One-Handed Baby Care Tips

“I am an occupational therapist, and my husband has a below elbow and a below knee amputation.  He is completely independent in caring for our kids.  I wanted to pass along some of our “words of advice” based on our experience. Good luck with your baby!”
Dora Quilty

Breastfeeding: get a Medela Double electric pump and start pumping from the hospital on.  It will be less frustrating and you get all the benefits of breast milk for the baby but no sore/bloody nipples, no frustration of positioning the baby, switching breasts without using your prosthetic because it’s the middle of the night etc… Pumping also allows you to let others feed the baby in the night and when you need a break.

Feeding: baby positioned in the crook of the residual limb/prosthetic feed with your hand, allows you to follow the baby’s head around as baby “eats” without trying to get the prosthetic hand to turn.

Stroller/car seat: get a travel system, more expensive but so necessary.  The car seat should have a one push button release not a two button push.  It allows you to remove the car seat using the prosthetic and no fine motor.  The five point harness should have a one-touch tighten and release mechanism.

Chicco keyfit travel system has a stroller that you can open and fold down completely with one hand.  It has a car seat that you tighten with one hand.  The release can be operated with the gross motor action of a prosthetic hand.

Diaper bag: NO ZIPPERS.  Get a shoulder bag that has a Velcro-close  flap.  It allows for easy access with no frustration when closing.

Changing Table: don’t put a cover on the changing pad.  I will be much easier to clean the surface of the changing pad as is. The baby is likely going to soil the changing surface while you are changing the diaper, and the last thing you want to do is stop everything while you try to change the changing pad cover and the baby.

Diaper pail: NO DIAPER GENIE! It isn’t one-handed user friendly.  Get one that can open with your foot and just toss the diaper in and it closes by gravity. There is one called Dekor Plus Hands Free it is an easy flap no need to use your hands.

Hand cleaning: keep a pump bottle of hand sanitizer at all diaper changing stations and by the bottle prep area.  It is an easy way to clean your hand and not have to put baby down somewhere while you go lather up in the sink.

Swaddle: Kiddapotamus makes a pre-done swaddle that you velcro in place, very one-handed user friendly, better than the Halo or sleep sacks.

Diapers: don’t be afraid to clasp the baby’s leg with your prosthetic hand, it will rest comfortably between the thumb and index finger for the first few months.

Bedding: get a few mattress protectors as your diapering will be loose at first as you adjust to using the prosthetic thus the diapers will leak =) bit of a learning curve takes a week or two.

Clothing: separates are easier than onsies.  It won’t matter how cute the outfit is if it’s difficult to get on/off the baby: it’s just extra stress.   When using onsies, don’t snap the middle snap.  It allows for easier removal of the onsie when you change diapers.  Don’t even bother with long sleeve onsies, because it’s very difficult to thread baby’s arms through the narrow holes.

Socks: as the baby gets older keep the socks turned inside out.  Stick your hand in the sock grab the foot/toes, open your hand like a star fish as you roll the sock onto the foot.

Highchair: look for a highchair that has a one-mechanism pull-release located at the front of the tray, not the one button thingy on each side.

Boogers: Graco makes an electric nose sucker (don’t have to bother with the bulb and getting it to pull out the snot/boogers).  It comes with two attachments, one that goes up in the nose one that sucks from nostril.  Don’t use the attachment that goes up in the nose till the baby is 3 months old.

Crib: don’t get one with a drop-side, fixed sides are safer and less frustrating for you.

Bathing: look for an infant bath tub that isn’t reclined and purchase a “bath sling.”  The sling is an incline you put the infant on to keep baby in place.  You use it on the sink counter initially and when baby is moving around more you put the sling in the baby tub.  You have more control over the slippery baby with one hand when you use the bath sling.

33 thoughts on “One-Handed Baby Care Tips”

  1. Thank you for posting this. I have Kienbock’s Disease in my right wrist, and am very doubtful it will ever be back to normal..and at the moment I cannot use it pretty much at all. My husband and I want to have kids, but I was terrified about being able to care for them on my own–while I knew people do it I didn’t know how. 🙂 The tips seems really helpful, I helped with my niece when she was a baby…and you nailed a lot of the issues I had then.

    1. I’m in a cast up to my elbow on my right dominant hand. My grandson is almost 10 months old and flaps like a fish on land during diaper changes. Seeing other videos with tiny babies or dolls doesn’t help me. Neither can I make a pulley system. Help!

  2. Thanks so much for these tips. I am a hone handed grandmother- to- be and want to help out where I can, but am terrified that having only one hand will be make it impossible

    1. I’m in the same position as you. My daughter is due October 2nd and I’m so worried about how I’m going to be able to babysit. I have no feeling or movement in my right arm below the shoulder. This article is great help, but not having a prosthetic or movement below the shoulder, will be even harder. Have you found any other sites? Do you have any ideas about what you are going to do? I would love to here from you.

