The daily, practical tasks of caring for your baby are not just a necessary element of parenting, but a wonderful way to connect with your child. When it comes to one-handed parenting, these tasks will be more challenging, so you may need to do some meticulous planning to make life less of a daily rollercoaster. If you and/or your partner are one-handed and you are expecting a baby, it is vital that you think ahead for ways to carry out the daily tasks of looking after a newborn. This can be anything from a nappy change, bathing and feeding to lifting and holding your baby. All these tasks are more than possible for parents with one arm if you plan ahead of time and learn the right techniques.
The experience of becoming new parents for the first time doesn’t have to be affected by your physical disabilities! In this article, we will discuss some priceless tips and product must-haves for one-armed parenting, whether you are partially or wholly unable to use one of your arms!
How to Overcome the Challenges of One-Handed Parenting
For parents with one arm, it is important to seek professional help and guidance if you are struggling or worried you will struggle to care for your baby due to your disability. Midwives, health visitors and occupational therapists (OTs) can help with a wide variety of queries and obstacles, such as finding any adaptive equipment you may need to aid you in your parenting journey along with manoeuvres that will help you to move your baby. And rest assured that you will not be the first to ask for disabled parenting advice!
A good tip to prepare parents with disabilities for the arrival of their new baby is to get some practice with a weighted doll before the baby arrives, so you can get used to the movements and try out equipment without the pressure and worry of doing something wrong. Be aware that a doll is completely immobile compared to a real baby, so it might be an idea to have someone around to aid you in the first few weeks of baby care so you can build up your confidence.
Parenting a young child with one arm may feel like it is getting more difficult as they get bigger and heavier, but as they get older, they will also become more responsive and able to communicate, therefore you may be able to encourage them to climb onto your lap or into your arms so you don’t have to bend over to lift them, or you can have them hold onto you while you carry them, helping to make it a little easier for you.
How to Pick Up a Baby With One ArmThere is lots to consider when lifting up a baby with one arm, such as giving their head and neck full support, getting them into the right position and ensuring you are holding them securely. Below we have highlighted some top tips for when picking up a baby with only one arm.
- Using Just Your Strong Arm (Baby Facing Away From You): With your baby on the floor or in their crib, roll them onto their side (rolling them toward your side of your strong arm, baby facing away from you), then put your arm between their legs, across their belly and up their front, cupping their chin with your hand so you can keep their head supported. Then lean down so there is a short distance between baby and your chest and lift them up so that their back is against your chest. You can then stand up straight.
- Using Just Your Strong Arm (Baby Facing You): With your baby lying on their back, again slide your arm between their legs, underneath their bum and up their back until you can cradle their head with your hand. Using the same method as the option above, lean down so there is a short distance between baby and your chest and lift them up so their tummy and chest are against your chest. You can then stand up straight.
- Use a Snugglebundl: A Snugglebundl is a fantastic way of lifting a baby with just one hand. The Snugglebundl is a lift and lay blanket with handles, designed a little like a hammock. With your baby lying in the Snugglebundl, you can easily move your baby from car seat to pram or into their crib with full head support, making the Snugglebundl an invaluable product for one handed parents of newborns who do not have complete neck/head control yet. The Snugglebundl is also a fantastic travel system accessory, a great way of lifting little ones out of car seats with awkward bending and stooping and without waking your sleeping baby.
A Snugglebundl can help to make one armed parenting that much bit easier! Discover the benefits of a Snugglebundl today...
How to Hold Your Baby One Handed
The above techniques of lifting your baby for parents with one arm will provide you with a few simple ways for how to hold your baby as well. But, if you’re keen to be able to hold your baby while moving around your house, whether it is to bond and keep them close to you or perhaps your little one is going through a fussy phase, then having a variety of different slings and baby carriers is the best way to do this. This way your hand is free to do other things aside from cuddles. Speak to your midwife, health visitor or OT about which slings will be best for you and your baby.
