Caring for a Child with Down Syndrome

July 18, 2019
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
feature image

Caring for a child with Down syndrome isn’t easy. It requires patience, empathy, and so much more. Many parents and caregivers of children with the chromosomal condition are left wondering where do I start?

7 Tips for Caring for a Child with Down Syndrome

From research to online support groups to self-care, there are lots of tips that can help make caring for a child with Down syndrome easier. Here’s what we recommend.

1. Never Stop Learning

One of the best things you can do is to research the chromosomal condition as much as you can. Researching Down syndrome and staying informed can help you care for your child and provide a better quality of life for them (and you) overall.

2. Have a Plan

If you are expecting a child that may be born with Down syndrome, it’s important to work with your doctor to create an appropriate birth plan. Once your baby is born, tests will be performed to check heart function, hearing, vision, and overall health. For most parents, this means their child will need to stay in the hospital slightly longer than usual, so be prepared.

3. Help Their Growth and Development

Once your newborn is home, it’s important to help their growth and development as much as possible. The best way to do this is by scheduling regular checkups with your child’s doctor. Children with Down syndrome are typically slow to crawl, slow to walk, and slow to talk, but you can aid their growth and development through the following:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Special education

4. Join a Support Group

Beyond research, there are lots of support groups – both online and in-person – that can help you on your journey caring for a child with Down syndrome. For some, this might mean joining a local support group at church. While for others, it may mean connecting with other parents whose children have Down syndrome too. Whatever you choose, joining a support group can help you provide care for your child while also helping you cope with your day-to-day challenges.

5. Let Your Child Be in Control (Sometimes)

Sometimes children with Down syndrome struggle with feeling as though they don’t have control over their lives due to limitations their friends may not have. That’s why it’s important for children with Down syndrome to feel that they have some control every now and then, within reason.

We recommend trying these tips to help your child feel a sense of control:

  • Allow your child to make their own choices, if it makes sense. From letting them choose what clothes they want to wear to what snacks they want to eat, this can help them feel more in control without putting them in danger.
  • Let them take risks every now and then. It can be hard for parents caring for a child with Down syndrome to let them take risks, but it’s necessary to let them do so to see what they can handle.
  • Support your child with problem solving. Is your child having an issue with a friend at school? Rather than trying to fix their problems for them, help them fix it themselves.

6. Have a Set Routine

Kids with Down syndrome often thrive when they have a set routine. Having a set routine when it comes to run-of-the-mill tasks can help give them a better quality of life.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Have a daily routine that you stick to (ie: in the morning, get up, get dressed, brush teeth, eat breakfast, etc.).
  • Use visuals to make a daily routine that your child can easily see.
  • Assign your child chores to do around the house and respond positively when they complete something.
  • Make time to read and do fun projects together.
  • Support your child as they do tasks on their own.

7. Make Time for Self-Care

Caring for a child with Down syndrome is challenging. Besides juggling work and all of the responsibilities that come with your day-to-day schedule, caring for a special needs child can be even more demanding. What’s worse is that it can be harder to find the time to meet your own needs when you’re so busy caring for others. Making time for self-care is one of the most important things you can do as someone caring for a child with Down syndrome.

Not sure where to start? While self-care is easier said than done, these tips can help you get started.

  • Build a solid support system
  • Be honest about your challenges
  • Make time for family and friends
  • Make a list of things you need
  • Let others help when they offer
  • Take care of yourself
  • Make time to relax
  • Treat yourself with kindness

Contact Care Options for Kids For Pediatric Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you are considering pediatric home health care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.