When Your Baby or Toddler Is Visually Impaired
Having a baby is one of life’s most joyous experiences, but new parents may often feel as though their world has been turned upside down! As precious as children are, they don’t arrive with a set of instructions. If you’ve just learned that your baby is blind or low vision, you may be feeling many strong, and even conflicting, emotions: from absolute love and protectiveness to shock, fear, or even anger.
Most parents of children who are blind or low vision experience a range of feelings like these at first. But children with eye conditions can lead healthy, happy, and independent lives, and their families can play a key part in helping that happen. Yes, there are many new adjustments to make, but there are also many services and sources of help available to you—parents’ groups, national and local organizations, as well as sympathetic and experienced professionals.
Tips for New Parents of Babies Who are Blind or Low Vision
You may not know what to expect right now, but, as you’ll discover, your baby is like other babies in most respects. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions that may be helpful for you as a new parent of a child:
- If your baby can’t make eye contact with you, bonding is still important; you can still cuddle, get to know each other, and learn to love each other. Be aware that other senses—touch, smell, and hearing—will help your child learn to recognize their environment.
- Rather than cooing or crying when your baby wants attention, they may be quiet. If they are unable to see you approach, your child may be using their hearing to find out if you’re nearby.
- Help your baby know what’s going on by describing what you’re doing and what may be beyond arm’s reach.
- Early on, let your child explore the world by touching people and objects.
- Treat your baby just as you would any other child—not like a fragile toy, but as a baby—bouncing on your knee, tickling, and kissing them.
- Give your baby lots of opportunities to get to know other children and adults by going walking, shopping, and to playgrounds, swimming pools, and other community places.
FamilyConnect Is Here for You
FamilyConnect is a good starting point for getting answers to your questions and the information you need, including:
- Public and private agencies
- How to handle the news of your child’s visual impairment
- Questions to ask your child’s eye doctor
- Building healthy families when a baby is blind or visually impaired
- Early childhood program
- Parent support groups
- Advocating for your blind child
- Choosing games and toys
Additionally, in this section, you’ll find information on: