Accessible Parenting Suggestions for When You Have a Child


It’s virtually a ceremony of passage for brand spanking new mother and father to spend time researching one of the best child gear, establishing the nursery, and questioning simply how a lot life will change with the addition of their infant.

If in case you have a bodily incapacity, it’s no completely different. You simply might need to switch a few of the customary child tools to be just right for you or use it in numerous methods than different mother and father.

“Parenting is identical whether or not you’ve got a incapacity or not,” says Tammy Rayess, an occupational therapist and mother of two who has cerebral palsy and makes use of a wheelchair. “You’re simply doing issues in a nontraditional method.”

“The problem is there actually aren’t these adaptive merchandise in the marketplace,” says Nicole Lomerson, a mother with cerebral palsy and a researcher on the Nationwide Analysis Middle for Dad and mom with Disabilities at Brandeis College. “However disabled mother and father are actually wonderful downside solvers, and we discover a method.”

“We modify issues. We make issues work,” says Kara Ayers, PhD, affiliate director of the College of Cincinnati Middle for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, a researcher on the Nationwide Analysis Middle for Dad and mom with Disabilities, and mom of three. 

Ayers and her husband each use wheelchairs as a result of osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic illness that impacts their bones. She’s seen that many instances, adaptive merchandise like wheelchair strollers can have nice buzz as a prototype, however by no means truly make it to the market. Different instances, she says the product will come from a medical tools firm and be very costly or want insurance coverage approval, which could be a problem.

Even with a scarcity of child merchandise aimed toward disabled mother and father, mother and father with all varieties of bodily disabilities can discover methods to make caring for a child and toddler extra accessible.

“Adaptive tools has an important position for fogeys with bodily limitations,” Rayess says. “It may take away obstacles and empower mother and father to take part absolutely within the care of their youngster to the total extent of their skills.”


“I knew a wheelchair-accessible crib can be my largest hurdle,” Lomerson says. Because the two accessible cribs in the marketplace on the time have been very expensive, she discovered a hand-me-down crib that one other mother along with her incapacity had made wheelchair-friendly.

Tammy Rayess’s husband engineered and rebuilt their daughters’ crib. “At the moment, we weren’t conscious of any kind of instruction for this,” Rayess says. “He put weeks of design and construct time into that crib.”

Now, you’ll find plans on-line for tactics to lift a typical crib to wheelchair top and add a sliding gate or door so you may decide your child up by the aspect of the crib as a substitute of reaching down into it. Ensure the gate locks on the surface and is childproof.

Cradles that connect to your mattress, known as co-sleepers, are a terrific possibility for the primary few months. They’re particularly helpful in case you have restricted attain or hassle getting out and in of mattress.

Montessori-style bedding, which places a crib mattress on the ground of a childproof room, could be a good possibility when your child will get greater, Ayers says.


A typical altering desk may be difficult in case you use a wheelchair. Rayess made her personal utilizing a canine grooming desk with a altering pad hooked up to the highest. The desk was sturdy and allowed her to wheel beneath and alter diapers in a snug place. A desk is one other good possibility in case you use a wheelchair. 

Many mother and father with disabilities merely change their infants on the ground, sofa, or mattress, Ayers says.

If in case you have challenges together with your skill to maneuver, she says it’s good to maintain diapering provides in a number of areas of your property so that you don’t have to hold your child to a different room when it’s time for a change.

If in case you have a incapacity that impacts your fantastic motor management, search for child garments with magnetic closures as a substitute of snaps.

Automotive Seats

“The load of the automobile seat was at all times a priority for me,” Ayers says. “We largely deliberate to maintain automobile seats within the automobile.”

For those who plan to hold your child in an toddler automobile seat, search for one on the lighter finish. Some types have wheels that come out to show them into brief strollers.

Rotating or swivel automobile seats could make it extra comfy to get your youngster out and in of the automobile.



If in case you have hassle together with your fingers or fantastic motor management, child system dispensers and bottles designed to be propped on the infant will help you with feedings. A grape cutter can also be helpful: It lets you shortly quarter grapes with one hand.

Typical excessive chairs with their large legs didn’t work for Rayess along with her wheelchair.“It’s very arduous to get your chair shut sufficient to that state of affairs with out doing acrobatics and unhealthy physique mechanics, and many alternatives in your children to throw meals at you.”

She discovered {that a} transportable excessive chair that straps onto a folding chair or kitchen chair labored nicely.


Bathing a slippery child is hard for anybody.

“A variety of mother and father with disabilities find yourself bathing with the kid,” Ayers says. “The much less it’s a must to attain and the much less the hole between you and the kid is usually actually useful.”

Rayess would bathe her daughters in a child tub on her bathe bench.

A shower visor that retains water and shampoo from getting in your child’s eyes could make it simpler to clean your child’s hair.

For fogeys with low sensation or imaginative and prescient, an audible water thermometer that beeps if the tub water is just too scorching or chilly is a useful security machine.


For Lomerson, sporting her daughter in a child service was simpler than determining how you can connect a stroller to her wheelchair. However in case you’re helpful, you’ll find concepts on-line for tactics so as to add stroller attachments to your chair. As soon as your child can sit up, you may as well use a large belt, a wheelchair calf strap, seatbelt, or perhaps a robust scarf to safe them to your lap.

At house, nursing pillows are helpful for supporting your child in your lap.

If in case you have again ache or hassle bending over, an adjustable-height stroller is an efficient possibility.

If in case you have trunk weak point, a harness in your youngster will help you elevate them off the ground. You might additionally use a swaddle blanket or a light-weight basket like a conveyable accent carryall to select your child up with one hand.

Out and About

“Reside life off the sidewalk” is Rayess’s private motto. It took on a good greater which means when she had children. Transportable ramps assist give her entry when she travels or takes her daughters locations that aren’t wheelchair-friendly. She additionally switched to a motorized chair after turning into a mother, with the intention to higher sustain along with her children.

In the case of protecting toddlers protected in parking heaps or crowded locations, Ayers and Rayess say there’s nothing improper with placing your youngster on a “leash” or a backpack harness that you just maintain onto.

“I believe security and safety is way more necessary than individuals being judgmental about it,” Ayers says.

Powder or spray sunscreen is less complicated to use to children than lotion in case you have a poor grip or points with fantastic motor management.

Sensible House

Rayess likes to automate as a lot as she will in her house to permit her to spend extra power on her children. Sensible house expertise can automate issues like curtains, thermostats, lights, audio system, home windows, and locks all of which may save time and are extra accessible.

“Finally it is the identical parenting expertise,” Rayess says. “It is falling in love unconditionally. That love carries you thru all of the challenges that each father or mother faces. Dad and mom with disabilities simply get the chance to assume out of the field, kick down obstacles, and promote inclusion.”


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