Adaptive Parenting Aids

Child rides on seat connected to father's wheelchair

Child rides on seat connected to father's wheelchair

On this and the related pages, we will share products and solutions for making independent parenting more possible for people with disabilities. Before we get started, a couple of definitions:

Adaptive Parenting Aids– These are custom-made or existing products that have been fabricated on an individual basis for parents with disabilities. We have provided photos and a brief description of the concept of how each item was made. These items are NOT available in a store for purchase! We can’t provide exact instructions, plans, or specific information relative to the individuals who created the items; oftentimes, the individuals were relatives or volunteers who created the items on a one-time basis. The purpose of providing the information here is to start your own ideas working, and we hope that the items described give you the starting point you need.

Adaptable Parenting Products– These are readily available baby and child care products that can be purchased in retail outlets in the United States or elsewhere. The products described were not intended specifically for people with disabilities as a primary consumer, but many parents have reported to us the extreme usefulness of the products.

As with all of the resources listed on this and other parts of the site, if you know of a product or adaptation that has worked for you that is not listed here, please let us know! You can email us via the “Contact Us” link at the top of the site page.

Adaptive Parenting Aids

Accessible Crib– Custom-designed for a power-wheelchair user with limited balance.

Baby Bathtub– Adapted baby bathtub for wheelchair user or parents with limited balance or lifting abilities.

Wheelchair Lap Tray for Nursing– Meals on Wheels!

Baby Lifter– Designed to lift baby up and down from the floor.

Newborn Carrier– Infant seat attached to power wheelchair–ideal for parents with limited reach or reduced arm strength.

Erin’s Ride– Toddler carrier for parent in motorized wheelchair.

Adaptable Parenting Products

BabeeTenda Crib– One side of this unique crib includes a special “toddler gate” that could possibly be of use to parents in wheelchairs who are unable to reach over a standard, drop-down crib rail.

Velcro Disposable Diapers– Diapers with “cloth” covers and velcro closures are a bit pricey, but for a parent with limited dexterity, they’re a must. These diapers allow you to position and reposition the diaper tabs without ripping the diaper. We used to advocate one specific brand of diapers when we first started this site, but nowadays, all of the major brands seem to have a prodcut that has reclosable tabs. Look for them!

Pip Squeakers–These adorable baby shoes are ideal for a parent who is blind or has low vision. The shoes have little squeakers built into them that the kiddies love–and as the parent, you’ll always know where they are!

Travel System Strollers– This particular style of stroller is great for new parents who can’t bend over to a low stroller to lift babies in and out. The design of the stroller incorporates a baby carrier that is mounted higher than a standard stroller seat. Many moms and dads who are ambulatory but may need crutches or a walker can use the stroller to lean on while moving the baby from place to place. We suggest that if you are considering such a stroller, that you go to a store with a large variety of this type so you can try them and see which one has the best features for you in terms of weight and maneuverability.

Safety 1st Magnetic Tot Lok Deluxe Starter Set – This cabinet safety lock may be ideal for some parents with limited dexterity, who find standard cabinet locks impossible to operate. It consists of a latch that is screwed into the drawer front or cabinet door, which is released when a strong magnet is held up to the drawer at the location of the latch. The latch is not visible from the outside of the cabinet, so only the “grownups” know the secret of where to place the magnet to release the latch. Caution–keep the magnet out of your child’s reach when not in use, to prevent unwanted opening of cabinets.


Summer Infant Contoured Changing Pad– This changing pad has a foam cushion that is scooped out in the center to help keep baby in place. Also has a velcro “seat belt,” which although is not a license to leave baby unattended, can act as a “third hand” to keep baby in place while changing.


Advantage Bag Company Super Pac (Model SP1000)– This wheelchair backpack makes an excellent diaper bag! It’s roomy, and it has tons o’ pockets shaped perfectly for bottles and other baby accessories. Has quick-release wheelchair handles, a carrying handle, and a shoulder strap, so any member of the family can use it easily. You can see this terrific bag at www.wheelsource.com, by clicking on “Products,” then, “Sports Pacs,” and scrolling down to the appropriate model number.

The Over-the-Shoulder Baby Holder This unique baby sling allows for natural positioning of baby for carrying or breastfeeding. May be ideal for people who use canes or crutches, because it allows for even balancing of the baby while carrying. Also helpful to mommies in wheelchairs! For more information, visit the Baby Wearing Homepage.

Baby B’air Infant Flight Vest Travel Harness (Red) — We are intrigued by this product. It is a harness worn by a baby seated on a parent’s lap, and the parent is seated in an airline seat. The harness threads through the airline safety belt of the traveling parent. We wonder whether this harness could also be threaded through a wheelchair safety belt, and provide a way for baby to travel on a wheeling parent’s lap. Check this out for yourself at One Step Ahead. (Note: Thanks to Katrina for checking this product out! Her feedback is that this product may not be suitable for parents with limited arm strength, as you will still need to be able to hold the baby upright while he or she is strapped into the carrier.)


Resources for Obtaining Adaptive Parenting Aids

We constantly receive requests for resources for rehabilitation engineers and otherwise handy folks who might be able to assist in fabricating adaptive parenting aids. We are now attempting to compile a list of such resources, but expect that this will be a long process. Any information about such resources would be greatly appreciated!

Here’s what we have so far:

Technical Aid to the Disabled (TAD) This Australian resource is a collection of mostly retired engineers who provide custom-engineered products for individuals with disabilities. Some of our Aussie parents have received assistane with development of adaptive baby care aids.

Volunteers for Medical Engineering (VME) Located in Baltimore, MD, this organization serves individuals throughout the Baltimore and Washington, DC metro areas. A VME worker designed and built our Adaptive Crib in 1996; for which we are forever grateful.

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago This rehabilitation facility has a top-notch rehab engineering department. For information, call (312) 238-1291, or write to:

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
345 E. Superior, 14th floor
Chicago, Il 60611
Attn: Rehabilitation Engineering Department

National Rehabiliation Hospital Rehabilitation Engineering Service The National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC offers services in designing or modifying assistive technologies, and design or modification of daily living aids. If you’re in or near Washington, DC, the staff here is a valuable resource.