Wheelchair Accessible Baby Bathing Station

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by Shannon Coe, Program Coordinator

One of my favorite activities with my 5 month-old baby is bath time.  This bonding activity would not have been possible if my husband had not built a wheelchair accessible bathing station in our bathroom.   

Before our daughter was born, we researched different types of tubs for babies. However, most of them were too difficult and/or impossible for me to use. They were all either too heavy for me to lift or required me to kneel down by the bathtub. I use a wheelchair, and none of these were viable options.     

There are smaller tubs that fit into the bathroom sink, but our daughter would only be able to use one of those for about six months.  We wanted a tub that she could use until she was at least one year old.  

When I asked other mothers with disabilities how they bathed their babies, they shared with me that only their husbands were able to give their babies baths. They suggested that I do the same thing and just have my husband bathe our baby. Even though my husband would be happy to do this, I really wanted to share in this important task with my daughter, too. I was determined to make something work because it is important to me that I am able to do things for my daughter independently.  

Fortunately, my husband is handy; he built a bathing station in our bathroom that I can roll up to and put the baby into the tub.  He bought a faucet with a spray handle, tubes, plywood, and tile board to make a table with a back wall to keep the baby safe.  He measured the height of my wheelchair to make sure it would fit underneath the table.  We went to IKEA and found a perfect sized plastic bath tub for a baby.  

My husband cut a hole in the tub to install a drain, and another hole in the table top for the IKEA tub to fit in. Then, he installed the faucet on the table by the tub and connected the tubes to the pipes under the bathroom sink.  He also bought and installed a bendy plastic drain-pipe to put under the bathing station so the water would drain into the toilet.  Finally, we inserted a contoured foam baby tub into the IKEA tub to provide more comfort and cushion for our baby.  

Shannon in front of her wheelchair accessible bathing station

As she gets bigger, she will transition to using only the IKEA tub.  We found a mini changing pad at Buy Buy Baby to put on the table next to the tub so we can easily transfer our little one from the tub to the changing pad to dry and dress her all in one station.   

Our daughter loves bath time and I would not have wanted to miss spending those times with her.  I wish there were more accessible devices for parents with disabilities in the market but since there are not, our best resources are each other.

What device have you or has your partner created to meet the needs of your family?

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