Picture of Crib Modification for Accessibility
Parents with disabilities face numerous challenges when caring for a newborn. Besides the usual lack of sleep and anxiety about such a small and dependent life, much of the equipment for infants and children present substantial barriers for parents with disabilities. Changing tables are built for standing, bathtubs can take two (or more!) hands, and cribs require parents to have substantial flexibility and lifting strength.

My wife is a little person; when she's out of the house, she uses crutches and a lower-body brace which doesn't bend. Around the house, we keep most of our storage low to the ground, and our activities are on the floor. Dinners on a patterned rug with Japanese lacquered-table place settings are a great way to relax after work!

By the time we brought our newborn daughter home from the hospital, we had been thinking about the many adaptations needed to care for her. We consulted several times with Judi Rogers at Through The Looking Glass in Berkeley, a terrific organization with resources, advice and designs, and uniquely engineered equipment for parents with disabilities. Some things were easy: a mover's dolly to move stuff around; a padded changing pad on the floor; trays of supplies stored in our coffee table. But using a crib posed a challenge.

Cribs are manufactured according to strict standards designed for the safety of the child, not for universal access; the railings are all 2 or 3 feet off the floor, and a foot or more above the mattress. Because infants are left unattended in cribs overnight, they need to be built in such a way that the child cannot accidentally fall out of the crib or get any part of their body (especially the head and neck) trapped between components. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has publicly accessible explanations, as well as formal guidance for manufacturers.
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dfergemann made it!7 months ago

Thanks for the great idea and instructions! I just finished adapting this Ikea Gulliver crib based on your plans. I put the mattress in the high position to start out with (easier to reach from a wheelchair) and used the "alternative" hook-and-staple latch. I expect we'll need something a little more child-proof once the baby can stand up and reach it.

IMPORTANT MODIFICATION for anyone else adapting a crib like this: The mattress support for this crib does not bolt directly to the end panels, unlike the description in step 1. Instead, it sits on pins that protrude into the end panels. After skimming the assembly instructions for several other Ikea cribs, I think this may be true of most or all current Ikea cribs. This means that the crib is not stable without either the unmodified front rail or the bottom solid rail for the toddler bed configuration. To solve this problem, I drilled new holes in the leg so that the toddler bed rail could be mounted directly behind its normal position, touching the fixed half of the crib rail. Each end uses one of Ikea's bolts and one wood screw, as shown in the picture. Then the fixed half of the rail can be supported by screwing into the toddler bed rail instead of the mattress support in step 18.

Finally, the mattress support is not safe in the upper position with only the toddler bed rail installed, because the ends of the crib could splay outward enough to pull a pin out. I solved this with a wood screw through each front leg, into the mattress support. The Ikea pins still bears the weight, but the screws keep the mattress support in contact with the legs.

I'm not sure yet what I'll do when it's time to put the mattress in the lower position, since I'll have to remove the toddler bed rail.

kelseymh (author)  dfergemann7 months ago

Wonderful! I am so pleased that you were able to adapt my ideas to fit your needs. You're quite right that the "pin support" cribs don't lend themselves to this kind of mod; that's why I chose the Leksvik crib (the other ones I found with solidly mounted bed frames were $700 at Babies'R'Us!).

For something more solid, you might consider using steel L brackets at each of the four crners: mount them directly below the matress support, screwed into the bottom, with the other side against the end post. Each L bracket will have two screw holes, you can use both into the end posts to provide a firm attachment.

baba874 years ago
AWESOME!!! I was worried about how I was going to get my kids in and out of the crib since Im in a wheelchair. Im so excited!!!
kelseymh (author)  baba874 years ago
Congratulations! I sure hope that it works for you. There are a couple of things you might need/want to change. If you're going to use the crib while you're using your chair, you won't want to cut off the legs; in fact, you might even need to use leg risers to get the bottom up above your lap.

