Pretty much everybody knows about the ‘nesting’ phase when you’re awaiting the arrival of a little one. Whether that phase be from the word “Congratulations!” or a few days before the big day, nobody escapes that need to make sure everything is ready! The same goes for parents with the added challenge of a disability and/ chronic illness. It may shock a lot of people who aren’t part of this minority community, but there are next to NO products out on the market that were specifically designed for parenting with any form of impairment. Leaving myself and the growing amount of adults with disabilities who go on to have families either;
a) Asking friends or relative with DIY skills to actually build baby furniture and such to aid them in day-to-day life as a disabled parent.
b) Having more involvement from able-bodied persons than they actually would of needed if only there were more catered products on the market!
In an effort to help enable new parents to overcome their limitations given the right tools, I’ve compiled a list of products, tips and information that COULD save a lot of struggling. A lot of which I have used myself in my journey raising my 2 little girls.
DISCLAIMER: Everybody’s limitations are different, so keep in mind when you’re scrolling through that some of what’s listed may not be suitable. This post is simply some suggestions for products that may or may not make life easier for parenting with various disabilities or chronic illnesses. It is upto you to determine their suitability to your specific needs and circumstances. Thank you for reading ☺️
1. The holy grail furniture piece for parents with disabilities; an accessible cot.
|(IMAGE: A drop side bedside cot and a standard cot with swing out rail)|
A safe place for baby to sleep is the first major furniture piece that comes to mind for any new Mum-to-be, but if you’re a wheelchair user a standard cot is pretty inaccessible! Pictured above are the two types of cots parents tend to get. The bedside cot is the Chicco™ Next 2 Me co-sleeper, designed for the newborn – 6 month age as its recommended by top Paediatricians that baby stay in your room, easy to access but not actually in your bed. With the Next 2 Me design, it has one side dropped so you can simply lock it to your bed frame (it IS height adjustable!) and simply reach over to scoop up or check on baby without having to get up. Baby has their own cot but it’s essentially like a mini extention to your own bed. Originally designed for post c-section Mum’s, yet equally ideal for a Mum who struggles to lift, bend or with mobility in general!
The second image is of an adapted standard cot with a “gate” (if you will lol) that swings outwards to access baby. It has also been raised to allow wheelchair clearance underneath. There ARE website you can buy these specialised cots from but the cost is upwards of $3000 (yes I said $ as for some reason they’re all in the US). Many wheelchair users find it more cost effective and practical to get it to meet their needs exactly by buying a standard cot and asking someone they know who’s good at DIY to adapt it.
2. Containing the child, yet still keeping your freedom!
|(IMAGE: Two versions of trip-free safety gates)|
Finding the right safety gate was exhausting when my two were tiny. It needed to be step, free and I needed the lock to be tricky enough so a toddler couldn’t undo it but not need a lot of hand strength so I could actually lock and unlock it. Eventually, after searching Googles entire directory it felt like I came across these two. Safetots™ Screw Fit Stair Gate (that you can use on doorways etc too). I liked this because it extended to any door width because if you have widened doorways in your home, a standard gate wouldn’t fit. Found that out the hard way! Plus it had no bar on the bottom and screwed into the wall. However I couldn’t do the lock. That’s where the Remap came to the rescue! (Carry on until the end of this post to read about the charity 👍). The other gate, that resembles a roller blind on its side is by BabyDan™ called the Guard Me Fold baby gate. I love how it is again, trip-free and wheelchair friendly, screwing to the wall or stairway but also because as you retract it.. It folds leaving so much more room to maneuver!
3. Striking the balance between child-proofing and not locking yourself out in the process.
|(IMAGE: 4 variations of cupboard child-proof locks)|
Just like the safety gate issue, if you’ve got hand strength and/ co-ordination problems that make locking and unlocking difficult, then baby proofing your home will be a lot of trial and error. Luckily there are SO many different options for many many child-proofing needs. I’ve pictured 4 different kitchen cupboard locks as an example. I can’t recommend one piece over the other because only You know your abilities/limitations. I will say though, definitely keep your receipts so if you find they aren’t working for you, you can get a refund to try another brand or type.
