Top 6 Tips For Buying Baby Gear As A Parent With An Illness/Disability

There are lists of lists out there on the top strollers, breastfeeding pillows – and everything in between – that you need in your new adventure as a first time parent. But the criteria that editors use to rank baby gear don’t include the factors that a mom or dad with an illness or disability needs to consider: is the product comfortable, ergonomic, lightweight, or adjustable? It’s really hard to find any information or advice on the internet about what you should look for as a parent with an illness or disability when you are buying or listing on your registry the big pieces of baby gear. Here are my top recommendations, based on trial and (mostly) error.

That Soothing Bounce: You Need A Yoga Ball (aka an Exercise Ball) Many parents have to pace miles in their home while perfecting just the right jiggle-rock to get their baby back to sleep. This is no longer the only option! The exercise ball has a magical calming effect on babies when you bounce on the ball and hold your little one. I really saved my knees and my back using this trick, because long periods of standing or walking cause me a lot of pain. The ball works relatively quickly, at least on our colicky baby, and was much easier, relatively, on my body.

Get a Tall Enough Change Table: You are going to clock multiple hours changing diapers and changing outfits (welcome to the blow-out diaper!). Stooping over to change your newborn’s 14th diaper of the day is only going to make your neck, shoulder and back pain worse. For me at 5’7″, a 37″+ height was perfect. It’s recommended that the change table be waist high, and that it allows your elbows to be at a 90-degree angle when you change diapers.

Buy A Height Adjustable Bassinet Or Crib: For the same reasons as above, you can help your back out by having a bassinet or crib that allows you to adjust to a good height level for bending over and scooping up your baby. We chose the Halo bassinet because it also swiveled, which let me easily access our baby from bed (genuine opinion, not a solicited endorsement, like any other recommendations).

Invest In A Good Carrier: Whether or not you can carry your little one in a carrier will depend on your pain or illness. It can be a wonderful option if your baby likes to be held or is colicky and needs frequent comforting, or is refluxy and needs to be help upright often. A carrier can really save your arms, shoulders and upper back. When it came to trying different types of carriers, I didn’t find a baby wrap/sling very supportive. Instead we use one with thick, adjustable straps and lumbar back support. We had to order 3 and try them each before finding a good one (the Beco 8 worked for us – not an endorsement, just my personal experience). Your partner can put the baby in the carrier too, giving you a break from caring for your little one and give you a chance to rest!

Buy A Light Stroller (and other gear): Strollers can be surprisingly light. I really like our GB Qbit which is about 15 lbs or 7kg (not an endorsement). It is light to lift and easy to push. I can fold it up with one hand which is also helpful. I don’t carry it up or down stairs usually, since I leave that to my husband, but I can put it in the trunk. There are many other similar options, so you don’t need to settle for a 40 lb stroller! Online sites like Amazon let you check the weight of each item you order, and this is an important factor when considering anything you need to lug around, like the diaper bag.

Forget the Breastfeeding Pillow (But Support Yourself The Right Way With Regular Pillows): I bought the Boppy pillow early on, hoping it would make breastfeeding comfortable. I was pretty sure holding my baby in my arms for so many feeds would hurt my shoulders and upper back (I was right). However, the pillow didn’t help me at all. I decided to feed in a recliner chair, and the Boppy barely fit around me, let alone around me but between the arms of the chair. You need to use it on a couch, I’m guessing, but this option doesn’t offer much back support. For me, what worked best was putting an overstuffed regular bed pillow on my lap, and then baby on the pillow (in cross cradle breastfeeding position).

Talking to a lactation consultant helped me find the best nursing positions and how to place pillows optimally to support myself. Definitely pretend try a variety of nursing positions before baby comes and think through where you would need support for your back and arms. For example, in side-lying, you can put a pillow between your knees, and behind your back. When I bottle feed, I put the pillow propped against one arm of the chair, while my daughter sits on my lap with her back supported on the pillow (facing the opposite arm of the chair).


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