ll need to stay hydrated), and a baby monitor. Having all those things within reach will really come in handy when you’re up in the middle of the night for feedings.
Install a carbon monoxide detector if your home doesn’t already have one, and check all the smoke alarms to make sure they’re in good working order. Secure any large pieces of furniture – dressers, bookshelves, etc. – to the wall to prevent tipping. You may also think about the way furniture is arranged, especially if you require a wheelchair or other equipment. It’s possible to make your mobility a priority and keep things safe for the baby at the same time, but it might take a little planning. For some great tips on how to get started with babyproofing, head over to Redfin.com.
Part of being prepared is knowing what you’ll need both at the hospital and for the trip home. Get familiar with the car seat and install it before your due date so you won’t have to worry about it. Make a packing list and include any medications or equipment you might need while you’re away, and do the same for your spouse or partner if they’ll be staying with you. Read on here for a baby checklist that will help you prepare.
Talking to other parents who are living with a disability is a great way to find support when you need it most, so look online for support groups or discussion boards, and keep communication open with your partner so that the two of you will be on the same page.