4. Care essentials!
|(IMAGE: Summer Infant™ Baby Care Kit contents)|
I cannot RAVE enough about the Summer Infant™ baby care kit! It has saved me a small fortune because of how many different medicine applicators are included. Inside the kit you get;
- Baby hair brush + comb ✔️
- Baby nail clippers and scissors ✔️
- Nasal aspirator (yep! Babies need help getting rid of their boogies 🤢) ✔️
- Standard + bath thermometers ✔️
- Finger toothbrush ✔️
- Tweezers ✔️
- Measuring medicine spoon ✔️
- Measuring medicine dropper ✔️
I kid you not, when I lost those baby nail clippers, I bought a whole new kit JUST to have those nail clippers. They’re the only ones I’ve ever been able to use due to limited finger strength. The fact the kit comes with a measuring spoon and dropper that the dosage is measured in the handle part not the tip is brilliant if you’re a bit shaky. Way easier than using a rubbish Calpol spoon!
5. Minimising unnecessary trips to check on baby.
|(IMAGE: Two kinds of baby monitors. A video + audio one and a sound to vibration monitor)|
I know a lot of parents think having more than just a standard audio monitor or simply listening out for baby is all that’s really needed, but I think having the extra bit of reassurance when it’s harder for you getting up to go check is a real life-line! I bought a video + audio monitor right away because I wanted that peace of mind. I could then keep a close eye on my girls while they were in another room and if they started to whimper I could tell if it was because their dummy had popped out or if they were just restless. Pictured is the Motarola Night Vision baby monitor. I LOVE how you can pan the entire room, it has a built in room temperature detector, 3 soothing lullabies, 2-way communication so I could tell my little one I was getting in my wheelchair and on my way! It enabled me to care for them when I wasn’t right next to them. Yes, they ARE an awful lot of money but just think of how much it’d be worth it knowing by just looking at a screen while baby’s sleeping that they are safe.
A great option for deaf or hard of hearing parents is the Sonic Alert Baby Crying Signaler, it links up to the Sonic Boom Alarm Clock – a vibrating device that tucks under your pillow or mattress which will vibrate from your alarm clock, doorbell and more (which many people have provided from the RNID).
6. Matching matters!
|(IMAGE: Colourino Talking Colour + Light Detector handheld device)|
Who doesn’t love dressing their baby up in the many cute baby outfits you bought during your pregnancy? But matching items for the perfect outfit of the day is a struggle if you’re visually impaired. Enter the Colourino Talking Colour + Light Detector! A handy handheld device that you can scan almost any item/object with and it will tell you the colour. With 150 built-in detectable colours and shades. It can also detect whether a lamp or ceiling light is on or off!
**7. Save your pennies! Make way for the *ULTIMATE* Winner of nursing pillows!**
|(IMAGE: Clevamama™ 10-in-1 Clevacushion in colourful polkadot print)|
I went through 3 standard feeding pillows all claiming to be the *BEST* ones before I found the Clevamama 10-in-1 Clevacushion. Since then, I never looked back! The crescent shaped pillow is firm enough that baby wouldn’t sink into it and need constant re-adjusting (as I noted with the ever popular Boppy™ pillow). You can use it as a feeding pillow, tummy time, extra support in the highchair or pram and so much more. Saving you money on other supports you’d need as baby gets older. I particularly liked the fact it has a buckle strap for around your back so when feeding, if you repositioned then the pillow stays perfectly in place!
8. Another reason to fall in love with Ikea.
|(IMAGE: 3 Ikea baby changing unit examples)|
I wish I’d of discovered the great choice of change tables IKEA had to offer when my girls were that little. My partner ended up making me a wheelchair-friendly one out of an old computer desk from a local charity shop. It did the job mind you, but I was still a little sad that those standard changing stations you see in Mothercare and such with all that storage underneath, wasn’t practical for a wheelchair user. In fact we went to 6 different stores that do baby gear and not one had anything with space underneath to accommodate my legs. The beauty of IKEA change tables is the part of the table you lay baby on are mostly vertical, instead of horizontal. Therefore creating leg room underneath. They’re all made of wood so you could take the shelving out, unlike the popular plastic units. There’s many to choose from! I particularly recommend HENSVIC Changing Cabinet if you’re a powerchair user as it’s a tad higher than the others. The changing top is also removable so when your child no longer needs it, it converts to a lovely bookshelf or side cabinet.
