Wheelchair baby carrier and toddler carrier

Nina Evans from the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering (BIME), UK, talks about the BIME wheelchair baby carrier and toddler carrier, with comment from disabled parent, Mandy Gatrick. Here Mandy talks about her experiences of getting out and about as a disabled parent.

Bath Institute of Medical Engineering (BIME) is a design and development organisation linked to Bath University. Since 2006, we have been manufacturing the wheelchair baby carrier on a very low volume, almost bespoke, basis. It is still a very exclusive product with only 10 in use in the UK.

We do hope to continue this service but the real solution would be to find a commercial partner who is either a baby buggy or wheelchair manufacturer. This would give us the opportunity to further improve the baby carrier and also deliver it on a more international basis through more accessible mainstream outlets.

Parents’ feedback

Mandy Gatrick, a mother and wheelchair user who tested the baby carrier, said, “I try to be as independent as possible and wanted to find a way to take my baby daughter Evie out and about on my wheelchair. While researching online, I came across BIME and, thankfully, my local authority agreed to pay for the baby carrier. I used to have to rely on friends to take us to a mother and toddler group but now I go out every morning with her in the baby carrier.

“It took a bit of getting used to at first and you do need good upper body strength but it has definitely given me the independence that I wanted. I’ve been using the baby carrier since Evie turned seven months. Now she is 17 months old.”

The toddler carrier

Babies quickly grow into toddlers and at this stage often need the occasional ride to give them a quick rest. We set one of our engineering students the task of designing a toddler carrier. The challenge was to try to make a stylish and fun solution that toddlers might enjoy.

The prototype he developed was a tricycle style attachment (pictured opposite). The tricycle seat attaches to brackets which are fitted onto the wheelchair frame. This allows the seat to be quickly fitted on or taken off. The seat can be dismantled into two component parts that fit together to make a flat pack for carrying or storing.

We are always happy to talk to parents and share our experiences of developing ideas for toddler carriers. We are keen to get feedback from other parents who are wheelchair users. Is a wheelchair version of the buggy board needed? What do you think of this design?

Ideas for new design projects

We would also like to hear from you if you have an idea for a design project. Further information on BIME can be found on our website: www.bime.org.uk We can be contacted by telephone on 01225 824103 or e-mail at info@bime.org.uk.

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