Many parents plan, hope, and dream of having a baby for months and even years. But when the time comes and you’re faced with getting your home and life ready, it can feel like a daunting task. If you’re a soon-to-be parent and you also have a disability, you may need to make some adaptations to your home and gear so that caring for your little one fits your needs.
Preparing Your House
A baby is small, but their arrival has a pretty big impact on your home. Start now by preparing the gear and baby’s room and play spaces. A comprehensive baby gear list can be overwhelming, so consult a good list while also keeping in mind your own lifestyle, and using it as a general guide rather than a list of absolute necessities. If you have a physical disability, some equipment may need to be adapted, but the good news is that there are many adaptive technologies out there today to make independent parenting easier than ever. Consult DisabledParents.org for their “Must-Have” adaptive gear options for different needs.
To prepare the best you can, think about your abilities and what kind of tools would help make the daily tasks of parenting easier. A study in The American Journal of Occupational Therapy reported that mothers with physical disabilities found night care, carrying their baby, and bathing to be their biggest challenges. The researchers suggest that adaptive furniture to meet these needs and carriers like a sling to “wear” your baby are some of the best ways parents can do these tasks independently.
Along with setting up your home and prepping equipment, baby-proofing for safety is essential. Some of the biggest household safety hazards are cleaning chemicals and medicine. Move any of these hazards to cabinets out of baby’s reach, or use baby-proofing locks on cabinets. Parents recommends magnetic locks because they’re easy to use and don’t run the risk of pinched fingers. Another hazard to little ones is the risk of large furniture and televisions falling on them, especially once they start pulling up and toddling. You can find special straps that make it easy to secure these. This is also a great time to check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries, and make sure you have fire extinguishers throughout the house that are easy to access.
Preparing for the First Days
Expectant parents often go into nesting mode, and it’s as practical as it is emotional to prep your home and life for the early days with baby. Take the time to get baby’s clothes and blankets washed and put away so everything is ready. The immediate postpartum period is a huge adjustment and can be exhausting, so plan ahead by making and freezing meals. If any family members or friends will be coming to help, go ahead and get the guest room ready for their arrival. If you have someone close to you who you can count on, don’t be afraid to ask for help. No matter how well prepared you are, bringing home a baby is an enormous change for everyone, and the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” is still true!
Your home isn’t the only thing you need to prepare for baby. Start now to prepare your budget for the immediate expenses of baby’s needs and for their future. NerdWallet is a great resource for a detailed list of financial to-do’s before and after baby’s arrival. For a parent with a disability, if you receive Social Security disability benefits, your baby may be eligible to receive them too, so look into those resources.
Preparing your home and life for this big adjustment doesn’t have to be scary. Start with these resources now to get your home and life ready, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help, so you will be well-prepared to welcome baby with joy and peace of mind.
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