How to Prepare When You’re Expecting a Baby with a Disability

Bringing a new life into the world is one of the most challenging and rewarding journeys you will ever travel. Most parents feel both frightened and exhilarated about having a baby, and when your little one has a disability, you might feel especially overwhelmed. With a few preparations, however, you can be ready when your child arrives.

Bringing Baby Home

 Depending on the nature of your little one’s disability, you might need to make home renovations. Some changes might be pertinent right away. For instance, if your child will be dependent on special equipment, adding an emergency generator might be a top priority before your baby arrives. Another suggestion is to invest in a window air-conditioning unit. That way, if your cooling system fails, your child can remain comfortable. In terms of long-term plans, you might need to widen doorways, create a roll-in shower, or add a wheelchair ramp to an entrance. Reviewing a home-modification checklist can help you prioritize your projects.

Some of the more substantial renovations you might be able to put off until after your child is older, and spacing things out over time can be a practical way to manage your budget. Rather than a single, big remodel to make your whole home handicap accessible, try doing some of the smaller modifications that can be made inexpensively. Adding grab bars to a bathroom, a threshold ramp for easier navigation through a doorway, and smooth surface flooring are relatively low-cost modifications that promote mobility.

Prepare Your Finances

 Do you have a budget in place? If you don’t, you need to establish firm financial footing before your baby arrives. Tally your total income and reduce it by your expenses, and work your numbers until you have a zero balance. Make note of your negotiable expenses, such as clothing, versus non-negotiables, like your mortgage payment. An overage in income can go toward savings, and the easiest place to cut expenses is in the negotiables.  When it comes to the costs related to raising a child with a disability, Mint explains you are likely to have substantial expenses relating to your child’s special needs. One suggestion is to save for your child’s future in the same manner you would for college. By including that category in your budget right away, you create a cushion for unexpected expenses sooner.

Insurance Inquiries

 If your little one will have many medical expenses early on, Kiplinger explains that Medicaid might fill in gaps your health insurance doesn’t cover. Non-reimbursed expenses can often be written off on your tax return, so you should track copayments and out-of-pocket expenses related to tests and traveling to appointments right off the bat. Also, depending on the nature of your child’s disability, you might be your baby’s caregiver well into her adult years. You might be thinking about investing in a life insurance policy, as that can be a practical solution for helping to finance your child’s ongoing care after you are gone. Setting up a special needs trust is another good option, as it is designed to protect your child’s rights should anything happen to you. Consider discussing your personal circumstances with an estate attorney or financial consultant to determine the best course of action.

Taking Care of You 

Many times, parents of a child with a disability tend to focus their energies entirely on their little one. While putting your baby first is a natural inclination, you can actually run yourself ragged doing so. As the Daisy Foundation points out, without a healthy self-care plan in place, you risk depression, anxiety, and poor health. Both during pregnancy and after your child is born, ensure you take time for yourself. Relax, rest, play, and do things you enjoy — your physical and mental well-being need to be a priority.  After all, your baby is counting on you!

Expecting a child can feel overwhelming, especially if your little one will have a disability.  Prepare your home and your finances, and take care of yourself. You can be confident and ready when your baby arrives.

Author: Charles Carpenter created He believes in the power of music and sound as a healing tool. He is based in San Antonio, Texas.