The VI parents who joined us for our free, online Q&A session shared some great tips and advice from their own experiences. We wanted to make them available to more VI parents, so here are some of the highlights. At the end of this post you can find out a little about each of the VI parents who were on the Q&A panel.
Lots of people were seeking help and support from WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages. Always good to find friendship groups in similar situations
Pushchairs and prams and slings
Slings seem to be the favourite when a child is smaller as it allows your hands to be free. Lots on the market so try before you buy or even borrow. Check out your local area for sling meets where you can try and sample lots of different types.
With prams and pushchairs guide dog or white cane users may find this a little trickier to navigate. Try before you buy to make sure the pram is easy for you to assemble and manoeuvre. Hannah pulls the pushchair behind her so it’s easier, prams with one wide handle better than stroller with two handles to do this.
Practise on a pretend baby before your baby is due. Carry essentials in a backpack to free arms if you are a cane or Guide Dog User. Carry your own changing mat as you don’t know if baby changing facilities are clean. Change on the floor rather than a high up table to keep the baby safe. Use paper towels to clean up the majority of the mess followed by a baby wipe. Be organised and refill your bag as you use it. As your baby gets older pull ups are much easier.
Put your child in brightly coloured underwear this will help you identify if your child has had an accident. Musical potties can be really helpful not only to encourage the child to use the potty but for you to know when they have gone., however the can be pricey.
Have your bathing essentials at hand and organised. Check the temperature of the water with your elbow. This works well and no need for talking temperature thermometers. Trust your instincts.
Breastfeeding can be tiring but has lots of advantages, Cheaper and easier to navigate than bottles. It takes time for you and the baby to get a hang of it.
Bottles and sterilising
Lots of sterilisers on the market. Some even cold water ones can be easier and more safer. Get help to make bottles if you need to. Practise and use the scoop measurer on the top of the milk containers. Pre-made milk is also good when out and about.
Babies need to learn to be patient. Use your finger against the baby’s cheek to allocate the mouth. Use a soft tipped spoon and practice will make perfect. Place a towel under the high chair to collect any stray food so cleaning up is easier. Use bibs with catch trays so food doesn’t drop on the floor. Buy suction plates and cups so they don’t easily fall off the high chair. Baby led weaning methods also helpful for parents with VI as the baby holding their own foods, trust your instincts on listening to their chewing sounds, we all have had worries on how their swallowing is going and babies have heightened and effective gag reflexes.
Out and about
Familiarise yourself with your surroundings. Go with someone if this makes you feel more comfortable. Teach your children from early on what you expect from them. Teach them to come back when you call them and use sweets and rewards to encourage this. Place kids in bright colours to locate them in play parks and larger areas. When walking along a pram, always ask them to hold on to the side. Buggy boards can also be useful for an older child while you have a younger sibling in the pram.
As children become older they become more helpful to assist you and be your navigator.
School and learning
Have a good relationship with your child’s school so they are aware of your needs. Ask for correspondence to be given to you in a format that suits your needs. Read to your children digitally or use books in your required font size. Ask for home work to be sent so you can assist in a way that suits you and your child .
Meet some of the parents who were on the panel
Andrea – Yes, Andrea, our LOOK staff member (currently on maternity leave) is a couple of months into parenting and she is joined us to share her experiences and ideas so far. Andrea is totally blind and has a hearing impairment too. Andrea has one baby, born in January. Andrea is also a LOOK Mentor.
Andrea’s top ‘Parenting with VI’ tip so far is, “Do what is right for you and your baby. Go with your gut instinct.”
Joel – LOOK mentor, who is a father of two children. His VI is Retinopathy of Prematurity. He also has Nystagmus and high frequency hearing loss. He has light perception in his left eye and only central vision in his right eye. Joel has had two guide dogs in the past but he currently use a long cane.
Dan – LOOK Mentor is the father of a 15-year old son. Dan is registered Severely Sight Impaired but he has peripheral vision and can see colours. He struggles to see things in detail and with bright lighting.
Dan’s top parenting tip is “Trust your instinct, there’s no right or wrong answer, and never be afraid to ask for help.”