10 'Must Have' Items for Your Baby With Down Syndrome


Editor's Note

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A few weeks ago, an expectant mom of a baby with Down syndrome asked me what my “must have” items were as she prepares for the birth of her baby. My first response was, “Babies with Down syndrome need the same things every other baby needs. They are babies, first of all.”

My statement is 100 percent true — our babies are just like any other babies, and they need the same items you would use for any other baby. However, as soon as I said that, I realized I did have certain items I wanted to recommend to her because we either used them longer, or they helped my baby with Down syndrome a little more than they helped her siblings.

For example, I purchased a Bumbo chair with my first daughter. It was not something we needed, but it was nice to have, as it offered a little more support and stability for sitting. But when I had a baby with Down syndrome, that Bumbo chair became one of my favorite “must have” items. Due to low muscle tone, it took my baby with Down syndrome longer to sit independently. The Bumbo chair became “adaptive equipment,” helping her to sit up and engage with her surrounding from the same vantage point as other babies who were able to sit independently. It also helped her strengthen her core muscles while being fully supported.

But I am just one parent, so we reached out to our Down syndrome community and asked what their “must have” items were for their babies.

These were their responses:

1. Nasal Aspirators

Nose Frida nasal aspirator

“I’d have to say ‘Nose Frida,’ since our little ones [tend to] have such small nose passageways, this has been a big help to get those unwanted boogies out.” — Amber K.

Our only option when my daughter was born was the bulb syringe many parents get from the hospital, but it did not feel like it did enough. Eventually, we had a medical grade nasal aspirator and we used it up until the time my daughter was 2 years old and could blow her nose. It was quite helpful.

Our recommendations: Bulb syringeNose Frida, or OccoBaby powered nasal aspirator.

2. Baby Carrier

Mom carrying baby using baby K'tan

“A baby carrier. Children with lower muscle tone may take longer to walk, so rather than lugging a stroller everywhere, I just wore my daughter in a K’tan! It was actually developed by parents with a child with Down syndrome! It gave her hips the extra support she needed, too.” — Ashley O.

Our recommendations: Baby K’tan, Ergobaby and KeaBabies baby wrap.

3. Sturdy Push Toys

Radio Flyer push wagon

“One thing that helped my son was a very strong sturdy walking aid toy.” — Matt R.

“We had a wooden wagon we got Timmy then around 2 to push to the top of our road to strengthen his legs for walking and it worked.” — Jacqueline GS.

Our recommendations: Radio Flyer Walker Wagon and VTech Sit-to-Stand Walker.

4. Medela Feeder

Medela feeder options small and regular

“My daughter had trouble drinking from a bottle. The Medela special feeder helped some. Now, we are using a nosey cup to drink from and just purchased a doidy cup to try.” — Jana L.

As a side note, several parents responded their “must have” was knowing our babies can nurse. If you are expecting or have a new baby with Down syndrome, it is possible you have heard professionals say it is harder for our babies to do so because of low muscle tone. Don’t let that deter you from trying, it might take more work for some of our babies to learn, but with practice and consistency, our babies can nurse. If you use a bottle, that is OK, too! I am a parent who pumped and used a bottle, and that worked for us.

5. Food Strainers

food strainers

“Mesh or silicone feeding items that you can put fruit or veggies in that strain food so you don’t have to worry about choking, since some of our little ones get teeth a little later.” — Amber K.

Our recommendation: Fresh Food Feeder

6. Activity Centers or Activity Jumpers

Baby Einstein Jumperoo

“A walker-type seat that allows them to put weight on their legs, basically allowing them to use muscles used in standing.” — Cai P.

Our recommendations: Fisher-Price Jumperoo, Baby Einstein Jumper and Evenflo Excersaucer.

7. Sign Language Books or Flashcards

Signing Time! reference cards

“A good baby sign language book with pictures. We made our own, laminated, with signs specific to him (the sign for brother, the word brother, and a picture of his brother)” — David H.

“Teach your baby sign language. My daughter was able to communicate her needs very early on through signing, and still uses signs now at 3 years old. It helped cut back on frustration tremendously.” — Pamela A.

Our recommendations: Baby Signing Time Flashcards (and books and videos) and Baby Sign Language Basics.

8. Music

“Music has always been a calming agent for our son. His SweetPea 3 music player is a must have for bedtime and travel.” — Adam M.

Musical toys are great, too!

9. Another Parent

“The only must-have item was another parent that was just a few years ahead of me in the journey to help guide me.” — Jen B.

10. Bumbo Chair

Bumbo chair

Helps babies who take a little longer to sit independently and can help strengthen core muscles.

Do you have a baby with Down syndrome? What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments.

Getty image by Eleonora_os


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