How Do You Change Your Baby’s Diaper/Nappy With One Arm?Nappy changing puts you in the danger zone of some pretty undesirable substances at the best of times, let alone for parents with one arm. It might take some practice and some dextrous fiddling, but you will get there! Below we have detailed a one-handed parenting top-trick for when changing your baby’s nappy.
- The “Double-Nappy” Trick: This method uses no equipment, however, you may need to practice the manoeuvre a few times before you master the technique!
- Place a clean nappy down on the changing table flat and open it so you won’t have to unfasten the tabs
- Lay your baby down into position so they are on top of the clean diaper (if you can, remove the clothes on their bottom half before laying them down)
- Undo the tabs on their dirty nappy and slide the dirty nappy out from underneath them
- Now it’s time to wipe! Provided your baby isn’t feeling particularly wiggly on this day, you should be able to achieve this without too much hassle
- Do up the tabs! Do this in 3 steps: left tab, right tab, undo and tighten the left tab so the nappy doesn’t fall off!
How to Feed Your Baby With One ArmThe easiest way for parents with one arm to feed their baby is to nurse or bottle feed sitting down so that baby can either rest in your lap or on a feeding support pillow. If you are a disabled parent with the use of only one arm, you may decide that pumping and bottle feeding or using formula is a way of making life’s daily routine that bit easier, but for some, nursing is an extremely important part of their baby’s development and an incredible way of bonding with their baby. Therefore, being able to breastfeed with the use of only one arm may be of the utmost importance to you. Below are a few ways you can make breastfeeding and bottle feeding easier one handed:
- Try Breastfeeding Lying Down: Lay your baby down on their back either on the sofa or in bed. Lay down on your side next to them, facing your baby with your strong arm free and on top. This way, baby is supported and you have your hand free to help them latch on.
- Use A Feeding Support Pillow: These are great for breastfeeding and bottle feeding. Feeding support pillows allow you to breastfeed your baby on your lap in a variety of comfortable positions so you don’t have to support their head and, again, have your hand free to help with latching.
- Use a Boppy Pillow: When bottle feeding one handed, a brilliant product to have on hand is a boppy pillow. Boppy pillows are U-shaped cushions which keep your baby’s head supported so you can use your hand to bottle feed. They can be used to bottle feed baby on your lap or on a soft surface such as their crib, pram, the sofa or the bed. An adjustable feeding pillow as mentioned above can also be a great option for bottle feeding!
- Always Use a Snugglebundl: Using the Snugglebundl makes transferring your baby from their feeding position to their pram, crib or sleeping pod a breeze because you don’t need to support their head, the Snugglebundl’s unique head support feature does it for you! Furthermore, if your baby falls asleep while nursing, lifting them up and putting them down in the Snugglebundl will ensure they carry on snoozing.
For parents with any type of disability, it can sometimes feel like you are trying to achieve the impossible, but we want to assure you that nothing is impossible when you do your research, ask for help and learn some fantastic techniques to help you with everyday baby care. There are also some fantastic products for disabled parents out there, which can help to make your life that bit easier.
Essential things to consider:
- Obtain adaptive parenting equipment: Boppy pillows and slings are not the extent of products and equipment which are priceless when it comes to disabled parenting. Speak to your midwives, health visitors or OT about the best specialised equipment for you.
- Invest in a baby bath: Baby baths will often feature head support and foam backrests, meaning you can bathe and wash your baby without having to worry about keeping their head above water.
- A Snugglebundl is a priceless product for parents in wheelchairs, one armed parents and parents with mobility issues: The Snugglebundl was designed to make lifting and laying your baby easy! Thanks to the extra strong handles and unique head support you can lift your baby with one hand and this is paramount not only for one handed parents but also a great asset for all physically disabled parents. Though the Snugglebundl is not a carrier, it takes away the stress of needing to support your baby’s head while you move them out of their car seat, pram or crib and provides the added bonus of being able to move your sleeping baby without waking!
Life isn't always easy for parents with one arm, but by keeping the above information and tips in mind you can hopefully make life a little easier for yourself. There are some fantastic products out there for parents with disabilities helping to make one handed parenting less of a struggle.