9. You thought swivel seats were only for drivers? Think again…
|(IMAGE: ISOFIX™ fitted in a car with compatible convertible car seat)|
This car seat is on a swivel base known as a ISOFIX™. The base is permanently fixed in the vehicle, allowing you to swivel the seat to allow easier access getting your little one in and out. It makes securing an infant bucket seat a breeze, with a simple click. Saving you having to bend in and over baby and readjust the seat belt. You do however need to make sure that the car seat you purchase is ISOFIX compatible (which a lot are now days thankfully!)
10. A buggy is a form of chair too is it not?
|(IMAGE: A mobility scooter being lifted into the boot by a hoist inside)|
If you’re a wheelchair user and already use a boot hoist to pick up your wheelchair to put in the back of your vehicle, you can use it to put your babys pram/buggy in too! Or if this isn’t a feature you currently have, your car dealership should be able to point you in the right direction of getting a hoist installed.
11. Your back is worth it!
|(IMAGE: Stokke™ travel system showing interchangeable car seat, carry cot or buggy seat)|
Stokke™ travel systems are expensive yes, but for someone who struggles to bend to lift their little one in and out. The cost could be very much be worth it. The design was made with the parents comfort and back in mind, intentionally bringing the seat to a higher level than most prams. It is height adjustable and the travel system makes it easy to switch seat interfaces to what suits baby’s needs and age. It can parent or world face and the handlebar is also adjustable. A win win!
|(IMAGE: Stokke® Tripp Trapp® adjustable feeding chair)|
On the same way length of items that bring the child higher up, Stokke’s Tripp Trapp® chair would be another good investment. Its modern, easy to clean, can be used from birth onwards if you purchase the baby seat and it’ll last all the way to the teen years!
12. Sometimes “old school” methods are the best ones…
|(IMAGE: Smiling baby, propped in infant bath support in a sink)|
Your Grandmother did it and your Mum probably did it from time to time with you too! Bathing baby in the kitchen sink is ideal because it saves you from bending and is easy to drain afterwards. Standard baby baths are often impractical and cumbersome. A wheelchair user could clear out under the kitchen sink to make way for their foot rests to allow more independent bathing. There are a few different baby supports on the market that can fit inside your bog standard size sink too.
13. Gadgets are your friend, nomatter how you choose to feed your bundle of joy!
|(IMAGE: Tommee Tippee™ Perfect Prep bottle maker, Medela™ Electric breast pump and a Avent™ travel formula dispenser)|
I think many people nowdays prefer electronic versions of gadgets over manual, the same could be said more so for people with disabilities. Here we have two electronics that focus on preparing baby milk. First there’s the Tommee Tippee™ Perfect Prep Machine. This is ideal for preparing formula by taking away the danger of handling a boiling kettle and self measuring. You simply turn the dial how many oz’s a bottle you’re making and click start. Add pre-measured formula from a handy travel milk powder dispenser, such as the Avent™ Baby Formula Travel Dispenser (Pictured), mixed it in, pop it back under the perfect prep for it to top it up with cool water to make it the perfect drinking temperature for baby within seconds! Secondly we have the Medela™ Electric Breast Pump. This brand has won tons of Mum’s Choice and Parenting Awards and it doesn’t take a genius to see why! It mimics baby’s natural feeding movements, is much faster and easier than manual pumping. Great for women who tire easily from a variety of conditions or who want to breast feed but wish their partner or relative to feed baby on occasion to get some much needed rest. Ideal for a Mum who struggles with dexterity strength or co-ordination.
|(IMAGE: Remap® Charity
Perhaps despite all you’ve read on this blog, online or through word-of-mouth you still cannot find that perfect tool that’ll enable you to do something with/for your little one, then all is NOT lost! If you can dream it up, the kindhearted, hardworking voluntary retired engineers from the charity Remap can make it a reality! Just for the cost of supplies and as long as the item you’ve conjured up in your mind, absolutely isn’t already out on the market – they will MAKE it for you! How amazing is that?
That brings me to the end of this compilation for Nesting with a Disability. If you have found this list helpful or would like to tell us about a product or tip that helped You but isn’t mentioned here, I’d love to hear it! So please comment below 👇
A big Thank You to the following companies for unknowingly making products that cater to parents with disabilities!