Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Creating An Accessible Crib For Parents With Disabilities

by Christina Mills, CFILC's Deputy Director

People with disabilities, especially those of us with genetic disabilities, are not often thought about as sexual beings, let alone parents. Over a year ago I was given the most exciting news in my life…I was pregnant! As a short stature wheelchair user with a genetic disability, I had thought long and hard about becoming a parent with a disability. My partner also has a genetic disability and finding a physician who would support us in expanding our family was no easy task. It took three long tries with lots of insurance hoops to go through until we finally found an open-minded, honest, forward thinking doctor who was willing to accept me as her patient.

My husband and I played it safe and waited to get pregnant until we had secured a doctor. We were able to develop a relationship with our new Family Practitioner before we became pregnant, which really helped us understand each others' perspectives on disability and quality of life. We were able to educate our doctor on our own individual disabilities, our positive perspective on potentially having a baby with one or both of our disabilities and connected her with specialists out of the area who she could consult with (if needed) during our pregnancy journey. Our story includes much more, but this blog is about Assistive Technology and I was asked to write about the AT my husband and I use as parents with disabilities. Our daughter is also disabled, which has impacted our AT decision-making.

We spent a significant amount of time researching nursery and transport items that were both safe and lightweight. After much Internet surfing and trips to various baby stores, during the third trimester of our pregnancy we finally began making our necessary purchases and equipment modifications.

Crib frames are made much differently than they were back in the '70s when I was kid. Not only are they larger and much more attractive, they are solid. They no longer come with that handy drop-down side gate feature. Even if the drop-down feature still existed, it would not likely work for us because the drop down would not be low enough. We had to come up with an alternative way to get our baby in and out of the crib. My husband doesn’t use a wheelchair, but is also short stature and lifting our daughter over the side gate would become challenging over time.

We found an accessible crib online that included a door, but it wasn’t within our budget. We asked our friends with disabilities what they were using and most people said they had regular store-bought cribs, but that they weren’t wheelchair user friendly. It was at that point that my husband and I began thinking of ways to modify a store-bought crib to meet our needs. Neither of us is very handy, but thankfully we have family members who are. After much thought and discussion, we developed a modification plan and recruited a handyman to turn our plan into reality. 

We purchased a regular 3-in-1 store bought crib which allows us to use it for a longer period of time because it converts into a toddler and full-size bed frame. We specifically went for this model because the base of it included an additional stabilizing frame along the bottom that we could bolt the locking system to. The hardware we purchased included a set of piano hinges, some sliding locks and screws to put it all together.
 
Fortunately, we had a saw and power drill, which made putting it together much easier. We sawed the front gate of the crib into two equal pieces then attached each piece to the two side gates (head and foot section of the crib) using piano hinges. The critical part of attaching each sawed piece to the side gates was to make sure that it lines up in the middle where it was cut so that there was no gap and our baby can’t get her hands or feet stuck in it. Once the frame was bolted and intact, we added two locks to the front gate which allowed us to open the crib like French doors and access our daughter directly from the crib mattress without lifting her over anything.

It’s a beautiful piece of AT that has worked well for us. Several of our average size non-disabled friends and family members have said how useful the French door gate opening is for them. They’ve said that it doesn’t strain their back and makes it easier to pick our daughter up without the frame of the crib being in the way. 

 
I’ve included a couple of modification pictures. This is what the crib looks like at the end. If you want to see the crib I found online that has a door on it you can go to Parents with Disabilities Online.


Stay tuned for our next Parents with Disabilities AT Blog post in mid-late September 2012! 

15 comments:

  1. When checking out all the specs of a crib, make sure to push it around to get a feel of how stale it is. When I was shopping for a crib, there were a few lower grade cribs that literally looked like they wanted to fall a part right in the store.

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  2. Love the DIY accessible crib. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  3. What is the item name of this crib and where did you purchase it? I'd love to purchase the same one and have my grandfather make the modifications for me. This is a great idea that will make my life so much easier. :) Thanks for sharing!

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  4. I had low back surgery and won't be able to lift my baby out of a traditional crib. This looks like an excellent solution. Would you explain more the locks you used in the front? Thanks.

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  5. The model of crib used was the 2011 "Colleen Crib" purchased at Babies R Us. Thanks to all of you for reading!

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  6. Hi! Could you post so additional pictures of the front locks? It it secure when baby pushes on it from the inside where it won't "bow" out? Looking for a solution for a client of mine expecting twin boys and will need 2 modified cribs so dad can get them in and out easily. This looks like a brilliant solution! Some of the modifications I have seen have sharp hardware that just didn't look safe for a baby!

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    1. Hi - If you are interested in more information about the modification of this crib, email us at info@atnetwork.org and I will get you some more information. Thanks for reading!

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  7. i was interested in the modified crib on your blog... we made the same one because i had low back surgery and are having trouble finding locks for the front that wont let it bow out if pushed from the inside....any info? i emailed you but it said permanently failed

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    1. the correct e-mail is info@atnet.org or info@abilitytools.org, if you want to try again.

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    2. hello, I tried that email but received no reply, is it still active?

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  8. Did you adjust the frame or mattress at all to get it that height? I realized while at a friends regular crib mattresses are rather low and a higher set mattress with the french door design would be easier for me. I am just curious if this is the regular height in your picture (looks perfect for me) or if it was also modified

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  9. www.pedialift.com - its called the PediaLift Crib - my wife and I are getting this crib. We saw one and it is AMAZING! Our insurance is funding it. Nice thing about it is that in the normal position it is low to the ground (so if a toddler trys to climb out - like they do- he doesn't have far to fall) unlike some of the other modified cribs you see that leave the baby high up all the time...heaven forbid they get adventurous and climb out...that could be disastrous! - also looks kinda stylish too

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  10. يسمح لنا في شركة ركن البيت القيام بجميع الخدمات المنزلية التي تجعلنا متفوقين علي غيرنا في لنظافة العامة بواسطة اساليب متميزة فلدينا خدمات شركة تنظيف مسابح بالرياض التي نعمل فيها علي نظافة المسابح وقتل البكتريا التي توجد بها بواسطة الاليات التي يستخدمها عمالنا ولدينا قسم شركة تنظيف خزانات بالرياض للقيام بجميع اعمال النظافة السليمة للخزانات العلوية والارضية وقتل جميع البكتريا التي توجد بها

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  11. دائماً ما نسمع أن الكثير من الناس يبحثون عن شركة نقل عفش بجدة ولكن الأهم فى هذا الأمر أن تحصُل فى النهاية على خدمة تتسم بالكفائة العالية , حيث تعتبر الشركة السعودية كبرى الشركات التى تهتم بتريمي الأثاث ومحتويات العفش المنزلية أولي الشركة التى تقدم خدمات رخيصة حتى أصبحت ارخص شركة نقل عفش بجدة
    فعملية البحث عن شركة تقوم بنقل العفش والأثاث ليست مهمة صعبة , ولكن الأصعب أن تكون قد أخترت وحددت الهدف المناسب سواء من ناحية الأسعار الرخيصة أو من خلال كفاءة الخدمة التى ستحصل عليها , فشركتنا أصبحت من ارخص شركات نقل العفش بجدة فنحن نُقدم لكم خدمات متميزة لا مثيل لها .

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