When Your Baby or Toddler Is Blind or Low Vision

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.

There is no right or wrong way to cope with the news that your child is blind or visually impaired. Whatever you are feeling—anger, sorrow, guilt, confusion, anxiety, or fear—you need to know that your emotions are natural. There are a number of strategies that can help you balance your life and your concern for your visually impaired child.

Strategies

  • Acknowledge your feelings: Recognize that each parent responds differently to having a child with blindness or low vision. Try not to compare yourself or your spouse to other parents or criticize yourself. You may sometimes feel depressed, angry, or have other distressing emotions.
  • Take care of yourself: You’re entitled to take care of your own life without feeling guilty. In fact, you need to, good health is essential to keep up your spirits and physical strength and, in that way, help your family and your child.
  • Stay Connected: Emotional support from people who care about you is crucial. When you feel less than perfect, you may have a tendency to withdraw from friends and sometimes from family, too. Although you may feel shaken and exhausted at times, try to stay in touch with your friends, family, and others who can boost your spirits and help you cope.
  • Give yourself time to adjust: Adjusting to the news of your child’s blindness or low vision is a continuing process. In many ways, every family is in constant transition, and it may be helpful to keep that in mind. Give yourself and your family time to absorb this situation and begin to see your circumstances in terms of what steps you can take to ensure your child’s successful future.

Tips for New Parents

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 many opportunities to get to know other children and adults by 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. Join out ParentConnect family support group.