Also, I did not properly design the door latch for users with manual dexterity limitations. Shortly after I published this, someone sent me an e-mail with pictures of their really awesome version. Depending on your specific needs, his ideas might be useful to you.

In any event, good luck, and congratulations again!
baba87 kelseymh4 years ago
Thanks but I'm not expecting yet but I plan on it, hopefully soon. Thanks for the tip.
An excellent idea and instructable.
Had made I flip down/up idea when the kids where babies, but this is much better.
Thank you
Thank you!  I thought about both "trailer ramp" and "French doors" implementations, but they both limited how close we could be to the crib when opening/closing.
kelseymh (author) 6 years ago
My article about this crib is out! Please see Step 26 for the link to page 37 of MAKE Vol. 17.
. Woot!

PS: you need some kind of footer or this-is-the-end-of-the-page indicator on your page. It ends rather abruptly after the LOM.
kelseymh (author)  NachoMahma6 years ago
Uh, oh. I did have an end indicator (a repeated of the "Last updated" date). Perhaps I cut it off. Thanks!
kelseymh (author) 6 years ago
I just updated the conclusion with a note --- MAKE has accepted an article about my project! It'll appear in February 2009, Vol. 19.
Very Cool
kelseymh (author)  Goodhart6 years ago
Thanks! BTW, it'll be Vol. 17 (I mistyped above). See my Orangeboard for more :-)
steveharr6 years ago
This may look like a good idea, but think about what will happen when the baby is big enough to stand and grab onto the sliders. Or even put its hand through the bars (and yes a baby could get past that safety device) whilst the sliders are moving, little fingers mean BIG tears. Take it from a Stay at home Dad. Great Instructable, bad idea, Sorry.
kelseymh (author)  steveharr6 years ago
The "sliders" are sealed-bearing drawer glides, not the crappy (and hazardous) open roller type. They are mounted so that the bearing and telescoping sections are on the outside, rather than the inside (and I've pinched my own fingers on the telescpoing sections, so I know what you mean). In an early draft, I was planning to use clear plexi on both halves of the rail. My wife shot that one down pretty quickly, "no baby of mine is going to be put in a cage!". Do you have any ideas for a safer sleeping arrangement where the parent can't lift the child more than 10 to 15 cm off the floor?
etlerd kelseymh6 years ago
Very nice work. I was thinking that to eliminate any concerns about the baby grabbing the top slider, you could affix a strip of plexi to the top of the railing such that it would be impossible for the child to wrap her hand around the railing. Sort of like a shelf attached to the top of the fixed railing. I thought your wife's cage comment was pretty funny...the kid's already in a cage :) It's got bars and everything! Good luck.
Goodhart6 years ago
Wow. Incredible. Very nicely done and a terrific idea. This opens a door for my wife and I (she can not have any children, but we would like to adopt or foster).
kelseymh (author)  Goodhart6 years ago
If you'd like to discuss some of our experiences adopting, let me know. I have no intention of wriiting anything up for public consumption (there are plenty of resources available, and I am not a big fan of "public confessional" writing), but I'm happy to pass on some of what we dealt with privately.
Well, there is one more hurdle my wife must overcome before we can even consider it, but I will keep that in mind, when and if certain decisions are made. Thanks
kelseymh (author)  Goodhart6 years ago
I'm about to jump to a perhaps unwarranted conclusion; if I'm off base, just let me know.

If you or your wife has a disability, would you consider contributing thoughts or comments to my forum topic on how you do your projects? Or anything else you care to contribute to the Assistive Technology Group?

Thanks, and thanks more generally for all of the excellent discussions.
There are disabilities and then there are perceived disabilities. I don't want to go into a public expose` on my wife and her perceptions but let's just say that, she could be in control of most of her affliction but chooses not to be, and also chooses not to place the blame for her condition in the proper direction(s).

