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Are you expecting and worried about the physical side of parenting with a disability? Look no further! As a disabled Mum myself I know that inner anxiety all too well, however, what I soon discovered is that there are baby products on the market that can actually be really helpful if you’ve got a physical disability and need to figure out the methods and techniques of meeting your baby’s needs, before your little one’s arrival.
In this blog, I’m going to share with you some total game-changers amongst the sea of baby products out there. Saving you time, money and most importantly – peace of mind.
1. Tommee Tippee Prep Machine
Current health regulations state that parents should prepare bottles as and when they’re required; unlike the traditional methods grandparents-to-be commonly advise to do e.g making up several bottles at once and leave them ‘pre-loaded,’ if you will, in the fridge. New advice came to light after WHO noted a large percentage of babies had been hospitalized after consuming milk that unknowingly contained bacteria and e-coli from being made up and refrigerated. It’s tough for any parent to cope with the urgent piercing screams of a hunger baby, having to wait for an age for the kettle to boil, formula to be mixed, then trying to cool it down under a cold running tap. Throw in a disability and you may see grey hairs sprouting right then and there!
The Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine is like a coffee maker for infants, only it aids in making formula. The machine heats the water to boiling point (needed to kill any bacteria in powdered formula) and you simply choose what oz bottle you need at the tap of a button, while the machine does the work for you – measuring precisely how much boiling water you need per oz. Once the bottle is filled, you tip in your formula of choice, stir and tap again for it to add a small jet of cool water at the end to bring the bottle to perfect drinking temp for your little one. All steps take under 2 minutes. Meaning a less distressed and calmer feeding time for baby and not a kettle insight! Many physically disabled people are at risk of scolding themselves when using a standard kettle so the perfect prep machine takes away that danger. Parents with learning difficulties find the machine easier to use also because many steps in bottle prep are automatic, easing anxiety.
2. The Scotia Cot
Many people only discover how inaccessible standard cots are for disabled parents, particularly wheelchair users, right as they’re shopping for the basics for baby. The design of the cot hasn’t changed in decades and many manufacturers don’t offer a wheelchair accessible option in their inventory. In fact, when doing my own research, I couldn’t find a single company in the UK that markets an adapted cot. Leaving expectant parents to hire handymen to adapt a cot themselves to meet their needs, which is not only costly but if done incorrectly, can be a major safety risk not just for parents but most importantly for baby.
That’s where Centrobed comes in! Centrobed are a highly qualified and established specialist bespoke bed company for children and adults with disabilities/additional medical needs. Along with their famous turning bed, they have the Scotia cot! Originally made for infants with high medical needs with its miniature elevating head and knees mechanisms and total height adjustability, they’ve realized their product has huge potential for disabled parents to be! A wheelchair user could go side on and adjust the height of the cot for their needs, making it much easier to get baby in and out. As baby grows, they can be placed in the cot, snuggled up ready to sleep at the level height of the parents wheelchair and then safely lowered down, so when they go to pull up on the side rails they have the depth to do that, just as putting a standard cot on its lowest setting. The Scotia cot is easily operated by a corded handheld remote with simple to understand buttons. Centrobed also prides themselves on bespoking their beds to the customers needs, so for example if a wheelchair-using parent wanted the side rails on the Scotia cot to split in the middle and swing-out, enabling them to get their legs under so getting closer to baby, they’re more than happy to meet whatever requirements needed and you can trust the adaptations are rigorously safety checked by their specialist engineers. Worried about the cost? Centrobed have you covered with a long list of charities that offer grants towards specialist equipment like the Scotia cot.
This simplistic baby product was designed originally to help free up parents’ hands at the dinner table when their little one needed to remain close for comfort. Another example of an untapped market the manufactures of Lapbaby didn’t think about was disabled parents, more specifically wheelchair users and amputees!
Before this bad boy was a thing, buckling baby into our safety belt on our wheelchairs was the way we rolled. Though it did the job, it wasn’t without its issues such as baby finding the release button and their bottom sliding, needing constant readjustment. LapBaby is the perfect alternative to a lap belt and is far more secure, with its heavy-duty velcro fastening with an added buckle for peace of mind. It even comes with a built-in bib and loop to hang toys, allowing manually wheelchair users the ability to roll around with baby secured to them safety, those with lack of upper body strength that extra security and arm amputees a way of keeping baby close to them creating greater independence.
4. Baby carriers/slings
Those of us with mobility limitations worry about how we will mobilize with baby, especially if you need your hands free to use crutches/walking frame/white cane or self-propel your wheelchair. That’s where the wonderful world of baby carriers/wraps comes in!
Now the sheer amount of options of these carrying aids may be overwhelming at first, that’s why I’d strongly recommend locating your local Sling Library and attending a session. This will enable you to try all different kinds with little/no cost until you find the right one that suits you and your needs.
Some like ones you can buckle on and go, while others don’t mind learning how to tie Moby Wraps (GREAT brand) just to have babies weight more evenly dispersed across your shoulders. When it comes to finding the right one for you – functionality, practicality and comfort are key.
5. Video baby monitors
I was so anxious when it was time for my babies to move into their own bedroom at 6 months. Having a disability that limits your mobility means it takes that bit longer and more energy etc to go check on baby in the night. That’s when I convinced my partner, in an effort to ease my mind, to fork out for a video baby monitor. Placing it beside my bed and being able to watch my girls, plus the extra features like the digital display of the room temperature and night vision mode was a godsend for the hypervigilant parent that I am (no shame). It was like they never left the safety of our room because I could still see them the moment I opened my eyes on the monitor, could hear them breathing softly and see that the blanket hadn’t wiggled up over their face, etc. All those little S.I.D worries us parents have, a video monitor can elevate! You can even get ones that you can view on your phone/tablet/PC, much like a home security system so you could use it with assistive technologies such as JAWS/Dragon speech recognition or even eye gaze software if you struggle to use traditional buttons.