      1. I have zero use of my right arm and I have three kids and one due Sept. 6th. In my experience you and your baby will figure out what works for the both of you. It might not always look correct but it’ll work. I don’t have any tips, just do what feels right. Wishing all the best.

        1. Hi! What have you found works best to pick up baby off the floor/crib/car seat/high chair? Would love to hear your thoughts! First time mom with minimal use of right arm.

  3. Thanks for the tips, I have severe back pain and can’t use my right arm, and if I do it causes tremendous pain. My wife has taken care of the baby most of the time and is like to help take the burden off of her. Hopefully I will heal quickly, but it hurts when I breathe and the baby makes it worse. So I have to try to do everything one handed. I’ve gotten good at hiding it from my wife and feeding him with my mouth. I’m certainly going to buy some of the things mentioned. They will certainly help. Thank you for the tips. God bless

    1. You should check out the Beebo . I just bought one for my babysitter (aka my dad who has a prosthetic arm). The Beebo is a bottle holder.

  4. Thank you SO much for this list and tips. I have one full arm and am expecting a baby. It’s been hard to locate information online, especially on one-arm-friendly products to put on my registry.

  5. A sling of some kind might work for you. They’re pretty easy to put on and get baby into. Do you have reasonable use of your affected arm for more gross motor type activities, like holding baby steady in the sling with one arm while using your good hand?

  6. Thanks so much, so glad I stumbled upon this info. I was born without my right arm & just gave birth on the 31st of last month. It seems everyone had counted me out, this article has given me all the inspiration. Thank you again

  7. I have hemiparesis, and can only use one hand/arm. Luckily, it’s my dominant side. Hoping these will help me.

  8. This was all so inspiring and encouraging!
    I lost my arm from a rare form of cancer and we are expecting a baby girl in February. A bit unsure of my abilities but these ideas will certainly help ease my mind until I’m able to try them out.
    Good luck to all of you!

  9. Thank you!! I’m about to have surgery on my broken wrist days before my due date. These tips will be so much help!

  10. Thank you for all these helpful tricks. I’m 26 and had a stroke so I can’t use my left arm/hand anymore. Which made me think I couldn’t or shouldn’t have kids. I have been looking for advice on this matter and glad I found your post. Gave me hope. Please keep providing tips. Thanks.

    1. Hi! I am an expecting mother, and I also had a stroke. I have limited use of my right arm and hand and would appreciate any advice you could give.

  11. My daughters arm was amputated just above the elbow in a car accident. Two years later, here we are and she is expecting her first born. She is scared. Any tips, ideas I could pass along to her?

    1. Hi Barb!
      Kristin is going to write a Blog Post about this subject later this week, please stay tuned.
      I’ll make sure we email you a copy as well

  12. Thank you so much. I have a brain tumor (been fighting for 15 years) and just recently, either tumor regrowth or side effects from radiation a year ago have caused 90% loss of dexterity in my left hand. Putting on my daughter’s socks is one of the most frustrating things and your starfish trick s genius. I can’t wait to try it.

    I have to ask for more information, though. Your car seat advice ia about the actual seat installation. But what about fastening in the child? I find it more and more difficult to properly fasten my daughter properly because of the required tension and dexterity required to get the two lower buckles fastened.

    Keep up the great work – you’re a saint.

  13. Hi. Do you have any recommendations for a baby bath suitable for a one handed parent to use. I have searched in vain on the Internet
    Kind Regards

  14. Hi there, are you able to put links to the actual product you mention? I would love the bath sling in particular! Many many thanks! Jo

  15. I thought it was interesting when you said that you should get a diaper bag that has velcro instead of zippers. My wife and I are expecting our first child soon. We will be sure to learn as much as we can when it comes to raising a child.

  16. Amazing tips! Few days ago I have given birth to my baby and so I would like to follow your tips as you have shared all the essential tips for caring the baby. I would like to share it with my bestie too as she is expecting her first child. Keep sharing!

  17. Thanks so much for these tips. I enjoyed all short tips!! I will share it with my other colleagues and never forget to visit this website every week! Thanks agaiN!!!

  18. Thank you for these tips. This post will help every one-handed parent. It’s really hard to find out this type of information online. I’ll suggest this article to all of my friends whose are one-handed. Once again thanks for this awesome article.

  19. Thank you so much for many good tips. My friends daughter is having a baby and she has very limited functionality in one arm. I want to make sure to give a gift that is helpful in the “oh so ruff for everyone” newborn period.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Tanya!
      We appreciate your input and wish your friend’s daughter all the best with her new baby!

      Katie and Kristin

  20. Thank you for this. My husband is an arm amputee and there are hardly any resources for amputees. We are expecting our first child in October. Appreciate the helpful tips.

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