Please join me in welcoming Ashley Taylor from disabledparents.org. She is a parent with a disability and so when she asked me if she could guest post on my blog, I was delighted. I have severe cerebral palsy but I don’t have children and sometimes that’s held against me. So here’s a parent with a disability that is treating her children respectfully. I hope you will enjoy her posts.
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Childproofing a home before a baby arrives is a challenging chore for any expectant parent. And it can be especially daunting for parents to be who are dealing with disabilities. But getting an early start and tackling tasks systematically can help make your home safer for you and its new occupant. Here is some information and advice to get you going.
Background on Parents With Disabilities
Research shows there were 4.1 million parents with disabilities in the United States in 2014, or around 6.2 percent of parents with children under 18. And, though attitudes are starting to shift in some states, the majority have dependency statutes that allow courts to reach the determination a parent is unfit based on the parent’s disability. So, while it is important for every expectant parent to establish a safe environment in their homes, it could be even more critical for those whose skills might be scrutinized by well meaning family, friends, and officials.
Fortunately, some agencies provide services specifically designed to assist prospective and expectant parents with disabilities plan for life after labor or adoption. Services could include home visits to evaluate areas for safety purposes, lending out adaptive child care equipment for people to try before they buy, and performing follow-up visits as the baby ages. Advocacy agencies such as Through the Looking Glass are a good place to start when seeking resources and training programs.
What to Do Before the Baby Arrives
There are some things you should mark off the child proof checklist prior to a baby’s grand arrival in its new home. Here are some suggestions from sources including Redfin.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors if you have an attached garage or use oil or gas to heat your home. Check batteries twice a year.
- Install and maintain functional smoke detectors. Check them monthly and change batteries at least once a year if your detectors require them.
- Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and have a fire escape plan in place.
- Keep nightlights away from fabrics, including bedding and curtains, and opt for night lights that don’t heat up when used.
- Put together a first-aid kit for babies and take an infant CPR class.
- Install childproof locks on cabinets containing poisons, medicines, and cleaning supplies.
- If your home has lead paint that’s peeling or flaking, hire a certified Lead-Safe professional seal or remove it.
- Make sure your water heater is set no higher than 120℉ to minimize the risk of accidental burns.
- Install plates that slide closed over electrical outlets.
Furniture, Rugs, and More
- Cover sharp furniture edges with bumpers or padding.
- Stony or sharp fireplace hearths should also be covered and expectant parents should also install heat-resistant gates for when the fireplace is in use.
- Put non-slip pads under area rugs that don’t already have non-slip backs.
- Anchor heavy furniture that could tip over, such as dressers and refrigerators, to the wall or floor.
- Consider investing in baby gates to block off areas that you plan to keep off limits for your little one, but avoid accordion-style gates that they might get stuck in. For rooms with doors, try knob covers that make it doors difficult to open for little hands. Test some options early to make sure they also meet your accessibility needs.
- Install window stops or guards.
- Clip looped window blind cords and install safety tassels. Fit blinds’ inner cords with inner cord stops.
- Review safety suggestions and product recalls before buying furniture for the baby’s room.
There will be other childproofing considerations once your baby starts crawling and walking, but this list gives soon-to-be parents a strong start toward creating a home that will help keep all its inhabitants happy and healthy for years to come.