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Modified Crib for Parent with Disability

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This is a revised version of my crib modification Instructable. It includes more details on how to do some of the more complex steps, a complete list of tool/equipment requirements, and some additional changes I've had to make since publishing the original. I hope people find the extra information useful.

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.

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.

This Instructable describes modifying a wooden crib to allow a parent of short stature to access the crib without lifting. The railing opens from side to side, and the mattress is positioned just above the floor.

An article about this project will appear in MAKE 17, available on newsstands 10 March 2009.
 
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jacottin2 years ago
Hello. Very nice job indeed.

Actually as a wheelchair user, that answers one of the problems I face: getting the baby out of the crib. But I still face the "grabbing up from the floor" trouble. I've seen some projects aroung (at TLG amongst others) where the crib is basically hich enough so that a wheelchair user can wheel his legs underneeth the mattress and therefore only have to "slide" the baby onto his lap.

What do you think of this option ? I understood that you were already concerned by the height of the crib because of falls' risks when mattress at a couple of inches from the floor.

Thanks for your answer.

mX
kelseymh (author)  jacottin2 years ago
For a wheelchair user, TLG's designs struck me as excellent; similar to the "raised table" solution for desks. I think if you've wheeled right up to the edge of the crib, then the height issue isn't so much of a problem, until the child learns to open the door themselves.

We were concerned about the crib height because my wife is a little person. Removing the legs to put the mattress at floor level was necessary for her access, and the safety was just an added bonus.

For the "picking up off the floor" issue, has TLG shown you any of their infant harnesses? Picture a non-inflatable life vest, with a nylon "carrying handle" on the back. The design is similar to the European airline seatbelt vests. There a shop in Berkeley that is willing to make them, but they cost bout $150 for materials and labor.
Thank you!!!!! I'm planning on getting pregnant in the next year and was rather worried about how I could manage picking up a baby from a crib. My fully able mother has enough difficulty with just being a rather young 50 and dealing with foster babies that I had no idea what I was going to do with old spinal fractures and needing a cane all the time. Even my grandmother is usually more mobile than I am. I can't work outside the house much at all and my husband has a full time job so I know I'll be the main caregiver by default. Anything that might help will be wonderful although I'll need to think about a modification that doesn't require the mattress to be quite so low but that also won't have the safety issues either-bending at all is pretty difficult. If I figure it out I'll try to remember to document it and make my own 'ible but it probably won't be quite so elegant a solution.

...and if one more person even implies that I have no business reproducing I cannot be held responsible for my actions... Yes, I've had people tell me that to my face as well as worse comments. Being young and only partially disabled means that I tend to get rather rude comments about how it's my fault or that I'm just not trying hard enough...grrr...

Sorry about the rant. This 'ible will definitely help me a lot as most of the suggestions and devices for accessibility that I can find seem to be geared towards people in wheelchairs and don't quite work for those who are partially mobile.
kelseymh (author)  winterwindarts3 years ago
You're welcome, and good luck! Massachusetts is a long way from California, but you might try contacting Through the Looking Glass anyway. At a minimum, you could buy their book of adaptive equipment ideas, and they might even be able to give you referrals to local support for parents with disabilities in your area.

Have you ever contacted your local Center for Independent Living? The better ones often have an AT specialist who is tied into the local community for custom resources or equipment.
dollywild3 years ago
Nice! Thanks for posting this crib mod. An organization with a lot of good ideas for parents with disabilities is http://www.lookingglass.org/

The description of how you changed the crib is very clear, and of course, cute baby!
kelseymh (author)  dollywild3 years ago
Thank you!

We are very familiar with TLG :-) See the list of resources in Step 24. But you've reminded me, I should have included them in the resource list on the Assistive Technology group.

Judy Rogers at TLG worked with us before and after our daughter arrived, and we even participated with her in making a training video for other parents with disabilities.
denniszel3 years ago
Congrats for such a clear and helpful project, as an architect I have always tried to remove all the common barriers that aren't so evident for us w/o phisical disabilities, its a shame that the law doesn't take in account the special needs of handicapped parents, i hope you don't mind me taking your idea and putting it to use in my country ( Honduras),I am sure it could help a lot of parents to whom a common task as placing your baby in a crib presents such a big challenge,
kelseymh (author)  denniszel3 years ago
Please do! I've gotten a couple of e-mails from parents who built their own versions of this. It is the one project of which I am most proud, and my daughter (now 2-1/2) is still using it, and loves it! I would be very grateful if you posted pictures of your own build.

With more experience as a parent, I think it's important with this modified crib that the legs are cut off. For parents who are wheelchair users, they must think about the safety issue themselves. For us, having the crib door open means that our daughter could (and did!) want to climb out by herself. Without legs, the crib mattress is only 15 cm above the floor, so falling was not an issue. With many cribs, that height is nearly a meter, and injury is quite possible. Please think about that when you build it.
One of many projects I had at college, was to invent an assistive device.  Your project would have made the dean's list and beyond.  Beautiful!
kelseymh (author)  porcupinemamma4 years ago
Thank you very much!  This is something I am extremely proud of, and my daughter (now two) is still using it.

You must have been taking an industrial design course (or major?).  That seems to be a common project. 

