Family Days Out Blog
familyDaysOut Jan 03, 2019
Out and About with Baby: Tips for Parents with Disabilities
Written by Family Days Out Correspondent Ashley Taylor
You’ve mastered life at home with your new baby, and now you’re ready to start venturing into the world beyond your home’s walls. But while your house is perfectly adapted to your disability, the outside community presents a whole new set of challenges.
“Baby proofing a home is one of the most important projects a parent does to ensure the safety of their children,” Angie’s List explains. At home, you’ve covered electrical outlets, installed baby gates and child-proof locks, and made adaptations that empower you as a disabled parent. But out in the community, you have to cope with unpredictable environments and accessibility hurdles.
These tips will help you plan your first outings with a little one.
The right childcare equipment makes getting out of the house so much easier. These are some products that enable family outings:
Swivel-base car seats:
Rear-facing car seats are safest for babies but lack user-friendliness for wheelchair users and parents with limited reach. A swivel-base car seat allows you to buckle your child in before turning the seat toward the rear of the car.
Wraps and carriers:
Parents of all abilities swear by babywearing as a way to keep their hands free and strengthen the parent-child bond. Wraps, slings, structured carriers, and lap bands are the most popular babywearing solutions.
There aren’t a lot of options for parents in the market for adaptive strollers. However, many parents with disabilities have found strollers that work for them, whether that’s a lightweight stroller, a stroller with a single handle, or a travel-system stroller that mounts babies up high.
Don’t count on changing tables being available, functional, or accessible everywhere you go. Pack a changing pad and practice your strategy for changing your baby on the floor, on your lap, or in a stroller or the trunk of your car. Yes, parents on the go have to get creative!
Child harnesses get a bad rap, but they’re an amazing tool for parents with visual impairments or parents who can’t keep up with an energetic toddler. A harness and leash allows toddlers some freedom while ensuring they never get too far away.
Adaptive recreational equipment:
Handcycles, hands-free fishing rods, all-terrain wheelchairs — recreational equipment is one arena where disabled parents have a multitude of options. Disabled Sports USA lists the best places to shop for adaptive sports equipment.
Going out only to discover your destination isn’t accessible is incredibly frustrating for people with disabilities. Identify accessible restaurants, stores, parks, and other attractions with accessibility apps like Wheelmap and AXS Map. Google Maps also tags places that are wheelchair accessible, including information on wheelchair-accessible transit routes. However, Google’s accessibility data is still in its early stages, so information may be incomplete for some locales. Learn how to use the new feature at Tech Times.
Regardless of disability status, having an extra set of eyes on your child is a great help — not to mention the simple pleasure of adult conversation when you’re a new parent. Join parenting groups that plan social meetups for parents and kids. Whether you join a group specifically for parents with disabilities or a general parenting group, having other parents to connect with is an invaluable resource. Not sure how to find local parenting groups? This page lists the best places to look.
Every new parent benefits from time out of the house. Outings are also great stimulation for little ones once their immune systems have had a few weeks to develop. We hope these tips make your first outings with baby a little bit easier!