How to Take Care of Babies and Toddlers While in a Cast and Crutches
I Broke My Foot, Now What?
Holiday music is playing, gifts are under the tree, the family is enjoying time together, and I break my foot on Christmas Day. Several hours in the hospital, a cast, and two crutches later, we found ourselves back at home to enjoy a quick meal of macaroni before putting kiddos to bed for the night—some Christmas! After the initial pain wore off and swelling subsided, I found myself wondering how on earth I was going to manage being at home with a baby and a toddler once my husband returned to work. Young kids don't allow you to put your feet up and take it easy while your body heals. You are constantly changing them, feeding them, putting them down for naps, playing with them, etc. Figuring out how to cope can be overwhelming. This article will provide some suggestions for ways to make life a little easier while looking after your kiddos during recovery.
Best Websites for Scheduling Helper/Volunteers
If you live near family who can stay with you full-time, that is absolutely wonderful. If that is not an option for you, it is important to find some people who can help out by cooking meals, stopping by for playdates, taking you to appointments, and more. Here are some great websites built specifically to handle these needs:
- CareCalendar.com: While this is not the prettiest-looking site, Care Calendar allows you to enter in a variety of needs to ensure that you and your children are cared for while you are recovering. Here the types of needs that you can enter into the calendar: childcare, errands, housework, meals, rides, visit, and yard work. The month-view calendar displays each need in green or red to convey if that need is filled or still requires a volunteer. The recipient will receive emails with information covering the upcoming three days and the volunteer will get reminder emails.
- MealTrain.com: Meal train is a really pretty and easy-to-use site. However, the free version only allows you to organize one meal per day. If you want to request multiple meals or schedule things like housework, errands, rides, etc, it will cost you $10/month.
- VolunteerSpot.com/SignUp.com: This site is a lot more modern-looking than CareCalendar and also allows you to enter a variety of needs in a calendar view. However, since this website allows for all kinds of volunteer opportunities to be entered (fundraisers, school activities, potlucks, sports, etc), you really have to think about how to best organize the spots to work for an injury. Another plus is that it is more likely that friends may have used this website in the past and be able to more easily navigate their sign-ups.
Ease and Comfort of Moving Around the House
Navigating around the house and performing everyday tasks can be extremely difficult while on crutches. Here are some suggestions for how to get around a little easier.
- Extra set of crutches: I recommend keeping a set of crutches on each floor of your home. Scooting up and down stairs is already a challenge without having to carry crutches around with you. Check with friends and family...chances are that they will have some extra sets you can borrow.
- Bag of necessities: Keep a bag full of your most important necessities close by so that you don't have to move around too much. Make sure that it is a bag that you can either wear cross-body or loop around your crutches while carrying things back and forth. These are necessities for you and your kiddos! Some necessities to include: water, healthy snacks, phone, pen, paper, book, and other activities. You might also want to get a jump on "thank you" notes for people who help out.
- Put most important things at waist level: Reaching up or bending down can be extremely challenging and potentially dangerous while on crutches
- Shower chair: Place a shower chair or water-resistant chair (non-skid) in your shower. It will make washing SO much easier.
- Cast cover: Many pharmacies sell a specific cast cover for bathing. This works better and is more convenient than taping a plastic bag around the cast.
Keeping Children Entertained While in a Cast
Chances are good that if you are in a cast, you will be mostly bound to a bed, chair, or couch. Your child might be able to play independently, which is awesome. If your child is still mischief prone, it would be worthwhile to keep them confined to a smaller area of the home. Utilize a door or baby gate to keep your toddler within eyesight. Here are some ideas that you can do with your children while you are laid up:
- Read: Read all sorts of books with your kiddos. Puzzle books, picture books, non-fiction, etc. Mix it up. You might also consider asking visitors to swing by the library for you or bring over some books from their collection to provide some new stories for your kiddos.
- Activity books and cards: There are so many great wipe-clean/ dry-erase books, mess clean coloring and painting books, mazes etc. Sticker books can also keep toddlers available for several hours.
- Instruction games: If your child is old enough to follow instructions, you can stay seated while providing the direction and instructions for your kiddos. Great games include Red Light, Green Light, Mother May I?, and requesting that your child find items that start with a certain color or letter.
Bathing, Changing, and Feeding Children While on Crutches
Bathing, changing, and feeding children are the areas where I think it is most important to have a helper. If it is not an option for somebody to help with these tasks, here are some tips which might make these things a bit easier.
- Diaper and clothing changes: For changing babies, try to change them on an elevated surface like a bed or changing pad. Make sure you can support your body against a piece of furniture so that you are stable while using both hands to change the baby. Also be sure to support yourself when raising or lowering the baby up. If it is too much of a concern that baby might roll off, try changing baby on the floor while you are sitting in a chair. Be sure that all of the supplies are laid out easily for you to access.
- Bathing children: For bathing small kids, it might be possible to still give a bath. If so, set up a chair next to the tub and use minimal water in the tub so that kiddo won't splash water on your cast. Bathing in the sink or providing a sponge bath are other options.
- Feeding and meal time: Even if you have it scheduled so that meals will be brought in by helpers, it can still be challenging if you have to feed your kids on your own. Pouring milk, carrying food to the table, etc are tricky obstacles to navigate. Try scooting food along the countertop to avoid carrying plates too much. Place food items in a basket that can be fixed to a crutch. Older toddlers may be able to set the table or carefully carry kid dishes back and forth to the table. If you have extra bottles and cups, ask a visitor or spouse to pour some milk in advance. Place on a lower shelf for older toddlers to be able to help themselves.
Share Your Experience
I hope this article has provided some ideas to make life easier for a parent of little ones on crutches. Another wonderful thing you can do while propping up your leg is to write thank you notes for all of the help from family and friends that you have received.
I'd love to hear about your experience and if you have any other great suggestions to add to the list above. Please leave a comment in the section below. Thank you!