What I dislike about those projects is that the students (and usually the instructor) don't seem to understand that assistive technology can only be developed with the full participation of the end user(s).  Inventing something "for" someone else to use, without their input, is the old "medical model" of treating people with disabilities as objects, or at least as less than full participants in their lives.

Sorry, this is one of my soapboxes :-/
I agree with you. People I support have specific needs and we work together to find solutions.  I am a Developmental Services Worker.  You can view the course outline at Georgian College in Orillia Ontario Canada. also take a look at my bio :0)
kelseymh (author)  porcupinemamma4 years ago
Hey, that's excellent!  Hope you didn't take my commentary personally.  My wife is a former director of an independent living center here in California, and is now head of the State Independent Living Council.  She worked in DDS when she was in college, and also did some job coaching when we lived in Vancouver fifteen years ago.  I've gotten a lot of training in the IL Movement :-)
My mom always said  that it takes a cook to design her/his kitchen :0)
Senseless4 years ago
Great Instructable!

Nice instructions and a good idea.
kelseymh (author)  Senseless4 years ago
Thanks very much!  My daughter is still using the crib, and loves being able to get in and out all by herself :-)
ampRiser4 years ago
This is Great! My disabled girlfriend could have really used this when my daughter was born! and it would have saved me allot of time changing diapers for her! also you should look into a Patent? I study Patent Law and believe this is a very patentable idea? thankx again! Frederick @ampRiser.com -instructables.com/ampRiser -youtube.com/ampRiser -myspace.com/ampRiser
shameless plug? Thanks for the Info -assistive technology, did not know about us regs. apparently you researched this throughly. thanks again, Frederick
kelseymh (author)  ampRiser4 years ago
shamelss plug

By the way, if you're interested in doing assistive technology I'bles (either making existing ones, or contributing your own), check out the AT Group.
kelseymh (author)  ampRiser4 years ago
Thanks! My concern with patentability is that it's basically illegal in the U.S. (that is, I could not license the patent because no manufacturer could market such a crib).

The CPSC regulations require that a crib rail always be at least 9" above the mattress, when lowered (open). By doing the side-open door, I'm explicitly violating that regulation. The fact that the mattress is just 6" off the floor isn't relevant to the regs, but it is to my feeling of safety.

By the way, we're still using the crib, and my daughter is now 16 months old and loves being able to get in and out by herself :-)
n8man5 years ago
Nice job on the make feature and great instructable!
kelseymh (author)  n8man5 years ago
Thanks, Nate! I'm most proud that the project has stood up, and my daughter is still using it (she'll be 11 months next week).
He's gonna make her use it until she's 17.
Gjdj35 years ago
Hey, I saw this in make: today! It's always cool to see projects from 'ibles in there.
kelseymh (author)  Gjdj35 years ago
Thank you! I am really pleased :-) I hope you saw Whatisface's project also (Daniel Walker, page 165).
Gjdj3 kelseymh5 years ago
Haha, wow I sort of missed that the first time through. I always scan the magazine when I first get it and somehow I didn't see it. That's awesome though!
netbuddy5 years ago
12 / 10 for simplicity.
kelseymh (author)  netbuddy5 years ago
Thank you! It has been working really well for us the past six months.
Extremely awesome instructable, though I have to say I only clicked on it because the title had me thinking of Divine's mother in Pink Flamingo's and was confused....
LinuxH4x0r5 years ago
Maybe it will get my vote after all
greeenpro5 years ago
This is a phenomenal instructable...wow! So thorough and specific.
kelseymh (author)  greeenpro5 years ago
Thanks!
carpespasm5 years ago
This is very well done and documented. You've obviously put a good bit of thought into the safety of it. The one thing I'd be wary of is once she gets big enough to stand up and hold onto the rail the edge of the slide (as seen in the last photo) is pretty pointy looking.
kelseymh (author)  carpespasm5 years ago
Yes indeed. On the inside face, the rails are flat, bon the outside, that's where they telescope together. My current plan is to use a modified teething strip to extend out over the outside so her fingers can't get to the drawer glide.
This is still so awesome. You should enter it into the contest. You certainly have my vote!
kelseymh (author)  Lithium Rain5 years ago
Thank you! I did :-) That's why I created a new one instead of just editing the original, after consulting with Ed. I appreciate that they felt it was sufficiently improved to count.
oldsnake5 years ago
This is awesome, and should be featured. You should patent the idea, there is a huge market for it. Again, congratulations on such innovation.
kelseymh (author)  oldsnake5 years ago
I'm sure there's a (small) market. It violates U.S. safety regulations for cribs, and so could not be sold as is in this country (or in Canada; I don't know EU regs). See my introductory comments with links to the U.S. CPSC. We are taking personal responsibility for our baby's safety, but the U.S.'s culture of liability doesn't support a product maker having that attitude about its customers. The low height of the mattress makes the chance of injury extremely low, but nevertheless...
Liability? And what about Handicap parents? It is ridiculous, but I do understand, its the law.... Very different in Europe, fortunately.
oldsnake5 years ago
And congrats on such cute baby also!!!
kelseymh (author)  oldsnake5 years ago
Thank you! Canida did feature it :-)
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