Disabilities and Family: How to Get Your Home (and Life) Ready For a Baby
It doesn’t matter if you’re blind, physically disabled, or have learning disabilities – everyone deserves an opportunity to raise a family and nurture the next generation. If you’re ready to start planning for a baby, here are some tips from Ashley Taylor at DisabledParents.org that will give you a head start.
Make your home a baby-safe haven
One of your first priorities should be to get your home prepared. This may include replacing steep entryway stairs with a zero-step ramp, making it easier to manoeuvre yourself – and your baby – in and out of the house. If you’re in a wheelchair, consider adding expandable hinges or widening the doorways to make navigating throughout your home less cumbersome.
You should also look to mount heavy furniture and electronics to the walls to prevent any damage or accidents. You can find kits to do this at your local hardware store or online.
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Don’t forget to change your flooring to material that prevents slipping but also absorbs impact. The real estate experts at Redfin offer more suggestions on how to make your home more accessible, including simple bedroom and bathroom modifications.
You may also wish to install smart security systems such as hands-free lighting controls, video baby monitors or a wearable security device. In an emergency, these devices are invaluable and can help you access help when you need it most.
Get the right baby gear
We’ve never met any parent who’s made it through the first few years without a (seemingly) truckload of baby gear. You will be no different, and will soon find that items such as strollers, adjustable cribs, and baby gates make life easier – and safer – for everyone.
Unfortunately, safety standards change rapidly in the world of baby gear and if you want to make sure your preferred products are worth the investment, you’ll have to do your research.
BabyKnowHow.com is an excellent resource that offers mom-approved advice and reviews on some of the most popular baby care products. If you’re not sure what you need, The Mobility Resource shares 10 of the best baby products for parents with disabilities.
Make financial decisions now
As with all new arrivals, your baby is going to cost money. Unfortunately, statistics show that individuals with disabilities are often considered low-income and may incur expenses the general population doesn’t. This might include adaptive clothing or physical therapy along with transportation costs and additional doctor bills.
Financial decisions that should be addressed prior to having a baby include insurance, food and clothing, parental leave, and saving for the future – a baby is for life! Nerdwallet contributor Elizabeth Renter notes that hospital delivery fees should be easy to calculate if you already have health insurance.
Less pleasant to consider is how your child will be sustained financially if something were to happen to you and, if applicable, your spouse or partner. A trust fund or annuities-based life insurance policy should be in place before the baby is born and should be enough to cover housing, food, and basic care until they graduate high school, at the very least. It also makes sense to appoint a legal guardian in your will. This should be an individual that has a close relationship with your family. They will serve as a substitute parent, providing a safe and caring environment should you pass away unexpectedly.
LegalZoom.com explains the difference between a guardian and a custodian, and touches on what happens if no appointment is made in the will in this post. A child’s future care is something all parents must consider.
The National Council on Disability has written extensively on ways to support disabled parents and their families. You can find out more about personal assistance services, housing, healthcare, public transportation, and peer support on the federal agency’s website.