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One-handed parenting: a practical guide for new parents

Kate Hodson, from The Stroke Association, a charity supporting and providing a voice for stroke survivors and their families across the UK, reviews DPPI’s One-handed parenting: a practical guide for new parents. The guide is available from DPPI information service, free to disabled parents, £6 to others.

This is a no-nonsense guide, providing one-handed parents who have a new baby with some straightforward ways of tackling all the essential daily baby care tasks such as picking your baby up, changing a nappy and breastfeeding, using only one arm.

Its overall tone is one of confident suggestion and problem solving, tempered by some honest reflection about preparation and creating a safe starting point for both parent and the baby. I was impressed by its calm positivity and underlying desire to enable parents to experience happy parenting as well as cope with the practical side of life with a newborn.

I was pleased to see some of the methods illustrated by (admittedly quite small) line drawings to help visualise the written explanation.

I felt the practical advice, for example how to pick a baby up and, crucially, changing nappies using one hand or arm, would fall into place if someone was following it with their baby from birth, the period covered by this guide.

Although it may become harder to use some of the techniques when a baby is older, more mobile or just heavier, babies will respond to a routine they are familiar with. The section on nappy changing reminds a parent to use the developing baby’s increasing interactive skills to help complete the task, not just in an efficient way but so the experience is enjoyable too.

You can read the guide as a whole or dip into each chapter as you need to. With 12 pages of resources at the end, it promises to be a very useful publication for families and professionals alike.

As someone who works on a national stroke helpline, I am aware of some of the difficulties facing younger people after having a stroke, either as new parents or who already have children. When a young person has a stroke (more usually against a background of good health), they are very much looking forward to the rest of their life. A stroke is devastating, however minor it is, because it can substantially dent someone’s hopes and dreams for the future, including the chance of happy and successful parenting.

Not everyone has a one-sided weakness or paralysis after stroke, but a large number of people do and we can effectively use suggestions from this guide when talking to someone who has had a stroke or use it to signpost them to other services and support, including the other featured guides on early childcare or special equipment.

Although I would have liked to see clearer illustrations of some complex sounding manoeuvres, plus some mention of wheelchair parenting, this does not detract from the overall usefulness of the guide, which successfully shows solutions to everyday tasks faced by a new parent who only has the use of one arm. The Stroke Association is pleased to have it in our library.


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