The sad thing is, she and I have similar problems, I have had heart surgery because of it, and am now making major changes in my life style in order to change my condition. I need to convince her to do that same. But I have no control over another, and so it goes on. Sorry to be so ambiguous with this in public, but it does weigh on my mind, and elsewhere ;-)

Thank you for your suggestions. At this point, I believe that a family counselor would probably be more useful then anything.
Goodhart, I hope whatever it is you and your wife, make living with it better, wether it be overcoming it, or eating healthier, or whatever it is. Good luck in the future. Michael
Mike yes, I am one too
In one of my classes some 36 or so years ago we had 5 counting me. The teacher learned that there are some circumstances when it is OK to point :-)
Goodhart, you can't be that old. lol. Well my girlfriend and my best friend both are named megan, so teachers would say megan r. However, both there last names started with r, so that gives many teachers headaches.
Oh yes, 36 years ago (well, give or take 2 weeks) I was 14. Honestly.... Check this old forum topic out....
Wow! I hope your feeling better now, surgery was ok? I don't believe you, you lie about your age!
Well, near the same time my Dad died of colon cancer (I have had mine checked regularly for the past 10 years, since I was 40), and he was only 49 at the time, so I was a bit worried about my breathing problems. That is when they did the Cath. and found an 85% blockage in a branch of a major lower anterior artery of my heart. This was back in May 2008. The operation was done in on June 9th Yes, I am recuperating very well thank you. Believe me, in Nov., I become the big five-oh :-) Let's see, do you remember John F. Kennedy being shot (I mean, seeing the live feed)? Um, how about the last launch of the Mercury program (Mercury 9, I believe)? Some people of note, singer Patsy Cline, Martin Luther King, Jr., Lyndon B. Johnson, the death of T.S. Eliot, etc. Some events like the introduction of Zip Codes in the USA, Gemini II, the Vietnam war, the premier of My Fair Lady, the launch of Mariner 4, and the Apollo missions, etc. How about "electric Ice trucks" (they delivered ice to your door in big blocks for your non-electric refrigerator. ;-)
No, I'm, only 13. So I don't remember any of it. I don't think you're turning 50, maybe 40. haha.
Well, one more hint.....on the pic I will display here, I have darkened my WAS quite gray.....and there is very little hair left on top of my head. :-) (I have lost a little weight since that picture though...)

Mikes Pics 002.jpg
Well, that's good. I still don't believe you though!
Tis ok, I wasn't put on the earth to convince anyone of anything - - just help where I can, those I can, & for those that want it :-) <br/><br/>BTW: here is a video from my past....a commercial for the candy Good'n'Plenty ....enjoy...<br/><br/><div style="margin-left:15px;"> <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="344" wmode="transparent"></embed></object></div><br/>
ps: all of those things I remember are from the EARLY 1960's ;-)
Crusty_076 years ago
This is great. Well thought out and obviously very functional. 5/5.
This is neat! Very useful design. 5/5 stars.
kelseymh (author)  Lithium Rain6 years ago
Thank you! I had a lot of fun with it -- this was the largest scale project I actually built from my own design (I think the snowboard ski bindings were more complex, but smaller).
I didn't even see those-those are awesome too. Where do you like to go skiing?
kelseymh (author)  Lithium Rain6 years ago
I haven't skied in several years :-( When I was a post-doc in Vancouver, I'd go with friends to all three of the local places (half hour away!). We took those bindings and a rented snowboard up to Alpine Meadows in Tahoe (home of the [ Tahoe Adaptive Ski School]). In grad school, I skied at several of the Colorado places (Brekenridge, Copper Mountain, Wolf Creek, and others I don't even remember).

And you?
I haven't skied in a few years either. :'( My parents have skied all over, especially in Colorado. I have been to several ones in the New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania area. Also a really cool place in Canada called Mont Saint-Sauveur a few times (did you know they drink milk out of bags up there? I sure didn't!). But my favorite place is a pretty dinky little place in PA called Blue Knob. It's practically deserted, so we basically have the whole mountain to ourselves. It has limited runs, but some good glades and an awesome bowl.
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