How Visually Impaired Moms Watch Out for Their Kiddies

Mother and New Baby
Mother and New Baby. Harry Williamson/Spring Studio

I’m guessing you would agree that motherhood is challenging enough even if you are fully sighted. Children require adults to look out for them 24/7 but how is this possible when you can’t see where they are at all times or what they are doing in their curiosity to explore the world around them?

Challenges of Being a Visually-Impaired Mom

Being a visually-impaired Mom sure makes motherhood an interesting challenge and at times, can be a little scary.

For instance, how do you know if your child is about to fall off the play equipment, sitting too close to a fire or heater, or if she has secretly fed her veggie-burger to your pet dog?

The truth is, you adjust to motherhood as a visually-impaired mom with a certain amount of determined ingenuity and acquire other sensory skills to guide you. Some of these include:

  • Listening with extreme acuteness to their every move when very young
  • Relying on tactile ways to communicate
  • Creating play-time together using sounds, songs & telling stories
  • Developing a heightened sense of mother’s intuition
  • Smelling danger by staying alert
  • Teaching your children to be ‘your eyes’ by constantly engaging their curiosity
  • Enrolling sighted friends to keep you informed (as in giving you a running commentary, if needed, in a playground or at your child’s school concert, etc.)

Being a visually-impaired mom, it’s highly likely you will do a few things at first that can be embarrassing when you completely fail a visual task: like the time I accidentally placed a spoonful of potato salad coated in soft mayonnaise into my daughter’s ear instead of her mouth – oops!

No one is perfect and plenty of sighted parents can feel inadequate too.

The wonderful thing about your kiddies is that they love you just the way you are. Sighted or not, you are the best Mom ever!

Like everything we learn to do in life, our skills develop as our children challenge us to the next level of their own growth.

Here are a few of the ways I have adapted to being a visually-impaired Mom for my 4 sighted children who I can proudly say have all survived our shared experience of blind parenting.

Caring for Your Baby Through Infancy

  • Newborns need all the loving touch you can give them so you are at a beautiful advantage because your hands are already used to being your eyes. As you gain confidence holding such a little bundle, you get to know your baby’s needs intimately by staying close through the sense of touch.
  • Check your baby often as they sleep by listening to their little gurgles or hold them close as you feed and cuddle them in a rocking-chair. The key is to stay close so you gain awareness of your baby’s needs through every sound and nuance you hear while learning their subtle baby language.
  • Let your sighted spouse, partner or a close friend take on any visual task you are feeling anxious about while you gain confidence in the early days of caring for your infant.

Training Your Toddler

The next set of challenges comes when your infant quickly develops into a toddler and is physically mobile. No longer are they content to be by your side all day long – they are off and away to explore new things in interesting places.

At this young age, your toddler begins to learn that you watch over them by using a combination of tactile methods of parenting as well as keeping up a constant chatter to know what they are doing. Strategies might include:

  • Little bells sewn onto their socks is a brilliant way to keep an ear out for their every activity through the house.
  • Regular checking of what your toddler is holding or has put into their mouth will become so frequent that they get used to mommy hovering over them asking for visual clues to their activity.
  • Dressing your active toddler in bright contrasting clothing can help you to locate their bouncing little body as they dart around a playground. Bright caps and colorful shoes can help to locate your child if you still have some residual vision.
  • Teach them to come to YOU at regular intervals rather than you having to search for them, so you are reassured and kept up to date with what they are going to do next.

There are so many ways you can be creative in your problem-solving for doing visual tasks. For instance, instead of reading books, which may be too difficult, make your own large tactile scrapbooks by pasting in birthday cards, cut-out pictures from magazines and collected colorful stickers, or anything your inquisitive toddler wants to see over and over again in their own individualized book.

Over time, you will find a satisfying solution to the many visual tasks you will be confronted with in caring for your children.

Whether you are visually-impaired or totally blind, it is good to remember that your kiddies are adaptable little creatures who are constantly seeking one precious security – your attention as their special Mom, with a whole lot of love, just for them.

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